Victoria University’s Student Sets Out To Change Fortunes Of Girls In West Nile
Born 24 years ago in Zombo district, West-Nile sub –region, in Northern Uganda, Pimer Peace Monica, a student at Victoria University Kampala, has founded and runs a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) called Nile Girls Forum as the founding Chief Executive Officer (C.E.O). She is also the ambassador of CHEZA in Northern Uganda.
In an interview, Pimer Peace, studying Procurement and Logistics management, says she founded Nile Girls Forum with her colleagues, Ms. Unyuda Mariah Elsie, Mr. Asiku Francis, Ms. Letaru Freeda and Ms. Kadimala Grace.
They met two years ago through Facebook. They had never met in real life but because of a common goal of transforming ‘our community in West Nile’, the strangers met and decided to form and register the organization.
The Victoria University student reveals that her mother was her greatest inspiration because she believed so much in her and supported her education. “This motivated me to aim higher and encourage my community to value education,” Pimer Peace said in the email interview.
When Pimer Peace looked at the communities in Zombo district where she hails from, she couldn’t help but notice the various challenges girls her age and those much younger were facing.
These challenges included high school dropout rates, teenage pregnancies and child marriage. “I therefore took it upon myself to start an NGO that would transform and address everyday challenges of the girl child in entire West Nile sub-region.
“We intend to have more girls acquiring formal education, equipping girls with hands on skills for example tailoring, creating more health awareness, sensitizing the community about child marriage,” an ambitious Pimer Peace explains.
The areas of focus for Nile Girls Forum are girl child education, child marriage, teenage pregnancies, women health, gender based violence and youth empowerment. Because of her involvement in the lives of girls in her region, Pimer Peace has been recognized for it.
Recently Peace and her Nile Girls Forum participated in the Women for Women Awards event hosted by the French Embassy. At the event, she received plaudits from the United States Ambassador to Uganda Deborah Ruth Malac and Stephanie Rivoal and other development partners.
Asked if her activism work won’t affect her education at Victoria University, Pimer Peace said that she keeps an ‘updated schedule of my school work and office work’ that way she balance the tasks at hand without injuring the other.
She said she wants to give the girls a voice and teach them how to use it to make positive change in the world. To achieve this, she is prioritizing education as a key tool to empower girls in the region.
“Girl child education is most important to me because education addresses so many things. Girls have a great potential to change the world because, as they say, when you educate a girl, you empower a nation,” she noted.
She points out that poor girl child education, gender based violence, menstrual hygiene, fistula, cervical cancer, fibroids, fistula, cervical cancer, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis and breast cancer are challenges and health issues that girls in West Nile continue to face.
To disseminate the right messages to the targeted girls, Nile Girls Forum holds seminars at schools and local communities and radio talk shows but this is becoming expensive since they don’t have enough funds to run these programs.
The rampant cases of child marriages is an issue that Nile Girls Forum is trying to address in the sub region. Pimer Peace says that according to statistics of child marriage in Uganda, Northern Uganda has the highest prevalence rate of 59 % with West Nile sub-region at 50%. We should also keep in mind that child marriage cuts across for both girls and boys.
She says that child marriage affects all aspects of a child life and violates their rights, disrupts their education, exposes them to violence and abuse, exposes them to health risks and more often infants born to adolescent mothers have high risk of being born premature.
In doing their work, Nile Girls Forum has been able to attract and tie up partnerships with other stakeholders working in the region something which has boosted their capacity and expanded their reach.
They have been able to work with organizations like CHEZA, Forum for Christian Empowerment, Keep Me In School, Arua Public Secondary School, Health Science Student Association Victoria University and Rotaract Club of Victoria University.
“We have also been honored to have a number of outreaches in the community for example; Sanyu Babies Home in Kampala, Imvepi Refugee Settlement In Terego and keep Arua clean campaign in Arua town.
“We were also honored to be part of the Women4Women awards that took place at the French Ambassador’s residence hosted by H.E the French ambassador to Uganda Stephanie Rivoal, an event that was organized by Ambassadors, heads of mission, directors and leaders.
“We look forward to strengthening our partners with these organizations and more to come.
Because some of the challenges the girls face today is a making of men, like child marriage, Nile Girls Forum is involving men to help the girls and Pimer Peace it is paying off.
“There has been positive response from the men, especially the local community leaders. For example Mr. Marwothnga Ceasor, an LC1 official in Paidha has shown support towards Nile Girls Forum and is willing to work with us in order to successfully implement our program.”