In October of 2011 I took a cash donation to Uganda from a group of my friends. We weren’t sure just where it would go to, but decided that we would follow God’s leading ‘on the ground’. We discussed this money with the staff and a former staff member (now board member, successful businessman, and town councilman) of Village2Village. Everyone decided to hand pick four women from the group of guardians who were struggling financially, but had great potential to do small “business” ventures. They meet monthly with the staff to see how things are going and discuss together their ideas and challenges, and most months, Michael (the local businessman) comes as well to give encouragement and advice. At the guardian meeting today (once a month) the women in what they call “Women’s Empowerment” gathered together to discuss how things are going along with staff and Michael. Laurie and I were interested to hear their stories first hand.
(As a side note, those guardians who are a part of HOPE Ministry (those that have HIV/AIDS or another serious illness) have started (after the success of the Women’s Empowerment Project) a savings / borrowing group … and some of the people who are part of that group were there too. It’s been very successful.)
One woman in the Women’s Empowerment group was reluctant to try “business” (which can mean planting a crop to sell), but was encouraged by the group and has done VERY well. These are small ventures, but have given the women some working capitol to invest in. For example, one woman planted a field of ground nuts (aka: peanuts). She harvested a great crop, and is holding some until the prices go up to sell, the rest she is saving to plant again once the rainy season begins. Another woman sells a multitude of things in the trading center, from charcoal that she buys in large bags then breaks down into more affordable ‘piles’ and makes a profit, plus she makes a variety of things that she sells (different food items), in addition to growing and selling tomatoes. The money was given to the women in small parts, rather than all at once, to be sure they handled it cautiously and carefully.
This small but powerful work has been very positive for these women, and the original money is still in action. A Blessing.