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.
Our program is critical to the women of northern Uganda and the overall recovery of the region. Please continue to support social and economic justice for women and families in post conflict northern Uganda!