As effects of the covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown continue to bite, social scientists and counselors have asked Ugandans to start planning for the expected increase in the number of abandoned babies.
In a meeting held to address the challenges faced by young mothers and devise a solution to the high number of abandoned babies in Uganda, various key players have shared ideas on how the country can overcome this problem.
Barbra Nankya Mutagubya, the Director for Sanyu Babies home pointed out that during the lockdown period, many young girls were harassed by their relatives and are currently confused with pregnancies.
“In December this year, it’s going to mark nine months since lockdown was announced and within this period, these young girls, most of whom who were chased away from homes, will start giving birth. Most families are not willing to take on the young mothers with their toddlers whom they refer to as curses,” Nankya said.
Nankya says that although they are supposed to have 50 children as maximum, currently they have 57 babies without space for any more who might need help.
“During the lockdown when children were sent back home, we received the highest number of abandoned babies in various places surrounding Kampala,” she added.
She further noted that unfortunately, some of these babies were recovered from bushes by dogs and they didn’t live to celebrate their first birthdays because the dogs use their teeth to carry them.
Reverend Richard Rukundo, the Head of Youth and Children Programs at Namirembe Provincial Secretariat, asked church leaders not to chase away pregnant teens but should instead be an example by counseling and rendering them all the necessary support to have safe deliveries.
“Every child is a blessing from God. Even if when you are a Reverend and your child gets pregnant, don’t segregate them but take good care of them and ensure that they don’t repeat the same,” Rukundo opined.
He further asked churches to always provide spiritual counseling and Psycho-social support to the Christians to avoid sexual and domestic violence cases in homes.
Faith Kembabazi from Children at Risk Network (CRANE) called upon members of the general public to help teenagers who are victims of Sexual violence to get timely justice.
“Over 500 cases involving teenagers have been dealt with during the lockdown period. 80% of the people attacking these children are people related to them,” Kembabazi disclosed.
This engagement attracted stakeholders from numerous Non Governmental Organizations dealing with adolescent affairs, teenagers and abandoned babies.