‘Marrying to Survive’ in Uganda

Madina, 17, faced a wretched set of options as a refugee in Uganda. She and her family fled the war in southern Sudan but there was little by way of support for her or the four younger sisters who needed care. Her mother asked her to marry so that the bridal price would help. Madina did not want to marry for that reason alone and sought to alleviate their need with income from occasional work.

As a refugee, though, without much education or training, she couldn’t hope to get a good, steady job.

Crossroads sent a shipment to the town where Madina lives, and she was identified by our local partner to benefit. They gave Madina a ‘start up package’ of things she could use to begin a small clothing business. Now, she owns a mobile business selling clothes door to door.

“You are different”, she told them, with gratitude. “You have made me feel loved in a foreign land.  With this new business, I will be able to provide for my mother and pay school fees for my sisters instead of marrying. You are changing our lives.”

Also included in the container was furniture for three schools, along with provision for many of the most impoverished families in the community.

“You have helped put a smile on many of these faces,” the NGO told us. “You have helped restore hope to those that had lost hope.”

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Uganda Snapshot

Population: 37.58 million
Capital: Kampala

Uganda is a fertile, land-locked country in East Africa, in the Africa Great Lakes region, with a tropical climate.

Great progress has been made in fighting HIV in Uganda, but 1.5 million people still live with the disease, and there are 1 million children orphaned by HIV/AIDS.

39% of girls are married by the age of 18. 37.7% of people in Uganda live below the international poverty line of US$1.25/day.

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