Francesca Aryemo, a twenty-five year old teacher, plays an important support role for the students at Adonai Primary School. Fondly referred to as Franca in her community, she is a teacher of English at the school located in Paicho sub-county, Gulu district, a forty-minute drive along the Gulu-Kitgum highway. She is passionate about the work she does with children and proud to see them develop and grow.
Francesca with one of her students (© BarfootLaw)
“Teaching has helped me appreciate that each of students is different, and they need to be supported in these differences. For example, some of my students have disabilities, some are introvert and others, extroverts,” Franca tells.
She also is also passionate about justice issues in her community, especially the rights of girls and women and has volunteered in her community to mobilise women to participate in trainings that can help them with rights issues.
Through the LEWUTI project, which is a project that mobilizes the use of digital solutions and mediation to overcome barriers of geography, knowledge and cost to deliver access to justice to women, Franca was able to learn how to use her mobile phone, to access help from a lawyer.
‘’The legal sensitization helped me very much because it opened my mind to information on the law. Now, I have continued access to this legal information, via the phone through SMS and phones calls, and they respond to me,’’ Franca says.
A joyful Francesca leads her students through a nursery rhyme (© BarfootLaw)
Teaching was never Franca’s profession of choice, but a circumstance. She, however, has grown to love it. ‘‘I always wanted to be a nurse, but my family did not have money to take me to medical school,’’ Franca narrates.
When she finished her secondary school, she was forced to drop out of school system, to become a maid to be able to make some money, for the next part of her professional journey.
‘‘I saved the money I made from being a house maid to pay for my first term at the teaching college.’’
She asserted that it was not easy going through school, so she took on odd jobs like doing laundry for other students, to afford school logistics such as books. ‘
‘Knowing my background, I worked hard at school. I never felt sad about my situation,’’ Franca adds enthusiastically.
It is this attitude that when the opportunity presented itself, she happily took it up. The Principal of the teaching college knew of her story and called to ask if Franca was okay with being posted to a distant school.
‘‘I agreed instantly!’’ Franca tells. She mentions the idea of teaching a village school was frowned upon by the young teachers. “Everyone wanted to teach a school within town. I didn’t care, I just wanted to teach.”
Franca is more than a teacher
Franca is now more than just a teacher, but a councillor to the girls in her school. She shared a story about one of her students, Kevin, a fourteen-year-old with a mental disability, who was defiled by a man from the village and has since escaped and remains at large.
Francesca is able to reach our lawyers, free of charge, for legal guidance for either herself, or her students (© BarfootLaw)
“With constant consultation from the BarefootLaw team, we are following up the case with our local council leader,” Franca shares.
She notes that the help is very welcome as she is able to consult the lawyers through phone and text, as a result of learning how to use the digital tools in the LEWUTI project training.
In the meantime, as they await justice, Franca is fundraising for child-care essentials for Kevin, to get her ready for the birth of her baby.
“My wish for her child is that she does not ever experience what her mother went through,” she tells.
Through the community sensitisation of the LEWUTI project and the in-person conversations with beneficiaries, more women are able to access important information on their rights and find simple, accessible avenues through which they can be legally empowered