Mrs Kityo’s Wakisa Ministries rescues pregnant young girls and gives them a home

It is impossible to talk about crisis pregnancy without mentioning Vivian Kityo or Wakisa Ministries. Mrs Vivian Kityo is a mother and grandmother and has been widowed for more than 25 years. Her husband, the late Rev Dr Canon George Kityo was a medical doctor but later joined the Anglican Church.

Having enrolled to study nursing at Nsambya Hospital in Kampala, Uganda, Mrs Kityo had the opportunity to work as a student nurse. One day, as she carried on with her duties at the women’s ward, she interfaced with a beautiful 14-year-old. The girl, who left a lasting memory in Mrs Kityo’s mind had been admitted with a fever after undergoing an abortion and developing septicaemia (a serious blood infection caused by bacteria). In the following days, she battled for her life but sadly, passed on.

Years later, Mrs Kityo got married and joined the Mothers’ Union. Members of the Union would meet on a weekly basis to discuss different issues pertaining to marriage life and family. One day, the topic under discussion was, ‘mothers having an open communication line with their daughters.’

As different members shared and advised, one stood up and emphasised the important of mothers opening a communication line with their daughters. She went on to share how her only daughter had become pregnant and fearing how her parents would react, she decided to procure an abortion. Unfortunately, she died in the process. 

“As this mother spoke, she broke down. However, my major connection point was when she mentioned her late daughter’s name. She shared a name with the girl I had met at Nsambya hospital. Soon after the meeting, I went to commiserate with her and also hear more of her heart breaking story. I then asked if her daughter had died in that particular hospital. She looked at me as though I had asked a strange question. When she later affirmed, I told her that I was working in that hospital seven years ago and had nursed a beautiful girl by that name.”

Starting out

From this meeting and the subsequent chat, the desire to do something to help such girls was birthed. Mrs Kityo later asked the Bishop of the Diocese if she could put a counselling room in the member’s hall to help girls who were struggling to come to terms with unwanted pregnancies. While he took time to give her an answer, when he called her, he said Mrs Kityo had to meet with an American woman, Barbara Porter, a member of Youth for Christ International, who seemed to share a similar vision and dream.

When they met, Porter and Mrs Kityo became cofounders of a Crisis Pregnancy Centre under Youth for Christ Uganda. “I became the first director in Uganda of Youth for Christ (YFC), the first crisis pregnancy centre of its kind in Uganda.”

After 14 years with YFC, Mrs Kityo moved on to start an indigenous, crisis pregnancy centre which she named Wakisa Ministries, which has served for 15 years now. The centre, whose name is coined from Mrs Kityo’s maiden name which means mercy, has so far helped more than 1800 girls aged between 12 and 19 years.

Over the years, it has been a journey of interfacing with so many touching stories of young, pregnant girls. One was a 14-year-old who gave birth to twins after being sexually abused by her father.

“The neighbours had noticed some strange behaviour between a father and daughter. It is they that advised him to bring the girl to Wakisa. The narrative he shared was that a young man had raped his daughter and he was looking for the perpetrator. The girl, who was three months pregnant only confirmed her father’s story. She also said that she had previously lived in the village with her mother. However, her mother had left, forcing her father to bring her back home.”

After the girl gave birth to twins by caesarean section, the team at Wakisa informed her father and asked him to come and see his daughter and grandchildren. On seeing them, he said he would like to take them back home and take care of them. He was told to wait at the reception as the girl and her babies were prepared for the journey but during all this activity, the girl started crying.

“She insisted on staying at Wakisa Ministries. As we urged her to go home with her father, she opened up in tears that her father had been abusing sexually and he was responsible for the pregnancy. We contacted the police and the girl’s mother who accepted to take care of her daughter and the babies.”

It was at this point Mrs Kityo reaffirmed the importance of Wakisa Ministries; a safe haven for such girls. She says the girls stay for as long as they are pregnant, then three months after delivery, their family is contacted to take them back home.

“However, in cases of incest, we find an alternative place to settle the girl and her baby. At times, it is a relative or if possible another family although this is not always easy. Oftentimes, these girls are blamed for the imprisonment of the father (breadwinner). It is, thus, our duty to ensure that they are safe, even after leaving the centre.”

Skills given

Apart from vocational and life skills training and sharing the word of God, the centre also endeavours to raise support and take some girls back to school. “I am thankful to God for the young mums we have sponsored and have since attained a degree. These young mums need to be empowered through formal education too. We also thank the Alumni working group who visit Wakisa once in a while to talk to the pregnant girls and bring some food items with them.”

Given a chance, Mrs Kityo says she desires to improve vocational skilling by introducing a proper, well-equipped hairdressing course which most girls say is the easiest and trendiest business to start in any community.

About Mrs Kityo

Mrs Kityo also holds a Diploma in Health Administration and a BSc in Administrative Studies from Ndejje University. She completed the Women Leadership and Marriage Counselling Course in Birmingham, UK, in 2001. She is currently pursuing a Master’s in Counselling Psychology at Ndejje University.

Mrs Kityo has held many leadership positions with the Mother’s Union both at the Ugandan and international levels. Additionally, she has served on various boards, including Mildmay Uganda and Christ’s Hope International.

Her long list of vocational awards includes recognitions from several Rotary International Clubs, New Vision Women’s Achiever Award in 2014 and both Country and Regional Africa’s Most Influential Women Award (Welfare and Civil Society) in 2015-2016.