By Charity Kalebbo.
My son was a problem. All he did was have sex with any woman he came across. Everyone in Entebbe knew he slept around yet he was still in his early 20â€™s,â€ says Samuel Dungu of Kampala Electronics and father of five.
â€œHe never felt ashamed of what he was doing. Reprimanding him was not going to help because I had tried this and failed.â€
â€œSo I had to swallow the bitter pill of pride and bought him three big boxes of condoms. I told him I do not want to bury you weighing a half kilo. Get these condoms and use them,â€ explains Dungu.
Mary Nantume, sister to Jackson Kaliisa, Dunguâ€™s son says: â€œKaliisa was surprised by daddyâ€™s action but he did not refuse the condoms.â€
Dungu says he got to know about his sonâ€™s promiscuous behaviour through neighbours. â€œConcerned neighbours told me about my son, I did not go on the defensive but started observing him. I realised the boy sneaked out every night and came back just in time for supper. As a parent, I knew that with such a reckless life, my child could easily get HIV.â€
â€œI am not saying every parent should buy their children condoms, but they saved my sonâ€™s life because he was having sex with married women as well,â€ says Dungu.
â€œKaliisa is settled and got married in his late twenties. I am a happy man now because my son did not die of Aids.â€
Nantume says: â€œAll I can say about Kaliisa is that he was humble and very hardworking at home. Whenever you wanted something done in the house, he was there to help you.â€
â€œWhen dad gave Kaliisa condoms, I thought it was a wise decision because I knew all the girls he used to have sex with. But I was tight lipped because he always told us (the siblings) not to dare say anything to daddy and mummy,â€ says Nantume.
However, the question is, would you give your child a condom or not?
Michael Mulwana, a father of three says whether I give them condoms or not, they have ways of getting them. â€œThe other day I was shocked when I lifted my Senior 3 sonâ€™s pillow from the bed and found condoms lined up. I stood in shock staring at the condoms and my son. Because I was so shocked, I could neither beat him nor shout at him.â€
â€œSo I asked him where he got the condoms from.â€ â€œThey gave them to us at school,â€ he answered. â€œWhat do you use them for?â€ I asked. â€œTo enjoy life,â€ he said walking away.â€
Mulwana says he sat down in the sitting room staring at the roof, asking himself what he had not done and what he was going to do.
He started talking to his son about sexual matters. However, his son was not too free to open up to me because they had never discussed sexual matters.
â€œI told him sex was good but only when married and the condom would not save his life. Then I told him the choice was his to either listen to what I had told him or to continue enjoying life.â€
â€œI do not know what he does when he goes to school; at home I now call it high-class pretence of being a good boy,â€ says Mulwana.
Jalia Kabagambe, a single mother of three says: â€œKnowledge is power, let the children learn bout condoms and decide what they want to do. In this day and age when you have nursed an Aids patient, you are not sure whether you should keep yelling no condom and yet the condom could have saved your child,â€ he says.
She adds: â€œParents need to talk to their children. But they should do so in love. Do not evade any question or else you run a risk of being accused by the child that you think they are sleeping around with men,â€ adds Kabagambe.
In a most recent drive, non-governmental organisations advocate for both abstinence and use of condoms when you cannot abstain.
â€œThe SPW volunteers give us three condoms free of charge everyday,â€ says 15-year-old Atieno Christine in S.3 at Nakaloke Secondary School in Mbale.
Spw is a charity organisation that educates young people on sexual matters and has volunteers that have been educating and giving condoms to students in the schools they visit. They also visited Namunsi primary school and gave condoms to P.6 and P.7 pupils.
Straight Talk Foundation, another sex education Ngo educates students on how to use condoms, but True Love Waits, a Christian sexual education NGO objects to the teaching and the distribution of condoms because they see it as morally wrong.
Catherine Watson, the director communication at Straight Talk Foundation says: â€œWe are very pro-condoms because they could save a life out there but it is wrong for condoms to be given away in a disorganised and haphazard way in schools.
Because this gives false confidence to the students and creates pressure on them to start sex even when they are not ready. Sex should be systematically thought through before being indulged in, that is why we believe in empowering students with the knowledge. Then leave the decision to them.â€
â€œAn informed person will make very good decisions and they are in a better position than the un-informed that is why we at Straight Talk Foundation teach the students how to use the condom and the decision for them to use the condoms or not is left to them.
But we do not give out condoms to students because we are not a service delivery organisation,â€ says Suzan Ajok, the operations officer of Straight Talk Foundation.
There is a group of parents who believe that some NGOâ€™s are advertently promoting sex and television adverts have made the situation worse by misleading the students. The parents believe the adverts give children false confidence and encourage the students to go and have sex.
â€œGiving people condoms is morally wrong and gives them false confidence. The condom cannot save anyoneâ€™s life so if I found my child with a condom, I would counsel him and pray for him and tell him the condom will not save him but destroy him. However, in marriage, it is okay for people to discuss the condom,â€ says Stephen Langa, a father and Director of Family Life Network.
While Langa takes a firm stand on â€˜No condom for studentsâ€™, Rachael Kyomuhangi of Kyabalagala modern high school on Hioma Road has this to say: â€œThis year, we had four couples in our school expelled because they were found having sex in school. Since they do not allow condoms in our school, I think the students were having live sex.â€
â€œSo I support the idea of distributing condoms in schools because it will prevent school children from contracting sexually transmitted diseases and it will reduce on pregnancies in school, adding that: â€œThe students who were expelled are only a small number compared to those having sex in my school. The rest are sha-rp. They escape from school and hire lodges and do their stuff there. Then come back to school pretending to be innocent.â€
Sheikh Sulaiman Kakeeto totally disagrees with Kyomuhangi. He says whether Aids or not, it is wrong to give students condoms.
â€œGiving students condoms leads them into premature sex and promiscuous behaviour. I condemn it in the strongest terms possible,â€ says Kakeeto.
Father Lawrence Kanyike of St. Augustine Chapel Makerere University says he totally disagrees with condoms being distributed in schools.
â€œWhether AIDS or no Aids, I put my foot down. There should be no condoms in schools. How can we claim to be raising up independently and be morally upright people when promoting promiscuity among young people with the so called lifeguard?â€
He lashed out saying people say they are preserving life with lifeguard without asking what quality of life they are preserving.
Namirembe Bitamazire minister of state for primary education says she did not know condoms are being given out in schools.
â€œYou are telling me about condoms being given out in school. I will investigate the matter and get back to you with concrete facts then I can comment on the ministryâ€™s policy.â€ After all this is what we are we left to believe, should we borrow words of the late bishop Misairi Kauma and say, â€œIf you will be foolish, do not be stupid, use a condom,â€ or should we say no condoms? Ends
Would You Give Your Child A Condom?