Nyuma Kumi Initiative; Protecting the rights of children in Kasese district

Participation is one of the basic principles of human rights in Uganda. “Everyone should be given an opportunity to participate in the development issues of their area.” Many people and especially women and children are sometimes limited from enjoying this right, not because they cannot get involved but because they are not given enough space to get involved. At many times, we get to community meetings which have “specific speakers” who are recognized by the community members as orators, leaving other people’s views especially women and children not attended to.

This is why the Nyumba Kumi literally meaning “ten neighboring households” was introduced as a way to encourage participation in smaller familiar groups and ensuring that the Human rights message reaches the final person. Ten houses are clustered into groups, in the same neighborhood to make an organized group. They then elect the chairperson of their cluster, secretary and mobilizer who organizes the venue, date and is responsible for reminding the rest on the dates agreed. The Nyumba Kumi ensures that all members in the households are represented. These include the father, mother and children. This is because all these are responsible for promoting children’s rights, right away from home to the school. More so, they all have a responsibility to fulfill in the fight for the children’s rights.

This Nyumba Kumi initiative was implemented to mobilize and sensitize the communities in a more organized way so that the message of children’s rights reach even the lowest community member at family level. This made monitoring of children’s rights violations and abuses a lot easier and members also were able to handle some cases like those of domestic violence, child neglect and advise each other on making referrals to other service providers.

Crowds tend to be big to allow equal participation of these women and children. Most of them are shy to speak in the community meetings and or are not given an opportunity to speak out. That is why some women tend to murmur to their male counterparts to speak for them what is on their minds, yet everyone has a right to stand for their own rights and decisions.

They discuss also other issues like sanitation and hygiene, nutrition.

RESULTS SO FAR

Nyumba Kumi has led to the birth of a savings group in Kinyamaseke trading centre to ensure economic empowerment to support children’s needs. They believe in economic strengthening as well as social in order to meet children’s needs as well as observing their rights. This has made it easier for them to afford scholastic materials, food, clothing and other nessities for their children.

From their mobilization of parents, 50 children have been taken back to school by the Nyumba Kumi efforts. These are 15 children in Kayanza where 2 girls were brought back after they had been married off, 6 in Ihandiro, 9 in Isango, 12 in Kinyamaseke and 8 in Mpondwe primary schools

-27 cases have been identified by the Nyumba Kumi, ranging from defilement at Kayanzi primary school where 2 girls were defiled and impregnated, 5 child labour cases in Kinyamaseke town council, and others include domestic violence, child neglect cases and denial of education. Of these 14 cases were successfully handled in their own sittings by counselling and mediation and 6 cases reported to Police.

This shows that responsiveness and vigilance of the people has increased as they act as watchdogs upon each other and therefore promoted the rights of children at lower level.

A girl rescued from early marriage

Mr. Sanyu, a resident of Kayanja fishing village and a member of the Nyumba Kumi had from his neighbourhood that some girls from Kayanja primary school had changed school to Katholhu primary school. He became curious and demanded to visit them because he had heard rumours that these girls had actually been married off. He raised this issue in the Nyumba Kumi and the fellow members agreed to search for these girls. Later, he found out that they had been married in Katholhu trading centre. He reported the case to Nyumba Kumi and togather all the parents worked together with the school to report the issue and these girls were brought back to school. These girls are now in primary seven, yet to sit for their exams. They have been counselled and supported by their teachers. Their parents were warned against doing such an act.