Maria Batarisa’s StoryMaria Batarisa, 22 years. From ghetto, to a CEO.

At a tender age of 2years, Maria lost her father to HIV/AIDs. By then, Maria and her family were living in Kilangira slum, in the ghetto of Kamwokya, Kampala City. Maria’s mother remained the sole bread winner for her two children, that is, Maria and her brother.

“We were three people, sharing one room, and a single bed. When it rained, it was terrible,” says Maria.

ECM registered Maria under the child sponsorship program when she was in Primary 4. Maria’s performance was tremendous throughout primary education as she was often among the first three children in her class.

2 years later, her mother fell critically ill and was bedridden. It was at this point in time when Maria started engaging in sexual dealings with different men, whom her little brother would often refer to as ‘uncle’.

“Some days we would go to bed with empty stomachs. I had to live for my family. I had to take care of myself,” noted Maria.

Due to the trauma, stress and depression, Maria’s mother’s health worsened and this went on through to her vocational training.

“In ghettos, girls begin engaging in sexual intercourse at the age of 10. The rape cases in ghetto are not reported to police, as it is looked at as normal.” Said Justice Maruda, ECM Coordinator Kamwokya Program.

Mr. Maruda continued to narrate that through constant engagements with Maria’s brother, he understood that she was having sexual engagements for financial security. He then took it upon himself to explain to Maria the existence and gravity of HIV/AIDs, and the dangers of prostitution.

The constant counselling yielded. In 2016, after finishing her vocational training, Maria got saved, started attending church and met a Godly man, with whom they got married. Luckily, she did not contract the disease. Together with her husband, they started an education center in Mpererwe, a Kampala suburb.

Meanwhile, Maria was using birth control pills from primary 7. These have affected Maria till date in a way that she cannot conceive. It will take some time before the chemicals can wear out.

After she got saved, and made a life, her mother’s health improved and even though she is HIV positive, she is currently living a hopeful life.

Maria’s brother is currently at the university, under Maria’s sponsorship

Mr. Maruda continued to narrate that through constant engagements with Maria’s brother, he understood that she was having sexual engagements for financial security. He then took it upon himself to explain to Maria the existence and gravity of HIV/AIDs, and the dangers of prostitution.

“In ghettos, girls begin engaging in sexual intercourse at the age of 10. The rape cases in ghetto are not reported to police, as it is looked at as normal.” Said Justice Maruda, ECM Coordinator Kamwokya Program.