Bukulu Abubaker is a 25-year-old Population Studies graduate from Makerere University in Uganda. He has been a volunteer with Reproductive Health Uganda (RHU) for three years now, participating in hundreds of community mobilization activities. In this post, Bukulu talks about how COVID-19 restrictions have affected young people, and how he has continued to engage in volunteer opportunities during this time.
“When the COVID-19 restrictions were imposed in our country, it left many young people stranded about where to get their regular information and services on sexual reproductive health and rights. Before this, many young people could easily walk into youth-friendly health facilities such as those at Reproductive Health Uganda (RHU) and get a wide range of services tailored to their needs.
However, following the restrictions, some young people ended up being ‘locked down’ with their abusers, and which contributed to the increased cases of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), child marriages and teenage pregnancies. As a result of this, you will find that many young girls may not be able to go back to school once the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
During this period of the pandemic, as a volunteer I’ve still been able to contribute significantly to RHU. I have participated in several e-conferences and webinars on youth and SRHR during crisis times, which have increased my understanding on the topic. I have then shared this new information on different social media platforms. I have also been involved in developing messages for social media dissemination that have reached many Ugandan youth and empowered them to make healthy choices.
When some of the lockdown measures were eased following the Ministry of Health Standard Operating Procedures, I was part of the team of young people who mobilized youth in Jinja to seek services from the health camps that were organized by various organizations, among them RHU which was offering SRH services. Currently, I’m working with the RHU COVID-19 task force team to prevent the spread of the virus among the clients we serve. I’m charged with undertaking communication campaigns, and this includes developing posters and messages for social media publication.”