The Hub, A Place To Escape
by Anna Sutton, Hello World Project Coordinator
It is not unusual for a refugee girl under 18 years old in Nakivale settlement to be a mother. Nor is it uncommon for her to have been raped whilst she was living in Congo, the ‘rape capital of the world’ or sexually abused on her journey towards Uganda. Children have seen their own mothers raped, or beaten, or simply taken away. This is normality.
20-year-old Bahati* came to Nakivale alone with her 6-year-old son. She recently participated in a Hub build and wanted to share her story. Read her words:
“In Congo, life was very difficult. One day, when I was 11, we were at our home and during the night we heard some men shouting and knocking at the door. They managed to break in and were asking for large sums of money. They killed our father and then they took our mother. I could see three bullets in my fathers’ body, they had shot him three times. After that we ran away with my little sisters and my big brother. We don’t know where our Mother is, still now. When I was 14 I got pregnant with my son. I was raped. His father abandoned him, he wouldn’t acknowledge the pregnancy…So I went to the police and they told me to go to the hospital for an appointment with the doctor, but I couldn’t afford it so we went back home. The day came when I had to give birth. It was really hard, I had to have a caesarean, I gave birth to my son through an operation. I don’t know how to explain it, I would never go back to those days.”
There are plenty of stories just like this one from the communities we work with in Nakivale, and as one friend living in the refugee settlement pointed out; “Anna, you know, everyone here is living with some kind of trauma.”
What does this mean in the context of Hello World?
From my experience the hub offers these girls some escape. A chance to enjoy a funny youtube clip, or listen to a distracting podcast, or research further into their hobby. It also gives them access to information, to enter into online forums with other young mothers around the world or to access sexual health advice. Most critically though, the Hello Hub gives them the opportunity to continue the education they have had to cut short once they were forced to flee their homes, and when they became mothers. As we continue to focus on educating as many children as possible through the Hello Hubs, we must not forget that, whilst these mothers have had to grow up all too fast, they are still children themselves.
These young women have lived through trauma that many of us simply can’t fathom. If you’d like to support our work by funding more Hello Hubs for girls like Bahati, please do consider making a donation below.
*names have been changed