Barbie is a mother of four and wife to musician and self-proclaimed`Ghetto President’ Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine. She likes to tell stories about growing up in a small rural community of about 70 children who could together go out grazing cows, It is here, she says, she learnt everything; from dancing, getting along, and playing the flute.
Born to veterinarian parents, Barbie hails from a south western Uganda district of Ntungamo. Though she has fond memories of her childhood she says she is one of the lucky children to have lived as many babies died at birth or shortly thereafter because the only hospital was far away in the neighboring Rukungiri district.
“There was only one bus for public transport. This only bus served 5 districts. All pregnant mothers had to converge under a big tree and wait for its return from Mbarara town at 4pm if they wanted to deliver in Kisiizi Hospital. You had no option but to give birth at home if you got into labour in the night, through the day, or after 4pm,” she says. She recalls that her village had only one nurse – Aunt Mary – who attended to those who got trouble giving birth but she could not reach all the mothers.
She also recalls, most of her age-mates married before secondary school as they were grabbed by men on their way from the well and taken into marriage. She resented this and talked against it whenever she got an opportunity. When she joined University, she opted for a Social Work and Social Administration course because she thought it would drive her into activism. Four years ago, she became a full blown girl child activist when she started her own girl child and women organization called Caring Hearts Uganda.
She says being a church girl she got an opportunity to listen to stories of many girls; especially those who married not because they wanted to but because their parents had accepted dowry, something that she says still happens in her village. At Caring Hearts, she says they teach young girls the value of education and delaying sex.
“I was a virgin when I met my husband. They also can”, she says. For women, they teach them the importance of having a side income activity and not depending on the husband for everything.