STORIES FROM THE FIELD
War Child Canada shares the story of Janet, who lost her father to war in South Sudan. With support from a Education Cannot Wait First Emergency Response in Uganda, Janet is finding new hope for the future.
Special Contribution from War Child Canada
When war reaches children like Janet, they are forced to ‘grow up’ quickly. For Janet, that moment came in 2015 when her father was killed during the war in South Sudan. She was 12 at the time.
The following year, she fled to Uganda with her mother – a harrowing and dangerous journey for anyone to take, especially for a young teenager.
When she finally arrived in Uganda, she was relieved to feel safer but she faced new problems. Her mother was ill, they had no income and she was worried about how she and her mother would survive. She was in a different country and she didn’t know anyone apart from those who had fled with her.
Like many girls her age faced with similar pressures, Janet decided that the quickest and most effective way to pull herself and her mother out of extreme poverty was to get married.
“I decided to get married at the end of 2016,” she told us. “I now have a baby boy who is seven months old. However, when the man [her husband] started mistreating me, I escaped and fled home.”
She was free from the abuse but she now found herself in an even more precarious situation: back where she started, but with a baby to look after as well.
One day, Janet’s mother attended a community meeting organized by War Child Canada through the Education Cannot Wait First Emergency Response. The meeting was to bring awareness to the community about War Child’s Accelerated Education Programme. After the meeting, Janet’s mother went to her daughter and encouraged her to resume her education.
Janet didn’t need much convincing—the programme was free so she could see no reason not to grasp this golden opportunity.
Since Janet enrolled in the programme, school has become her second home.
“When I was accepted by the programme, I felt so good and was the happiest girl!”
Even her young son is not a barrier to her education. The programme recognizes that young mothers are just as deserving of an education as anyone else. When she shows up to school with her son on her back, she is greeted with a warm welcome rather than a raised brow.
“Mothers like me are treated with respect, by both learners and teachers.”
For Janet, War Child’s Accelerated Education Programme does more than provide her with education and an opportunity to pursue skilled work. While at school, she can connect with other girls her age who can really identify with everything Janet’s been through.
She tells us that she likes going to school because “I have my friends my age who have similar problems to me. This has given me an opportunity to share experiences with them and I feel very comfortable.”
Janet encourages War Child to continue to raise awareness among the community about the importance of education, especially for girls.
“Girls are often seen as a source of wealth,” she says. “They are often married when they are still school children.”
When asked what she will do with her education, Janet responded: “I want to become a nurse after finishing school. I want to serve and save the lives of my people.”
Janet is a shining example of what kind of impact can be made when we invest in girls who have experienced the brutality of war. She is a community leader in the making and we are humbled by her hard work and determination to make a better life for herself, her family, and her community.
- Education Cannot Wait provided a US$3.3 million First Emergency Response allocation in 2017 to several partners in Uganda in order to respond to urgent education needs connected with the refugee crisis.
- To reach all the refugee children living in the country, Education Cannot Wait facilitated the development of a 3.5-year Education Response Plan for Refugees and Host Communities in Uganda, contributing US$11 million in seed funding to support the launch of the plan. The comprehensive plan looks to raise a total of US$389 million in total contributions to reach more than 560,000 refugee and host community children and youth. Girls and children with disabilities will be especially targeted in the response.
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Education Cannot Wait’s ‘Stories from the Field’ series features the voices of our implementing partners, children, youth and the communities we support. These stories have only been lightly edited to reflect the authentic voice of these frontlines partners on the ground. The views expressed in the Stories from the Field series do not necessarily reflect those of Education Cannot Wait, our Secretariat, donors or UN Member States.