It seemed for Petua that life was coming to an end. Raped by a man in her Ugandan village she found herself pregnant and afraid, her own family not believing her story. Even a forced, attempted abortion failed.
Other girls in her situation often find themselves married off by age 14, with a child by age 15 and divorced in five years. Not unlike her family, many parents ostracise the pregnant teens or tell them to leave home. Abortion and suicide are not uncommon. Five months pregnant, Petua was living with no hope, no peace, and no support.
An aunt heard about Youth for Christ’s work with pregnant teens, how they helped them, took them in, loved and cared for them. A connection was made and Petua moved into Youth for Christ’s Mirembe House.
“Mirembe means peace,” said Miriam Koote, the Youth for Christ Uganda National Director. “We want the Mirembe House to be a place of peace, a place of joy, where there will be healing and hope.”
Youth for Christ Uganda’s work with pregnant teens began in 1992. The young women in the programme come from the capital city of Kampala and the surrounding districts. Christians, Muslims, atheists, all are welcome, agreeing to be part of this new family, doing chores, cooking, cleaning, and participating in a programme of individual and group counselling, life-skill, vocational, and discipleship training. These young women are equipped to be mothers and handle the many responsibilities that come with it. “They learn that God is able to help you if you trust Him,” said Miriam.
Many become followers of Jesus, Miriam said, some during the programme and some when they go back home. Petua was one who came to follow Christ during her stay at the Mirembe House. She lived there, like the other young women do, until she had her baby and they returned to her family and village. It wasn’t easy for her, but she went back to school and eventually got her degree in Human Resource Management. Fifteen years later she is raising her son in a godly way. This August she was married.
There are many other young women like Petua. Every year Youth for Christ Uganda works with about 150 pregnant teenagers. Until recently the teen pregnancy programme worked out of a rented house. Youth for Christ Uganda is excited to soon be moving into a permanent, new Mirembe House. Thanks to generous partners the construction on the home should be completed in December. The move-in date should be shortly after the first of the year.
“Many girls are going to be blessed through that home,” Miriam said. “They are going to gain hope. They are going to gain peace. Most of all they are going to get to know the Lord and to give back to their babies the love and care they have experienced.”
In addition to its outreach to pregnant teenagers the Youth for Christ Uganda team of 15 staff also works in schools doing evangelistic and discipleship programmes, hosts a radio programme, educational programme, vocational training and two different prayer ministries.
For more information about our programme in Uganda, visit ug.yfci.org