Helping women at risk of domestic violence in Uganda | ActionAid UK

Saida Bogere

Uganda Child Sponsorship Coordinator

Since working with ActionAid Uganda I've met many women who have experienced domestic violence. The worst thing is that these women feel unable to escape. But it doesn't need to be this way. Thanks to child sponsorship, ActionAid is training women to start their own businesses so they can support themselves. I'd like to tell you about two of these women.

Beatrice, seen here with her onion seedlings, is one of 145 survivors of domestic violence in Uganda who are earning an independent income thanks to ActionAid child sponsors.
Beatrice, seen here with her onion seedlings, is one of 145 survivors of domestic violence in Uganda who are earning an independent income thanks to ActionAid child sponsors.

Bringing women together to overcome domestic violence

For 49-year-old Beatrice, ActionAid’s support has enabled her to leave her abusive marriage and build a brighter future for her eight children. I visited Beatrice at her home in Nebbi and she shared her story with me.

“My husband and I ran a shop together, which allowed us to pay for our children’s education,” explains Beatrice.

Then my husband took on a second woman and became abusive towards me. Eventually, I was forced to leave the family business.

"I sought help from ActionAid’s Women’s Protection Centre," Beatrice continues. "ActionAid supported me and eventually my husband agreed to leave. I was free from abuse but my husband left me with nothing and I couldn’t afford food for our children.”

Beatrice, domestic violence survivor, Uganda

ActionAid introduced Beatrice to nine other local survivors of violence against women and together they formed Munguriek Women’s Group.

"ActionAid supported us to set up a savings fund and trained us in business management," says Beatrice. "I borrowed 500,000 shillings (£150) from the fund and bought some rice to sell. With my profits, I grew cassava and onions, which I also sell.

Now I can feed my children and cover all their schools fees. This is my greatest triumph – thank you ActionAid.

Beatrice smiled as she shared her achievements with me. She then proudly showed me around her new five-room house, which she has built using her savings.

Beatrice in front of her new house, Uganda

Beatrice and her family live in the house and she rents out the remaining rooms to local teachers, in order to boost her income further.

Now I can feed my children and cover all their schools fees. This is my greatest triumph – thank you ActionAid.

Thanks to child sponsorship, ActionAid’s Women’s Protection Centre in Nebbi has supported 145 women to live a violence-free life and enabled them to produce an income that they have complete control of.

Most women in Uganda rely on agriculture for their source of livelihood, like Beatrice does, but for some women, like 36-year-old Betty who is living with HIV, this is not an option. So ActionAid provides additional support for women like Betty too.

Sponsoring a child enables women to take control of their lives

Betty lives with her husband, son, niece and nephew in Kumi, an area with one of the highest rates of HIV and AIDS in Uganda. Betty was a farmer but after being diagnosed as HIV positive, she could no longer cope with the labour-intensive work.

“I got a job weeding gardens but we struggled to afford food and my medication,” says Betty. “My health got worse until I weighed less than seven stone.”

Betty, Uganda

Women living with HIV and AIDS often don’t have the physical energy to work as agricultural labourers. Without their husbands’ incomes, these women are especially vulnerable and even less likely to leave an abusive marriage. For me, it is therefore essential that we provide women living with HIV and AIDS with alternative income-generating projects, such as livestock rearing and planting vegetables at home.

With child sponsorship funds, ActionAid was able to organise a meeting on business management for women living with HIV and AIDS in Kumi, which Betty attended. With our local partner organisation, NACWOLA (National Community of Women Living with HIV and AIDS), ActionAid then provided Betty with two goats, ten hens and a cockerel.

“My family and I drink the goats’ milk and eat the eggs and we are much healthier now,” says Betty with a big smile. 

Betty and her goats, Uganda

When the goats and chickens reproduce, Betty sells these to other women in her community. “ActionAid also provided me with some seeds, which I used to set up my own vegetable garden," she explains. "Any produce I have left over, I sell.

"After saving for a while, I bought fish and tomatoes from the market and I sell these too. With my profits so far, I’ve bought a cow and hired more land. Now I can afford food for my children and send them to school. I’m so happy that I can now support my family."

ActionAid and our partner NACWOLA distributed goats, chickens and seeds to 187 women living with HIV and AIDS in Kumi and trained them in setting up their own businesses. This support has provided the women with the opportunity to take control of their lives for the first time. It has also enabled those who are facing domestic violence to escape this abuse. It's wonderful to see women, like Beatrice and Betty, empowered in this way.

It's all thanks to child sponsorship

None of this would have been possible without the support of our child sponsors. As well as supporting an individual child, sponsorship funds support the whole community, to tackle the problems holding families back, and find solutions that help mums like Beatrice and Betty stand on their own feet and meet their children's needs.

If you already sponsor a child – thank you. We'd love your help spreading the word about the difference child sponsorship makes - why not share this blog?

If you aren't yet a child sponsor but have been inspired by our work in Uganda then please consider sponsoring a child with ActionAid, and helping us support more women like Beatrice and Betty.

Find out how you can sponsor a child with ActionAid

Photo credits: Richard Adima/ActionAid