LifeStitches Uganda, Inc. Has A New NGO Home!
LifeStitches Uganda, Inc. is pleased to announce that as of March 2011 we will become a freestanding not for profit 501c(3) organization. We extend our gratitude to Global Health Partnerships, our former parent organization, for their close collaboration since 2007. LifeStitches Uganda, Inc. will have a new board and will continue its mission to foster social enterprises for HIV/AIDS women living in sub-Sahara Africa. In particular, we will continue our support for the development of the Aura, Uganda LifeStitches Sewing Workshop. Donations should be forwarded to our new NGO Account LifeStitches Uganda, Inc., as soon as due diligence is complete. Donations made to Global Health Partnerships aka LifeStitches Project (501 (c)(3) will be donated to the new LifeStitches Uganda 501(c)(3) NGO and continued to be used for the same Uganda project.
The US project team is about to leave to spend two weeks at the Arua Uganda LifeStitches project site. The great news is that we will be there for the new sewing Workshop building dedication March 5, 2011.
Many , many thanks to all our donors that made this important milestone happen. The new Workshop which is located on the Arua Regional hospital grounds will triple access to sewing machines and teaching for new HIV positive PMTCT mothers joining the group. Our membership is up since September from 35 to 50 members!.
Besides the building dedication, the US team, will be spending our time setting up sewing training classes, and organizing the workshop production by building capacity amongst workshop leaders. We will also be returning with some interviews with workshop members, talking to us about how being involved in the Lifestitches Workshop changed their lives and decreased AIDS Stigma. There will also be fresh photos of the building dedication.
The US volunteer team travels and pays for their own expenses and donate all time spent on the project.
Thanks to your donations the LifeStitches sewing workshop is nearing completion. Storage cabinets, cutting tables, ironing stands and new pedal sewing machines have been ordered. Move in is anticipated in late November. Global Health Partnership (GHP) President, and the GHP LifeStitches Project Coordinator will travel to Uganda in February 2011 for the building dedication. As always, GHP members volunteer their time and pay out of pocket for their own travel expenses to the project.
GHP Life Stitches project director visited the project site in Uganda this September 2010. The workshop members expressed a big thank you to all the Global Giving donors who have helped make their workshop and the new building space a reality. During this visit, meetings were held with the Aura Regional Hospital administrators to discuss increased partnership of LifeStitches with the Ministry of Health HIV/AIDS Maternal and Child health program to reach more pregnant HIV/AIDS mothers who could benefit from workshop training and economic empowerment opportunities.
Now that we have adequate workshop space, 2011 will be focused on development and capacity building of the workshop and increase membership beyond our current 40 active members. We plan to implement: (1) a sewing skills training course for new members using our senior members as the teacher/trainers; (2) an entrepreneur program to help senior members save and start up their own sewing businesses independent of the workshop; (3) leadership training for senior members in teaching and administration (4) basic literacy classes for unschooled members (5) increased peer support group HIV/AIDS outreach and education in the community.
Product development and production will be at the forefront of our efforts in 2011. We will be looking to increase training and income generating opportunities for as many new HIV/AIDS pregnant women and mothers who wish to join the workshop. Two examples of product expansion include two new pilot projects already underway - one is making quilt blankets, the other is weaving rag rugs. Both models are intended to recycle the end cut fabric from the napkins.
Here in the US, preparation for the fall 2010 private home napkin sales parties is underway. Thanks to our wonderful volunteer party hostesses sales will be held in five states this fall: Arizona, Colorado, Maryland , Montana and New Mexico. We anticipate selling out of these wonderful napkin products and some new clothing items added to the product line by the close of the 2010 holiday season.
Where does the money from the product sales go? 15% goes to our marketing costs here in the US; 22% goes directly to the mothers for their salary, fabric costs and maintenance of their workshop building; the remainder goes back into the project for workshop development and capacity building, members collective savings goals , and HIV/AIDS outreach education programs sponsored by the LifeStitches workshop members.
Please join us in this vital development and capacity building phase with your Global Giving donations to LifeStitches .
The LifeStitches project, www.lifestitches.org, began in 2008 in collaboration with the Ministry of Health Regional Hospital Prevention Mother To Child Transmission (PMTCT) program in Arua, Uganda. This is an economic empowerment project for HIV positive pregnant women and mothers with the goal being twofold. The first goal is to teach sewing skills and enable the women to earn income for themselves. The second goal is to enable these mothers to combat the AIDS- related stigma which they face on a daily basis in their communities and which is a major barrier to enrollment in the PMTCT medical programs ...an HIV positive pregnant women's only chance to prevent the spread of their HIV infection to their unborn infant.
A small sewing workshop adjacent to the Maternal and Child Health PMTCT program building on the Regional Hospital grounds is being built with donor funds and the mother’s own contribution from their sewing profits. This construction has taken place on land donated by the hospital in stages as funding became available and will finally reach completion in September 2010. The workshop members have worked in the interim out of borrowed space in the hospital laundry pending the completion of their building. Electric and pedal sewing machines, electric and charcoal irons are the mainstay equipment. Two tailors in the hospital laundry have collaborated their efforts to train and assist the mothers.
A train- the- trainer program was conducted in fall 2008 by the project director and the production of high quality cotton table products was accomplished in the following two months by the approximately twenty PMTCT mothers(now fifty mothers are skilled). The product market includes sales to a high end African Crafts store, Banana Boat in Kampala the Uganda capital and to private “napkin party “ markets in the US. Orders to Banana Boat are difficult to keep filled , napkins have ‘sold out’ the past two years in the US. More adept and skilled mothers mentor and teach the less skilled mothers. Mothers are hard working, eager, quick to learn the skills and have mastered their own systems of management and reimbursement.
This past year, mothers have begun classes by a local micro finance institution trained instructor in entrepreneurship. In September 2010, the project will be ready to move into the completed workshop/sewing school space, operate full capacity, and expand domestic and US markets. Perhaps most exciting, it is ready to open a “back door “ to the workshop with micro loans to mothers ready now to start their own sewing business in their respective villages. Enrolment began at 20 mothers it is now about 50 mothers with working training space being the rate limiting factor.
Future planned activities for the project in 2010-2011 (which will be supported by US volunteers who wish to co direct these ventures with the workshop mothers) include : (1) Establish an entrepreneur training and support program, the "back door" for women ready to start their own business. This will entail giving the mothers their own pedal sewing machine and purchasing their napkins back for resale.... the mothers will repay the loan with their napkin profits and with in kind teaching time to new members of the workshop; (2) Expand the workshop production capacity with local Ugandan contracts... school uniforms, hospital scrubs, factory workers uniforms, etc;
(3) Open a boutique knitting shop with products destined to the western markets (4) Develop a high end quilt workshop using the scraps from the napkin fabric cuts, a collaboration with US quilters.
LifeStitches project owes is growing development and sucess to two factors: the wonderful energetic, intelligent hard working PMTCT mothers in Uganda and to our many donors and volunteers who believe in the importance and potential of this empowerment project.
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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
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