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Field Notes: Giving Hope

Field Notes: Giving Hope

“I believe if you change one woman’s life, it will have a ripple effect more powerful than anything you can imagine. African Women Rising is working to make a difference within the communities of Uganda one woman at a time.”

– Oprah Winfrey

Bura Village, Pagik Parish, Gulu District, Uganda;
During my last visit to Uganda I had the opportunity to engage in a conversation with a group of young girls, ages 9 through 14.  All bright, sweet girls, a little shy at first but after a few minutes of talking they were all eager to share their experiences.  The girls, and their counterparts all over Northern Uganda, are often locked into a vicious cycle of poverty.  The girls I talked with dream of becoming nurses, teachers, police women and doctors, but they are unfortunately the first ones to be held back from school when fees are lacking or there is work to be done at home.

The reality for most of them is early marriage and childbirth, few girls make it beyond 4th or 5th grade.  They will give birth to girls who, just like their mothers, are born into an environment where girls education is less valued.

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Through our work with African Women Rising we are seeking to give these young girls hope, to give their mothers the financial strength to send all their children to school, to show that there are options available for girls just like boys.  We want to strengthen finances and increase production, but also change attitudes through education and provide role models by hiring women.  These are not changes that come overnight, it is a long, slow process that requires time and patience.  It is easy to feel overwhelmed but we take it step by step.  There are always setbacks but the support African Women Rising has in the communities where we work is a great start, and I am confident we will reach our goals.

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The perma-garden program we started late last year has taken off to a good start.  We have learnt a lot the last 6 months and are adding more support to the groups to ensure that the technical aspect of the gardens is clearly understood by the women.  Some of the gardens failed but there are many that are producing through the dry season, providing much-needed food that the owners are eating and selling.

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Lily is one of our participants and she has just started her second perma-garden.  She now grows enough to feed her family through lean periods, is giving away food to neighbors, and even selling some at the market.

30 new groups, about 750 women, have recently received their micro-finance grants.  The grants provide women with access to funds to manage and increase the micro-finance in their groups.  We have received a lot of good feedback from community members and leaders about the critical need to continue and to expand the micro-finance as it is providing thousands of women with much-needed access to credit.
Pilisana, is one of the women who have accessed credit.  She takes care of seven orphans, and through the micro-finance she has been able to expand her business, selling basic food stuff from a small store.  The income enables all the children to go to school.

We are grateful for your continued support and wish you all a wonderful spring.

Sincerely,

Linda and the African Women Rising team.

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