Mary during the Mobile court session.
Mary is a 34-year-old single mother of three children. Mary was born and raised in Abim town council for the most part of her life. Since Mary is not formally employed, she relies solely on small scale agriculture and casual work for survival.
In 2019 Mary gave birth to twins. “After giving birth, my worry was the fact that twins are so demanding and given the nature of my work I could not do much to support them.” Fortunately for Mary, the father to the children was fortunately a government official and had the capacity to provide for our twins”
For the first six months after delivery, Mary’s husband would send her money and buy some basic items to support the children. But after some time, he stopped supporting them. “I had to rely on casual labour to provide for the basic needs of the children. I tried talking to his friends and relatives, but all fell on a deaf ear.”
She was told by her husband’s friend that he (the husband) claimed that the twins were not his children. It’s at this point that she sought for support. “Because of the empowerment trainings I and other women in our community had received from SAO, I decided to report the matter to my local council one chairperson who then referred me to the Child and family protection unit of police where I reported the matter.”
Mary’s husband was summoned to police but he did not turn-up for three months. “At this point I had lost hope and I was painfully taking care of my children.’’
‘’ While I had left everything to the will of God, A police man came to my home one day informing me that my case was going to be heard in a mobile court organized by Share An Opportunity Uganda (SAO) in Orwamuge parish in Lotuke sub county and the father of my children was going to be a defendant to the case. At first, I thought it was a lie because I had never heard of such a thing as a mobile court.’’
Finally the court sat and Mary went with her children and the local council one chairperson as her witness. She also got the support of the probation officer and the lawyer from Uganda law society whom Share an opportunity had invited to participate in the mobile court.
During the court ruling, Mary’s husband accepted that he was the biological father of the twins after thorough interrogation by resident state attorney, he also asked for forgiveness from the community.
“The Magistrate ordered him to support the children and an agreement was made by the senior probation and welfare officer for us to sign. In the agreement, failure for the man to support us, magistrate would recommend for a standing order on his bank account through the powers of the chief administrative officer of the district so that the money could be deducted directly from his bank account for a period of 18 years. He was also promised imprisonment in case of breach of the agreement by probation officer and child and family protection unit.”
Mary explains that they currently feel supported because the father of her children gives them money to meet their basic needs as a family.
“I also plan on starting an income generating activity so that I can be assured of money to take care of my children even when my husband refuses to support us.”