Grassroots Uganda- Empowering African Women

Mission: Grassroots Uganda- Empowering African Women is an NGO working with Women in the slums and rural areas of Uganda. We provide training in craft making, business skills, and money management, while paying our Artisans fair wages for their work. Our Mission is to give our women a hand up, instead of a hand out, so that they can pull themselves out of poverty. Founding Principles and Our Purpose: Women are the backbone of Uganda. They carry out all the domestic duties of life without running water, electricity, or any of the basic conveniences of modern life. Th...

Grassroots Uganda- Empowering African Women
plot 130 jinja rd
box 455
Mukono, Mukono 0
Uganda
256774169978
http://www.ugandagrassroots.org

Board of Directors

Moses Wampamba, Esther Namutamba, Fred Kyakonye, Flavia Anying, Aisha Nandudu, Christopher Kulabako, Lee Koelzer

Project Leaders

Lee Koelzer

Mission

Mission: Grassroots Uganda- Empowering African Women is an NGO working with Women in the slums and rural areas of Uganda. We provide training in craft making, business skills, and money management, while paying our Artisans fair wages for their work. Our Mission is to give our women a hand up, instead of a hand out, so that they can pull themselves out of poverty. Founding Principles and Our Purpose: Women are the backbone of Uganda. They carry out all the domestic duties of life without running water, electricity, or any of the basic conveniences of modern life. They are also often seen as property. Most are denied basic education, and many are married off at an early age. These women are capable of hand plowing a three acre field and can carry over 100 lbs on their heads, but they have no basic skills. Often, they do not even know how to hold a pencil. Grassroots Uganda is focused on helping these women raise themselves out of poverty while working within both gender and cultural borders. We provide skills training, and teach the women the importance of investing in their own and their children's futures. We also have a strong foothold in promoting the arts. Uganda is a beautiful and vibrant country, but unfortunately, creative expression is limited. We welcome artists who are open minded and willing to break out of the confines of the 'copy and repeat' lifestyle. Whenever possible, we use local, recycled, and environmentally friendly materials. Even our product tags are biodegradable! In addition to our Artists, we also do a fair amount of small scale community development work. All of these projects are initiated by our women, and we classify them as 'random acts of kindness.' We have eight children who we sponsor, and we periodically have events where we give out goats and chickens to especially needy families. We give away eyeglasses, build latrines, pay medical bills the list goes on. As we are a small organization, we have almost no red tape restricting who we can help, so if someone needs a random act of kindness, we can jump in with both feet!

Programs

Our main focus is on Women's Empowerment, and helping people raise themselves out of poverty by giving them a hand-up instead of a hand-out. We work with five women's groups and an artist co-operative, which together encompass about 200 women. The women make 2-5 times more money selling with us, than they do selling the same wares on a local market. Each women's group governs itself and we work together as partners. We believe that Ugandans helping Ugandans has a much stronger long term effect than western people coming in and telling Ugandans what to do. We provide training in craft making including paper bead jewelry, basket weaving, tailoring and textiles, doll making, ect. We assist the women with an international venue in which to sell their crafts as the local market is limited. We also provide training in business, money management, health, decision making and healthy life choices, and the importance of the women investing in themselves. With empowerment, we believe that we can empower our women so that they can pay their own children's school fees, instead of begging for sponsors. They can pay their own medical bills, buy their own food, and support themselves. We are successful and our women are proud, strong, and dedicated. That said, there are times when people need help. A boost that jump starts them in a productive direction. This is why we have a series of small scale development initiatives called "Special Projects." With our special projects, we support a child run household of three boys living in a slum. Their mother died of AIDS and as the family immigrated as refugees, the children do not have additional family to care for them. We also sponsor a very intelligent HIV+ orphan boy and a young orphan girl. Every year we host a goat give-away. Goats are easy animals to care for. They eat anything, and require almost no veterinary services. The meat is tasty, fetches a high price in the market, and does not offend any religious group active in Uganda. Every year we host a "Goat Giveaway" where one of our women's groups meets with the village elders, and as a committee, they identify families who are especially needy. We then give each family one pregnant goat. Giving a pregnant goat is an investment in the family's future as it guarantees the goat is fertile and can produce more goats. If the baby goats are female, they can be used to produce more and more goats, and if the offspring are male, they are sold to the butchers. Goat giveaways are a fantastic way to give people a hand up, and help them invest in their futures. We built a latrine at Busy Bee School- a small nursery school located in a rural, and poor area. A man who has been working closely with Grassroots Uganda asked us to visit the school and see if we could find money in our budget to build the school a latrine, as the children were sneaking back into the fields of the neighboring farmers to do their business. A practice that was both unhygienic, and irritating to the neighbors! After visiting the school, we agreed that yes, we could help, and through donations, we were able to build a permanent, fantastic latrine for the kids. As an extra income generating activity for the ladies, we assisted the Namakuma Women's Group with starting a small poultry project. We provided the baby chicks, feeds, and money for immunizations. The ladies provided the chicken house, around the clock care, and the stove and fuel for the charcoal heater. As public transport does not reach Namakuma, we strapped the baby chicks onto motorcycles (in boxes) and drove them to the village. In an addition to Operation "Pluck Pluck" we donated African breed laying hens to needy families identified by our women. The hens are capable of feeding themselves, and the eggs provide a source of daily nutrition to the family. After surviving a brutal machete attack, our member Flavia was in a very difficult situation, both physically and financially. In the hospital we brought her food, supplies, met with her doctors, and offered moral support. We raised money to pay her medical fees, as well as give her a monthly donation to cover her living expenses for a year. She is currently enrolled in sewing classes during the weekends as she works cleaning a church during the week. She is a member of one of our women's groups, and makes jewelry independently as a member of our Artist Co-Op. Flavia had been saving her money to buy a sewing machine, so as a surprise, we bought her a sewing machine paid for by donations. We have a re-usable menstrual pad program where we make. Sell, and teach the ladies to make, use, and care for re-usable menstrual pads. Having your period in the village is an inconvenience to say the least. Most rural women cannot afford the luxury of disposable pads, so they resort to stuffing their knickers with old rags, dried grass, and even rubbish they pick from the roadside. This is inefficient and unhygienic. Young girls have an even harder problem because if they are in school all day they are constantly worried about leaking and odor. Life is hard enough as a teenage girl, and the added threat of embarrassment is enough to prompt the girls to play hooky from school during their periods. This causes them miss about five days of classes per month and as a result, their grades drop. In an effort to combat this, we are working on an initiative to promote hygienic, reusable menstrual pads for our women, and their families. We buy the pads from a local women's organization, and sell them to our ladies at the subsidized rate of half our buying price. We then have workshops where we counsel the women on how to care for the pads properly, ensuring that the practice remains hygienic and that the pad can be reused for up to two years. Next, we teach the women to make the pads themselves, either by hand-stitching, or with a sewing machine. The ladies can then produce their own pads for home use, or to sell to other people, further promoting the pads initiative. In addition, we have an initiative underway to train our ladies to use solar cookers, energy efficient charcoal stoves, and cooking bags. This will help the ladies with their cooking costs as less fuel will have to be used. It also lessens the chances of fires and burnes from cooking over an open flame, and is good for the environment as it helps prevent deforestation and lessens C02 emissions. We are contracting with Jinja Empowerment Organization to teach each of our women's groups and members of our artist co-op the importance, and benefits of using the solar and eco friendly cooking methods. We have also recently started a small demonstration farm, called Peace Demonstration Farm after the farm's late founder, Peace Nansaleko. The purpose of the farm is to teach Ugandans to expand their thinking about farming, and to teach them new and innovative farming techniques such as crop rotation, garden planning, double dug methods, raised beds, proper composting and raised compost beds, mulching, irrigating, etc. Instead of focusing on local and mass produced crops, which keep most small farmers living a subsistence hand to mouth lifestyle, Peace Farm teaches them the value of growing cash crops that can be sold to the upcoming and ever changing multi-cultural market. Peace farm recognizes that the needs of such a market base differ from the needs of the average villager, and we strive to teach our fellow countrymen the importance and value of crop variation, consistency, and quality.

Statistics on Grassroots Uganda- Empowering African Women

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