Empowerment unleashed: A journey of hope and innovation for teenage mothers

April 4, 2024

by Stella Rita Nabukeera, Smile Again Family project

International Women’s Day serves not just as a beacon of celebration for women’s achievements but also as a critical reminder of the enduring struggles for equality and the urgent need for inclusivity in our societies. The theme for this year’s observance, “Invest in women: Accelerate progress” resonated deeply with our beliefs at the Smile Again Family Project. It reinforced our commitment to daily endeavor aimed empowering and rehabilitating abandoned teenage mothers, enabling them to realise and harness their full potential.

Anticipation filled the air as Smile Again Family Project kick started the celebration of the women’s day festivities a week in advance, extending a warm invitation to the rights holders – the resilient teenage mothers – to partake in the global celebration. Aligning with the year’s theme, we sought to expand our support beyond the provision of essential computer skills. In a novel initiative, we introduced baking skills training, aimed at providing a multifaceted tool for empowerment.

The introduction of a local fried bake preparation training for the teenage mothers emerged as a beacon of hope and independence. It empowered these young women to not only save the money by substituting purchased snacks with their homemade creations but also to consider the possibility of entrepreneurship within their communities. This initiative wasn’t just about learning a new skill; it was about instilling confidence, fostering community, and sparking an interest in self-sustenance and business.

When the father of my child rejected us, I saw no future for myself beyond despair. If not for the compassionate individual who guided me here, I might not have made it through. Unaware of the support and love waiting for me, I couldn’t have envisioned running a business or using a computer. Now, the skills I’ve learned are fueling my passion and laying the foundation for my snack business. - Shakira, a rightsholder

Some of the Solidarity Members during the baking training on 08th March 2024 at Smile Again Family Project Premises.
Some of the solidarity Members during the baking training on 08th March 2024 at Smile Again Family Project Premises.

The apex of our celebration was a gathering at our premises on March 8th, 2024 welcoming solidarity groups from neighboring communities. The air buzzed with excitement, learning, and the sharing of heartfelt stories of progress and ongoing challenges. The visible joy and smiles on the faces of our rightsholder were a testament to the profound impact of Smile Again initiatives. These expressions of happiness narrated silent stories of transformation from despair to hope, from isolation to belonging.

On this year’s Women’s Day, I truly have a reason to celebrate. Last year, I felt weakened, surrounded by doubt and darkness, especially about my ability to provide for my baby. Now, I’m filled with hope, running a small business that’s flourishing, ensuring a brighter future for us both.” – Janat, a rightsholder

I’m relieved my baby is well and my delivery will be safe. Despite facing rejection and judgment, choosing not to abort was my best decision. Seeing my colleagues succeed, I’m confident I’ll make it too.” – Namala Caroline, a rightsholder.

When we remember the grief, sadness, despair, and coldness that was seen on the faces of these mothers at the beginning and the joy, hope and big smile they portray now we can confidently admit that however little it may seem, we are investing in women and we are accelerating progress.” – Stella Staff of Smile Again

Shakira’s story and others (as cited earlier on) is a touching illustration of the transformative power of support and opportunity. Facing rejection and contemplating the darkest outcomes, they found a beacon of hope within our community. Today, her newfound skills in computing and baking are not just activities; they are pillars of a new life foundation, supporting her entrepreneurial spirit and reinforcing her self-worth. Her journey from desolation to empowerment embodies the essence of our mission

Some of the solidarity Members during the baking training on 08th March 2024 at Smile Again Family Project Premises.

The narrative of Women’s inclusion extends beyond being a mere buzzword, it is a fundamental requisite for a thriving and equitable society. Embracing diversity, empowering women, and breaking barriers pave the way for a world where success is accessible to all. It’s a call to action to champion women’s rights, to nurture their aspiration, and to collectively strive towards a future where every woman’s voice is not just heard but valued. The journey of the Smile Again Family Project and its rights holders underscores the profound impact of investing in women, a testament to the unstoppable momentum of progress and hope.