Women Learn the Route to
a Prosperous Future
HIV Positive victims, HIV widows at empowerment workshop in rural Mbarara
ULA Director Samson Turinawe introduces new concepts of self-empowerment to women in Kamwengye Western Region
Through our Women's Empowerment Workshops, we offer support, guidance and concrete tools to women living primarily in the rural areas of Uganda, where poverty and the subjugation of women are at the most extreme (e.g. Mubende, Isigiro, Kamwengye, Mbarara, Ibanda, Fort Portal, Jinja, Lakai, Soronko, etc.). Our participants include women in general, women affected by HIV and AIDS, widows, single mothers, and those who are victims of domestic violence.
Our program includes: human rights awareness, building and practicing self-esteem, nutrition, sanitation, food production for home consumption and sale. Women are given opportunities to practice new skills and ways to assert their rights through dramatization and group presentation.
We prioritize providing women with concrete income-generating methods in order to promote their economic self-sufficiency. In rural areas, the most expedient and profitable way for a woman to begin earning a living is through agriculture. Our workshops teach the best gardening systems for food production for home use and for sale. Our Harmony Gardens program includes workshops that focus on efficient and productive gardening techniques and marketing skills.
Women also learn:
Which products are best for the market in a location
Record-keeping on income and expenditure
How to form women’s saving and credit groups
Collaboration with groups for information sharing
Many of our Workshop attendees have harnessed the teachings by starting income-generating activities that have changed their lives and those of their families. To ensure that our workshops have lasting impact, we at ULA act as a conduit for small start-up grants for women who are opening up small businesses (such as livestock and produce farming, and/or selling in market stalls). We also provide women with counseling and legal support, in cases of physical and mental abuse.
Impact of Workshops on Tuhire Beatrice
In 2017, a ULA donor contributed $200 specifically aimed to support
a woman in need. The money was granted to Tuhire Beatrice, a woman living near Kampala, also a widow with two children. Beatrice had attended ULA workshops on women’s rights and income generation.
“I would like to thank ULA for enabling me to start a small business that has helped my girl study for her career. After the death of my husband from HIV AIDS, my in-laws, by custom, took our land, and they never considered the hardship on me with my children. I stayed at my parent’s home with my children, but my brothers were saying that I should give my children up to my husband’s clan."
So I decided to move out to a “trading center” (a complex of stalls for selling goods with adjacent minimal low-cost housing). I struggled hard, doing wash at people’s homes, trying to get enough money for school fees, rent and life support for my two kids. I soon became weak and sickly and was not able to work. My rent accumulated; my elder son left home and I remained with my daughter.
Then one friend told me about ULA and its work with oppressed people – HIV women, sexual minorities and children, the empowerment workshops they deliver. She shared with me the date they were to give a workshop at my home cell (a section of a village). I attended my first ULA empowerment workshop in March, 2017. All the issues they talked about touched my heart, and I felt I could do something for myself and my children. I started attending ULA workshops whenever they were being delivered in our area.
After the fourth one, I approached one of ULA staff, told her my situation, and what I intend to do. She told me to write down a plan of that activity and send it to the ULA coordinator in our community … which I did. I would purchase produce wholesale and sell it retail at the trading center. A month later, after an interview, I was told that ULA had approved a grant for me to start my small business. I was happy and my life changed! I started selling greens, tomatoes, yellow banana, passion fruits, onions, cereals, and other foods. At six months, I was having success. I now am able to pay my rent on time, and my daughter has enrolled in a catering course in the college that will give her a career. ULA support has changed my life. I am heathy, I think well and am providing a meaning and security for my children."
Kiconco Seodius, in Kabasina
"When my husband died in 2011, I lost hope. I got very worried about how I will raise the children. I was just a house wife who had never thought of doing a business. My neighbor approached me into joining a network of women whom ULA was training in a workshop to teach income generation. They chose a number of women to assist in the rearing of Enkooko Enyankole (“local chickens” in Runyankole language) as an income generating project, and I was one of them. We were divided into groups and ours was successful. Amongst members of our group were some who had been trained in nutrition.
In the workshop, we were trained on correct bookkeeping of income and expenditures. We were also provided with local hens which I could keep nearby and which gave me eggs to sell. This helps me so much, for eggs of Enkooko Enzunga (“exotic chickens/chickens white man brought”) are more expensive and in high demand in the community where I live. And now I do not need to travel to look for a market to get less expensive eggs for myself, and can feed the chickens with local feed.
Through this support by ULA, I have sustainable income through rearing local hens. My children are able to get a high school education because of the money I earn. ULA has given me life. I can educate, clothe and feed my children. I now have a project that is local and easy to manage that helps me to earn a living with my village. My eyes are opened to see local opportunities, and ULA stands with me to use them for the benefit of my children and the community where I live.”