What are we doing to shape our desired future?

Author: Augustine Bahemuka. PHOTO/COURTESY 

What you need to know:

How then does Mathius, change the lives of vulnerable people in their societies? One, restoring the dignity of vulnerable peoples through charity....

The most heart-warming feeling about penning my thoughts in these pages is aroused by readers, who reach out and share their feedback. Even when it seldom occurs, it is very humbling, to say the least!

“Let us remember” I argued in a recent article, “that one teenage mother supported is a life of a child protected.” This was the parting shot of my opinion regarding the contentious debate on whether pregnant and expectant teenage mothers should be permitted to resume school.

Moved by the opinions in the article, one reader contacted me via mail and a meeting planned afterwards, where we exchanged ideas about this topic and others. During our conversation, I was moved by this gentleman’s genuine concern for less advantaged people in society, particularly the elderly.      

Born in a family of eleven, Mathius Mbaziira’s life experience impressed upon him the concern for people living on the periphery of society. He remembers how his mother worked so hard to raise him and the siblings, memories which would later on inspire Mathius to found Support the Vulnerable Uganda a community based organisation (CBO) that supports vulnerable people in society. Gifted with such first-hand experience, my friend confided that “he knows what it means when one lacks the basic essentials of life.” Two elderly homeless blood brothers became his first charity story when he restored their sense of dignity by building for them a befitting simple house and pit- latrine. Mathius also shared with me about his partnerships with other CBOs, which support teenage pregnant and expectant mothers, and school-going children with scholastic materials; among other vulnerable groups of people. The focus of Support the Vulnerable Uganda navigates around three thematic areas: charity, financial literacy to rural poor folk and capacity building through skills training.

How then does Mathius, among many other Ugandans, change the lives of vulnerable people in their societies? One, restoring the dignity of vulnerable peoples through charity. Human dignity is an innate gift bestowed upon us by God, in whose image and likeness we are created. However, the brokenness and wounded-ness visible in the various structures of society pose a great threat to human dignity: cyclic poverty, structured violence, social and economic marginalisation, etc. Such are the underlying factors that cause and sustain high levels of poverty and sorrow to the extent that they deem possibilities of leading better lives and even worse, makes victims vulnerable to various forms of exploitation.

For instance, there is a correlation between adverse poverty and low levels of education or inaccessibility to proper health care or financial exclusion. Inaccessibility to the basic needs of life poses one of the greatest threats to human dignity, hence well-intended and well-designed charity restores this sense of dignity in the vulnerable folk.

Two, empowerment of vulnerable people through financial literacy where rural folk are enlightened on better financial management. This is can be done by exposing them to basic financial practices, such as record-keeping, saving and debt management, etc. This way, people are more likely to make better financial decisions as individuals or their families, businesses and local communities. In the same regard, people may become more knowledgeable about absorbing the financial shocks that they encounter in their lives. Three, capacity building for individuals through skills training which equips rural folk with the ability of self-sustenance.

Even more, self-sustenance brings about the sense of accountability [economic and political] where rural poor can slowly, but eventually realise that they have a big role to play in making the much desired difference in their communities, including choice of good political leaders.

Mr Augustine Bahemuka is a commentator on issues of     peace and society. [email protected]


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