Baking Hope: The Triumph of a Breastfeeding Mother in Vocational Skills

In the heart of the Kiryandongo refugee settlement, where the sun painted the sky with shades of orange and gold on a Thursday evening, there was a tale of perseverance and triumph – a true reflection of resilience for the young women who drop out of school. Amidst the tents and makeshift shelters, lived Adong Betty Flavia, a Ugandan national and a young mother who had just graduated from the Skills Training for Employment Promotion (STEP) project; implemented by Windle International Uganda (WIU) and Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) with funding from Enabel through European Union Trust Fund (EUTF).

Life in the settlement is a daily struggle, but Adong refused to let adversity define her. Adong dropped out of school in primary four because her parents could not afford school fees and other scholastic needs. She was however determined to create a better future for herself and her child. When she heard about a vocational skills training program being offered in the settlement, she saw it as an opportunity she couldn’t afford to miss. The training programs included a range of vocational skills such as hairdressing, catering and bakery, welding, motorcycle repair, electrical and electronics.

For Adong, there was still a significant hurdle: She was still breastfeeding her child, and she couldn’t bear the thought of leaving him for long hours to attend classes. But she refused to let this obstacle deter her. With the support of the WIU program team and fellow learners, a solution was found. Adong would bring her child to class, and there was a designated space for breastfeeding and childcare.

With this support in place, Adong jumped into her vocational training with grit. She learned skills in bakery and catering, discovering a talent she never knew she possessed. The curriculum emphasized practical knowledge and hands-on experience through work based learning, ensuring that the graduates were well-prepared for real-world challenges.

Despite the challenges of balancing motherhood and studies, Adong excelled in her classes, fuelled by the love for her child and desire to build a better future for them both.

“I chose bakery and catering because I saw an opportunity for me to make money. And thankful, through this course and training, I am already making money. In a week, I am able to make between 30,000 to 50,000 Ugandan shillings” Adong excitedly revealed.

Through the money she makes Adong revealed that she is able to pay school fees for her daughter but also take care of her young boy child.

She notes that because of this, she will have a better future and be be able to support her parents well.

Adong has been able to join a savings groups and hopes she can save enough money to buy land and a cow so that she can easily pay school fees for her child. She also wants to set up a restaurant in Bweyale Town Council, Kiryandongo district.

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