An NGO supporting young people who suffer from social exclusion, including pregnant adolescents in Uganda

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The Development Charity Association (DECA) is a non-profit, non-denominational, apolitical, organization offering equal opportunities to all regardless of race, tribe, political beliefs, sexual inclination, religion and any form of societal stratification. The principle objective of DECA is campaigning, engaging stakeholders and actively participating in any activity that can reduce or eliminate any manner of stigmatization of any person or group of persons with particular emphasis on people who suffer social exclusion. DECA was founded in 2008 but had to operate without registration because of our conviction and beliefs until 2015, when we were finally registered as as a charity.

Research we conducted in 21 districts in Eastern Uganda from April to December 2015 revealed that 86,049 girls aged between 13 to 17 dropped out of school between 2012 and 2014 as a result of unwanted pregnancies.

The majority of these, 73,573, were a result of incest and defilement, which are criminal offences in Uganda, and others were due to child commercial sex, which is the consequence of excessive poverty levels in the region. Unfortunately, only 256 girls reported the crimes to the police. Most complained of police bureaucratic red tape, from corruption, as the cause of not reporting. It is these socially stigmatized excluded individuals who are supported by DECA.

Abortion is illegal in Uganda. This has placed a lot of strain on our work and multiplied our costs. Instead of reaching out to a targeted 5,000 pregnant children in the last 12 months, we could only help 143, due to financial and logistical limitations. In the next 12 months, we have plans to assist 3,000 if funds can be secured.

We work in the Kampala, Kayunga and Kamuli districts, to promote the right to sexual and reproductive health. We offer counselling to pregnant teenage girls and any specialized essential treatment they need, and address stigma and discrimination through socially excluded people’s peer networks and their use of friendly services available within the community. We support community condom education and availability, as well as distributing HIV/AIDS-related prevention commodities; offer risk reduction counselling and supplies through community-based outreach and peer outreach. We also partner with community- and facility-based socially excluded people’s services to increase HIV services and treatment uptake– and much more.

SOURCE: E-mail from DECA, 18 October 2016 ; PHOTO, Plan International