Mpambara Cox Foundation

MISSION: MCF's mission is based on the belief that education and global understanding are the keys to solving poverty and to improving our shared world. Our multi-level approach involves creating community based partnership between the U.S. and Africa for global education and sustainable development. VISION: We are driven to increase awareness of the social and economic diversity of our shared world by engaging and aligning people through partnerships that promote intercultural understanding and lead to sustainable development. HOW WE WORK: We provide an authentic view of the world through linking and learning with progress as the goal. Through the design and implementation of partnershi...
May 11, 2015

How about a mother's day gift for a Ugandan mother?

Olive in her business started with a microloan
Olive in her business started with a microloan

Hello!

Gifting mothers is always tough. You aim to please. Is there a more pleasing gift to receive than one that speaks of inspiration, of kindness and of understanding? Giving a mother's day gift that lifts a mother out of poverty has to be inspirational; it speaks of your own heart. It beats those temporary gestures of kindness - roses, scented lotions, even that meal because it gives a fellow mother the opportunity to alter the course of her life in a society that still largely marginalizes and relegates women to second place socially, culturally and economically. We are asking you to donate to honor your mother or maybe her memory. But please do so after you read about our work below and the strides we have made. 

THE PROBLEM: It was the Chinese leader, Mao Zedong who said, “Women hold up half the sky.” Today over 900 women supported by microloans from MCF are holding up their part of the sky with pride. After reading the book “Half the Sky,” by Nick Kristoff and his wife Sheryl WuDunn one realizes that in this 21st century, millions and millions of women only exist: they don't live. They don’t bother or even dare to look up to the sky, much less raise their arms and feel like they are “holding up” something as important as the sky that we all live under. In the U.S., 'the field' is not level, but legislation and hardwork have ensured that women can 'get on and play' but in Uganda and most of Africa, most women don't have access to 'the field'. How do we change that? Through empowerment! Economic empowerment that gives women a real opportunity and guidance to show that they have what it takes. MCF staff and mentors have looked at impoverished women in our microloan program squarely in the eye and told them that there is hope and that they can do it. And something amazing has happened. Over 900 women have been empowered! They seized the opportunity and like Olive below, have made it out of poverty they are on the 'field and playing'.  

Olive, our microfinance beneficiary, was one of those millions of women who only exist. Illiterate, poor and married with five children, the whole feeling of holding up the sky was not in her frame of reference before May 2010.  She and her husband had struggled to pay for the increasing cost of living. School fees were rising, and as they continued to have more children their daily expenses were steadily increasing. They worried whether or not they would be able to send all of their children to school or pay for medicine. Her children were attending Kengoma Primary School in Kabale, Uganda—a Mpambara Cox Foundation (MCF) supported school—when she heard about the call for women to come and listen to a proposed microfinance program at her children’s school. That program–Women In Support of Education (WISE)–was designed by MCF  to help mothers like Olive keep their children in school.  She was among the first women to show up at the school in early May 2010 and immediately knew she wanted to join a group.

THE SOLUTION: At about the same time in Rockville, MD, 20 women were getting together over dinner to learn about micro-finance and to support the first WISE group.  After a briefing by MCF president, Anita, and WMI (Women’s Microfinance Initiative) president, Robyn, each of the invited guests donated $150 for each of the 20 Kengoma women.  This kick-started the MCF/WMI partnership to empower rural women in Uganda.  Now, almost six years later, that $150 has grown into a dream capital fund that is self-sustaining, banking over $50,000 per year. The fund is dedicated to the advancement of Elsie Lushaya Women’s Group (ELWG) – a group of impoverished mothers exclusively drawn from Mpambara Cox Foundation’s supported UPE (Universal Primary Education) schools in Kabale, Uganda.

WISE COLOURS GROUP PictureThe first WISE groups back in 2010 Photo: MCF

THE PROCESS: Olive survived the ‘peer-weeding’ process (a ruthless removal of those considered untrustworthy), underwent financial literacy training, passed the tests, attended  planning meetings and formally joined a group of 20 WISE women in June 2010.  The next month she received her first loan, 300,000 Uganda Shillings or $150 (at 2010 exchange rates). She made the all important “WISE Pledge”. The condition that her children were to remain in school and their attendance would matter—something she admits she never really fully understood at first. The loan would enable her to start her own business, she knew that this was her chance to help ensure her children would all receive an education. Olive then rented a small space in her neighborhood and began selling soda and beer to those living in her village. She began receiving shipments from beverage companies and selling the drinks both retail and wholesale to her loyal customers. For two years Olive continued growing her business with the loans from MCF, dutifully paying them back as scheduled.

Olive in her Nyakijumba shopOlive in her Nyakijumba shop Photo: JBlatter

On March 6, 2013, she qualified to became a WISER Woman—a program that introduces responsible borrowers to main-stream banking with surety provided by MCF/WMI.  Olive underwent additional training and was able to borrow $600 or 1m Uganda shillings directly from the bank, effectively making her a millionaire in Ugandan currency. Now, Olive’s beverage store is filled from floor to ceiling with beverage crates.  One expects that she would say she sells a crate every couple of days. “No,” she says with a pride-filled smile, “I sell a crate in a couple of hours.” How amazing! 

MCF’s WISE has been so successful and exponentially grown. With your help we now add 40 women per quarter to the Elsie Lushaya Women’s Group (ELWG) that Olive joined back in May 2010. She is hailed as a success story in her village and is now a counselor to many other women that have since joined ELWG.  As one of almost 900 women in 10 villages spread-out all over the hilly landscape, Olive remains illiterate but is no longer impoverished or marginalized. Each year she celebrates alongside her peers as they march through Kabale town in what is now a parade that aims to showcase these tough and hardworking women as beacons of success - empowerment! 

MCF Women's Empowerment march through Kabale town Photo: MCF

WHERE YOU COME IN:  Your donations help us expand the program to more women. While children are the center of our work, we cannot help the next generation escape poverty without the direct involvement and support of the parents. Olive is now committed to helping them get the best that she can offer thanks to counseling sessions from WISE. That is a true measure of success for a woman who just five years ago thought she would have to choose which of her children would remain in school and which ones would drop-out. “We continue to work hard to keep the family, happy, healthy, and educated,” says Olive. Looking at Olive squarely in the eyes, one sees a new found belief in self. Her dignity is secure. Her debts are paid. Her floor is cemented and her sales are soaring! Another important point that cannot be overlooked, her husband is a 'openly' supportive partner helping where he can to run the business.

Will you help us empower more women today? Your donation today, however big or small, will make a difference for other mothers like Olive for whom the opportunity of getting on 'the field' is still only a dream. 

Thank you and Happy Mother's Day! 

Olive and family with MCF Peace Corps Volunteer
Olive and family with MCF Peace Corps Volunteer
WISE women march through Kabale town
WISE women march through Kabale town

Links:

Feb 10, 2015

Our 2014 Accomplishments in Pictures

MLK Day 2014 - A Skype Session in Progress
MLK Day 2014 - A Skype Session in Progress

Dear Donors, Supporters and Friends, 

The first month of the year has gone by quite quickly, hasn't it? Before we get firmly into February, we wanted to share our 2014 accomplishments with you.

MCF is turning 7 years old in 2015! We have come a long way since that day in May 2008 when we started programming in Kabale, Uganda. Lessons have been learned, successes celebrated and even a retooling of the way we do things. The greatest lessons of 2014 was understanding what it means to persevere and stand firmly with those we are dedicated to helping.

We didn't get this far without your help and so we owe you our gratitude and we pass along the gratitude of those in the Kiga community that benefit from our poverty alleviation work. This year, we bring you our inaugural "Annual Accomplishments in Pictures" report. Look for a more detailed annual report to be completed and e-mailed soon. 

Thanks again for your support and we hope you join us in 2015 to continue making a difference through programs that deliver immediate impact thanks to our intimate knowledge of the communities where we work and our unique program design with stake-holder input. As a Diaspora-led organization with new partnerships and a reconstituted working team, we are positioned to bring greater change in 2015. But we need your support. 

Wishing you all the best in 2015. 

OUR 2014 ACCOMPLISHMENTS 

Jan - Penpals get busy writing letters on MLK Day
Jan - Penpals get busy writing letters on MLK Day
In Uganda - Penpals receive their letters
In Uganda - Penpals receive their letters
Jan 2014 - Global Fellows on their annual trip
Jan 2014 - Global Fellows on their annual trip
Feb - A new school year starts with porridge
Feb - A new school year starts with porridge
Mar - DEAR Day 2014 was all about reading
Mar - DEAR Day 2014 was all about reading
Apr - New library programs bring new patrons
Apr - New library programs bring new patrons
May - Peace Corps volunteer joins MCF Kabale Team
May - Peace Corps volunteer joins MCF Kabale Team
June - WISE micro-finance grows to over 850 women!
June - WISE micro-finance grows to over 850 women!
July - Team MCF hosts US visitors in Kabale
July - Team MCF hosts US visitors in Kabale
Also in July - Chinese students fund-raise for MCF
Also in July - Chinese students fund-raise for MCF
The Shanghai ladies visit US, meet MCF president
The Shanghai ladies visit US, meet MCF president
August - More WISE groups form for micro-loans
August - More WISE groups form for micro-loans
Sep - Yoganda (Yoga-Uganda), partners with MCF
Sep - Yoganda (Yoga-Uganda), partners with MCF
Oct - MCF invited to Peace Corps 50th anniversary
Oct - MCF invited to Peace Corps 50th anniversary
Nov - Our first fellows take national exams!
Nov - Our first fellows take national exams!
Dec - a 9-year-old dreams of desks for these kids
Dec - a 9-year-old dreams of desks for these kids
Dec - She fundraises and MCF delivers her dream
Dec - She fundraises and MCF delivers her dream

Links:

Dec 2, 2014

A Reason to Give This Tuesday? Read Edison's Story

Edison (left) and Joram (right)
Edison (left) and Joram (right)

Edison (on the left) is one of two students for whom MCF made primary and secondary school possible. For four years, he and Joram (on the right) have been the pioneer secondary school beneficiaries and they just recently completed their secondary school exams! They are now headed to 'higher' or the last two years of high school. I have known and mentored both of these brilliant boys since they joined our program.

This story is about Edison; it serves to illustrate the depth of MCF’s reach as a community program committed to bringing change at  many different levels through unique programs that are solving the poverty problem. 

Edison was a primary six student in one of the first MCF partner schools in 2009. Orphaned an at early age, Edison moved to the village of Nyakijumba to live with his aunt and attended a  government school set on the side of a road. If you or I approached the school, a first impression would be just how dangerously it is nestled close to a thoroughfare that runs from Mbarara to Kabale town with cars, buses, trailers, and cyclists all zooming past the tiny school.

Edison, as one of the beneficiaries when the program started in 2009 with the commencement of a porridge program, was part of a 192 student body.  There was no running water in the school. The cooking program relied on ‘water fetchers’ to provide all the water from a stream about 1.5 miles away to cook the porridge and wash all the utensils. The water fetchers proved unreliable, sometimes not showing up when it rained for instance. On one such day, Edison’s aunt, Esther, who had been hired as a cook asked Edison to go and fetch water before school hours. He rose at about 5 am that morning and went off to fetch the water. By the time the school bell rang, he had fetched enough water for the entire cooking day and was in his uniform ready for school!

His aunt suggested the MCF pay him a stipend to provide the water. The stipend of $10 per month would help him buy books , shoes, pencils and a mathematical set. For the next two years Edison did all the water fetching for the program at his school. Edison worked, fetching water, and never missed a day, rain or shine. If necessary, he made arrangements for someone else to help him or fill in.

In 2010, Edison sat for his PLE exams and passed well thanks to his own hardwork and our help in providing him the support he needed. MCF, impressed with how studious he was, how committed he was to the program, and just how hard he had worked during the school year to pass the exams, offered him the first secondary school scholarship: the Global Fellows Program, which consists of a leadership training program. In this program, MCF works to ‘expand horizons’ and mentor fellows to help them break from their limited tribal borders and learn to appreciate the diverse country that Uganda is.

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Jan 2014 Expanding Horizons Trip for scholarship students to visit Kilembe Mines in Kasese (Edison is the tallest one) 

With “Expanding Horizons,” Edison has traveled to over 10 Ugandan towns since 2011, learning about 5 different tribes of peoples who differ from his own. He has visited industry centers, mines, Uganda’s parliament, historic sites, the premier University of Uganda, and will this year travel internationally for the first time.

Edson scholarhip student cropped.IMG_1782Edison at secondary school                

Today, Edison has completed his “O” level exams. Compare “O” level to Grade 10 at the end of middle school. We know his resolve and we expect him to do well. MCF will then embark upon the journey to ensure that he completes his secondary school and enter a university to obtain a college degree. Edison aspires to become an engineer.

This Giving Tuesday will you help Edison and many others like him realize their dreams? It is because of you that children like Edison have made it this far. Help us get them further. We need your support. 

Thank you! 

 

Handing out back to school supplies
Handing out back to school supplies

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