One program, essential for the success and empowerment of women in our program is literacy. This is hands down the best way to create the potential for self determination and increased quality of life. Our clients report they are now able to communicate with customers, banking and community officials, help their children with homework and feel a sense of accomplishments and pride.
Over the past three years, we have served over 275 women. Providing the chance to learn to read and write, tell time, communicate, addressing inequity and allowing women to live up to their potential. Our focus on literacy and leadership has created the opportunity for women to engage in their community, becoming advocates and political candidates. This political season five WGEF clients are running for office, local and regional district offices. This is an outstanding example of empowered women challenging the entrenched patriarchy responsible for gender inequality and marginalization of women thru political means, creating the systemic changes that will move her community forward in peace and dignity.
"When you teach a woman to read and write, her whole world opens up." Karen Sugar, WGEF Founder
We have 100 women ready to participate in our program this year beginning in February 2011. We hope you are inspired and will help us continue this life changing opportunity for women in post conflict northern Uganda.
Having just arrived home from Gulu, I wanted to take this opportunity to update you on what is happening in northern Uganda. But first I want to share a story with you. Grace has been in our program for a little over a year. I took a walk with Grace, because she has been doing so well in the program we wanted to highlight her in a news story. Grace shared with me that she had been abducted and was in the bush for over 8 years where she was repeatedly raped. She has three children. When she escaped two years ago, she returned only to be abandoned by her family and ostracized by her tribe. This is not uncommon for women who have been sexually assaulted, they not only carry the physical and emotional scars of their experience, but are then shunned and turned away from their family. Grace was invited to join an existing group, which provided her the necessary support and safety. Today, she is on her 4th loan cycle, her business as a fruit and produce vendor provides her the opportunity to send her children to school, experience increased economic activity, and food security. I found Grace to be a strong advocate for our program and a very courageous woman. I looked at photos of Grace when she first joined the program, and her photos exposed a sad, scared woman. Our Program Director told me that she had trouble looking you in the eye. To speak with Grace today, you come away inspired and in awe of how well she is doing. Watching her answering the journalist question with a quiet dignity and confidence, reminded me once again of why we are doing this and how critical this program is to the women in northern Uganda. The following are highlights of what I found: * After touring several agro projects, I was impressed by several things: one, the cooperative way that the women work the land together; two, the size and scope of the projects; three, several of our clients also received cows from Heifer International, and have created a diverse business opportunities for themselves, and four the sophisticated knowledge of best practices regarding the land, seeds, soil and crop diversity. * Margaret created a preschool with her loan two years ago; she now has 140 students and has hired 5 teachers. This is a testimony to the spirals of economic empowerment our Credit Plus program are creating. * Many local political and tribal leaders attended the Kiko Po Mon, Creating a Voice for Women, event on Saturday October 2nd. Several of them gave speeches, praising the program and suggesting that the impacts are far and above more positive for the community than other big, entrenched NGO's. One woman leader gave each participating group a cash prize for their effort. This was a very important for the community, our clients, WGEF and staff.
Thank you for your support of women and families, we hope you will continue to support sustainable development and economic justice!
WGEF's literacy program 2010 will be completed on October 10th. We have served over 95 women, and their children this year, with classes being held twice a week for 8 months. Participants attend class twice weekly, two hours on Tuesday and all day on Saturday. Saturday's class includes lunch, tea and child care for one child. Often this is the only programming a child might receive; children read books, colour, and play in a supervised atmosphere. It is a very challenging commitment for our clients, which have to make arrangements for her business, family and children obligations, water collection, etc.
To celebrate and highlight their accomplishments, the class of 2010 is holding a debate, Educating Women, in Gulu on October 3. I will be attending and will post a report and photos upon my return. This is an impressive undertaking, especially considering just three short years ago, many of our clients were living in the IDP camps, unsure of their future and fearing for their security.
Our literacy program is a critical component in our organization, understanding that when you give women the opportunity to learn to read and write her whole world can open up and opportunities are created. We are looking ahead to January, 2011, our hope is to expand our program to include 150 women next year. Understanding that this is only possible with proper funding we hope you will want to support this important program! Thank you for your commitment to women, social justice and sustainable development!
Our literacy program resumed in February, with 57 women in the initial offering and additional women women joining weekly. The program includes two classes per week, child care for one child, materials and our amazing instructors are leading the instruction. The participants are also provided with lunch, tea, and refreshments; the children are given the opportunity to read books, colour, and play in a safe, structured environment, with many of the children encouraging their moms to attend because it is the only programming they receive.
Our goal is to serve 100 women this year, and we are well on our way! The WGEF literacy program is the most important opportunity we offer, many of our clients missed the chance to attend school and learning to read and write helps them with their businesses, helping their children with school work, and self esteem. The woman featured above is 61 years old, she did not know how to write her name, or read basic words. Our literacy program enabled her to achieve a basic level of literacy, and as important, the pride and sense of empowerment by having this knowledge.
Being literate and having access to education is not a privilege but a human right. Your contribution and support ensures that we are able to continue to provide this critical programming.
Thank you for your support!
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Founder and Director