A Ugandan woman who had to leave school when she was married off aged 17 now volunteers tirelessly to ensure that girls and women have the best opportunities possible.
As a child, Halima lacked support, guidance and information from her parents and the wider community. She was forced to leave school after conceiving her first child, when she was subsequently married off by her family.
However, Halima had achieved a level of literacy that was higher than average in her community, and significantly higher than most of the local women. Then in 2016, she had the opportunity to join a Hope for Justice Self-Help Group. These groups offer women the opportunity to save money, build self-esteem, and learn business skills alongside a supportive community of other women.
After joining the group, Halima’s confidence grew, and she was given a key role of book-keeper. The following year, she was chosen as the group’s representative.
Since then, Halima has gone from strength to strength. She dedicates her time to voluntary work to empower girls and women, reduce their trafficking risk, and ultimately bring about positive change.
She is one of only a few women to be chairperson of her local child protection committee, and also manages the network which refers exploited children into the support they need.
Halima is a member of the local child and anti-trafficking committee, which is responsible for twelve children’s groups in the community. Halima mentors at least three children each week, helping them to become more resilient, confident and well-informed as they grow up.
In her paid role as a Community Based Trainer, Halima supports ten Self-Help Groups, mentoring the group members with book-keeping and business skills.
36-year-old Halima, now a mother-of-five, said: “As a victim of teenage pregnancy myself, I am using my example to avail information to the would-be victims.
“I act as an advocate and a voice for children, who confide in me about negative cultural practices that are potentially harmful to children, and girls specifically, who naturally bear the brunt of bad parental decisions.”
Peter Wabwire, Mbale Community Project Officer at Hope for Justice, said: “Halima is such a big asset to her community! Because of her commitment, Self-Help Group members always nominate her to participate in support programs in her community.
“Working with community-based volunteers like Halima has reinforced the efforts of Hope for Justice staff to increase support at the grassroots level. Her efforts also encourage others to get involved in reducing the risk of trafficking, and raising awareness of it, in their own communities.”
Halima working with a local children’s group