Winnie in the Mama Africa office/store room
As GlobalGiving employees, my colleague Katherine and I get to talk to a lot of organizations doing great work every day. Every once and a while we’re lucky enough to get a chance to see some of the work that those groups are doing in their communities. Today was one of those lucky days!
We arrived in Kampala yesterday, jetlagged but excited about our upcoming visits with GlobalGiving partners in Uganda. This morning we work up, refreshed after a good night’s sleep, and maneuvered through the city traffic. After 45 minutes we arrived in Kulekaana, which means ‘the shouting place,’ the slum where Mama Africa works. We were greeted enthusiastically by Winnie, the organization’s founder. She was dressed in a beautiful green traditional dress with “Mama Africa” stitched proudly across the front.
Winnie gave us a tour of the Mama Africa facilities. There are several rooms, each which serve a variety of purposes. We saw the main office, which also serves as the store room for the children’s food; the girls’ room, where younger children sleep two to a bed until more space can be purchased; and the tailoring room, which doubles as the boys’ bedroom at night. Throughout our mini-tour, Winnie’s passion and drive to help the children Mama Africa supports was clear.
Winnie shared her story with us: she grew up in the slum where she now works, part of a large family with an illiterate mother and an absent father. She was always driven to complete her education, but when her family couldn’t afford school fees she was forced to drop out. A pastor eventually helped her pay for her education, and she was able to return to school. Even while taking classes, she worked to earn money so that her siblings and other poorer children in the slum could afford to go to school. “When I got a job that earned $25 a month, I thought ‘WOW!’” Winnie said. “You can imagine the meal we had that day. It was big!”
She started informally sponsoring children in 1997, and formally incorporated as a non-profit in 2008. She now supports 63 youth with scholarships, food, medical care, and mental support. Older children receive vocational training, and we met several of the youth who have completed their education and are now employed. She runs an efficient program – spending only about $1,200 a month for all of Mama Africa’s programs. When she doesn’t receive enough through GlobalGiving and other donors, she covers the costs herself. Her next dream for Mama Africa is to buy a building, where the children have enough room to live under one roof and they can build a small school.
Winnie has made her dreams come true through education, passion, and hard work. I’m proud to be a part of a GlobalGiving network that includes donors like you who are helping to make others’ dreams come true too.
Some of the children serenaded us with a song