Orphans & Vulnerable Children
One Day Can Change a Life
Quote: “Africare COPE clubs have raised my esteem and made me realize I am a special person.”
By the age of 14, Agnes Atukwatse had already thought about running away from home to work as a house girl or barmaid, whichever would come first. She had left school due to the lack of school fees, and she couldn’t stand the pressure from her peers and old men in her village demanding sex in exchange for petty things such as knickers and hankies. She thought there was no one to talk to about the challenges she was going through because her parents were poor and could not help her with her problems. She felt inferior and pessimistic.
One day a friend took her to an Africare COPE Club* in their Ugandan village of Mutojo – a day that changed her life forever. Nurtured and inspired by the COPE Club activities, she has since emerged as the best performing member of the club and now teaches peers about HIV/AIDS risk factors, peer pressure, drug and substance abuse, and psycho-social support. She makes handcrafts that she sells to help her parents, and she is back in school.
“I almost made a decision that would have put an end to my life, seeking to be a barmaid. COPE clubs have raised my esteem and made me realize I am a special person. My talents, my ideas and my dreams all make me special.”
*COPE (Community-based Orphan Care Protection and Empowerment) clubs have been established for orphaned and vulnerable children who meet weekly to participate in sports, sing and dance, and learn about HIV/AIDS prevention. These clubs are just one piece of the multi-faceted, integrated programs that comprise the COPE Project.