The staff at a Compassion center in Uganda refused to stand by and watch the girls of their community be abducted and sexually abused by boda boda drivers. So they stepped into action.
“When I was 15, my mother fell sick and was in the hospital,” says Babra. “I was walking to the hospital to take her some food when a boda boda (motorcycle taxi) driver stopped and asked where I was going. When I told him, he offered me a free lift. … But then he said to me, 'Now that you have used my fuel, what will you give me in return?'”
Babra tells her story with a shaky bravery. It’s a story that plays out every day in her community — a young woman is taken advantage of by a taxi driver pretending to help.
But Babra’s story ends differently. At her Compassion center, staff had begun teaching the children about self-protection. Babra had been taught to remain calm and be wise.
That’s why, instead of screaming and panicking, Babra asked her abductor to give her some food. When he stopped, she was able to escape and run home.
But not all children experience the same outcome as Babra.
Jolly, the director at Babra’s Compassion center, hears stories like Babra’s every day.
The center's first step in combating the sexual abuse that plagues so many of the girls at the center was to arrange child protection training workshops for the children’s caregivers and the children. Then, they empowered caregivers with income-generating skills to better provide for their children and protect them from being lured by promises of food and other basic needs.
Beyond the caregivers and children, child protection training was conducted for local government leaders as well. And the center partnered with them in the effort to curb abuse by boda boda drivers.
Compassion Uganda is committed to proactive efforts to protect children throughout the country. Winnie, Compassion Uganda’s child protection specialist, says that sexual abuse is the most frequent form of abuse suffered by registered children.
Winnie adds that child protection trainings are carried out countrywide among local Compassion center staff, registered children, their guardians and the general community. In addition to organizing training events, Winnie works with government leaders and policymakers to prioritize child protection. All because she knows that rescues like Babra's must be what we strive for.
Winnie and Jolly have taken on a massive responsibility. But if they can save even one girl from sexual abuse and rape, every meeting, workshop and rescue is worth it.