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Backing the Brave- “A story of change”by Cuko Emmanuel-Peer Educator 2020
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Backing the Brave- “A story of change”by Cuko Emmanuel-Peer Educator 2020

Backing the Brave- “A story of change”

Growing up in the rural community of Obongi district, West Nile – Northern Uganda, within a polygamous family and under the care of economically disadvantaged, peasant parents, my early years were marked by hardship. Tragically, I became orphaned at the tender age of nine (9). In such circumstances, it seemed unlikely that I would ever be granted an opportunity to shape my own future. The world appeared devoid of hope.

Within the context of my humble origins, education, often ref erred to as “the light of the world,” was not widely embraced. The limited exposure to civilization only served to reinforce this notion. Instead of prioritizing education, the prevailing attitude was to prematurely end our schooling, usually around grades P5 and P6, in order to enter early marriages or be betrothed to others. It was a reality that most of us faced, with few venturing beyond these early stages.

I am grateful to Providence that despite the challenges I faced, I managed to progress from primary school to secondary school and eventually to university. As the first university student from my parish, my life became a beacon of hope and a testament to the idea that achieving such milestones is indeed possible. Today, I proudly serve as a peer educator, and I attribute this success to the guidance of God and the formative experiences of my earlier countryside life.

Those experiences prepared me for the realization of the world I desired to live in—a world free from gender-based violence and the biases imposed by tradition, culture, and society. I recognized the imbalance within certain cultural norms and felt compelled to advocate for the rights of minority groups, including women, young people, and those with disabilities. This passion led me to become a peer educator with RAHU, knowing that I had a crucial role to play in my community.

Becoming a peer educator completely transformed my world. I now possess a deep understanding of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) knowledge, as well as a range of skills. I have connected with a supportive network of individuals who share the same commitment to empowering parents and children alike. It is worth noting that in our community, our parents and elders would often insist that a boy’s destiny revolved around caring for animals, hunting, fishing, farming, and getting married at an early age, once he reached manhood (around 15 years old). Conversely, our sisters were discouraged from pursuing education, let alone considering it.

Fortunately, those outdated beliefs are fading away, thanks to the tireless efforts of a significant number of parents in my community, despite their predominantly peasant backgrounds. They work diligently to provide their children with the best education possible, rejecting the notions of our grandparents’ generation.

Growing up at the intersection of contemporary life, encompassing high school and university, and traditional life, deeply rooted in cultural practices characterized by biases (which I came to realize as I grew older and studied), proved to be a hidden blessing. It provided me with the opportunity to discern, compare, and choose what was best for myself and my marginalized community.

This unique upbringing fueled my aspiration to join humanitarian missions and undertake meaningful responsibilities. With unwavering passion, I am dedicated to dedicating my life to the fight for sexual, reproductive, gender, and human rights for marginalized groups, irrespective of their location in the world.

Inspired by the legacies of great leaders such as Dr Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, and Mahatma Gandhi, I aim to leave an indelible mark on my community, district, and country. My ultimate goal is to influence beliefs and policies that will have a positive and enduring impact, inspiring generations to come.








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