“The men who were responsible for making my girls pregnant refused to support them. My grandchildren have also become my responsibility."
TEENAGE PREGNANCY | MAYUGE
Residents of Namalele village in Mayuge district want their leaders to address early childhood marriages in their area.
Residents blame men for abandoning their families, leaving the children under the care of mothers.
"It is hard for us mothers to juggle fending for the family and disciplining them. The burden is too heavy," said Betty Takuwa, a mother of nine.
Takuwa says her daughters dropped out of school at the age of 13, 14 and 15 due to lack of fees, and before she knew it, they were all pregnant.
"The men who were responsible for making my girls pregnant refused to support them. My grandchildren have also become my responsibility. If only my husband were around, he would have forced the men to take responsibility," she laments.
Small Nangobi, a mother of seven, says children tend to be more afraid of consequences and respectful when their fathers are present.
She says her daughters, too, got pregnant at an early age, leaving her overwhelmed with grandchildren.
The area MP, Robert Ntende, advised local leaders to work towards curbing teenage pregnancies in the area.
"When a mother identifies a man who is running after her teenage daughter, report the case to Police so the man is arrested and charged with defilement," he said.
He noted that the situation in the area is so bad that seven out of 10 girls in every household are dropping out of school due to teenage pregnancies.
Moses Ntenga, the director of Joy for Children, an NGO, notes that the number of teenage pregnancies remains high in the country.
"Statistics from the population secretariat show that out of the 1.2 million pregnancies that Uganda records annually, 25% are teenage pregnancies," he says.
He says in most cases, teenage girls are lured with gifts and money and they end up pregnant, after which the men run away.