UWCM have been training and encouraging Womens’ Groups to set up microfinance schemes for many years and one of their newly formed groups called ‘Tunyi Glory’ have been so successful that the local district Chairman reported that there has been a reduction in Gender Based Violence in homes and in the community as a whole. Tunyi Glory has 38 members, most of whom are young mothers who are very hard working and developmental, and on a recent monitoring visit the staff of UWCM were very encouraged to see how successful they have been. Many husbands testified that life is now good because they no longer carry the responsibility of taking care of the family needs alone since their wives now make a contribution. The women are able to plan and save for their children’s school fees plus buy food and essential items without continually having to ask their husbands for money. The group are very grateful to UWCM for their training and support and have asked for further training on how to make bio gas, record management, parenting skills and marriage issues.
Another 15 x 1,000L water tanks were purchased and delivered to different families in the Bulambuli district towards the end of 2020. This brings the total number of tanks purchased since the beginning of this project to 66 and, as you can see from the comment below, each tank has been a real blessing and encouragement to members:
This is what Sam said when he received his tank: “Because of this sickness, sometimes the body is very weak to go for water from the stream and it becomes hard to keep disturbing neighbours who are a bit far and especially when it has rained heavily, and sometimes we end up sleeping without food. But now that we have got this tank we do not need to ask for help from neighbours but instead, we will be of help to them because they will also be getting water from us. The attitude the community people had towards us has changed and even the stigma is going to reduce. They now look at us as very important people in this community Thank you UWCM and thank you donors”.
As from January 2021, our funding will now go towards a ‘revolving fund’ which will allow group members to borrow money to buy a tank which they then have to repay and that money would then be available to lend to another family. Although families will have to wait longer to receive a tank it means that this project is sustainable and more people, eventually, will own one of their own. UWCM have chosen to work with a cluster of groups who already have a good record of running savings schemes and will continue to monitor progress.
Much to the delight of the children, parents and guardians, government restrictions have begun to ease slightly allowing the very popular Saturday club days to resume albeit with greatly reduced numbers. 20 children per week are now able to meet together to play, receive teaching/counselling and, of course, enjoy porridge, fruit & an egg. Some school years are also starting back and we have been able to pay the school fees and registration fees for 8 x Primary 7 candidates all of whom come from extremely vulnerable families and the parents were ‘overwhelmed with joy when they were told that the fees and registration costs were covered’.
UWCM also continue to visit and monitor individual families helping with medical fees, offering advice and encouragement, providing support with food supplies etc. The vast majority of these families are living in extreme poverty and without the support of UWCM would not have the resources to resolve their situations. We had met one such young man, Ben (see photo), during our visit in January 2020 when he was very depressed as he was suffering from a huge infection on his face plus osteomyelitis in his leg and his future looked grim. UWCM staff took him for treatment and after a long course of antibiotics plus an operation and physiotherapy, Ben is recovering well and his life has been transformed. He became a Christian in November 2020 in the church where his mother attends and his health has greatly improved. He has been busy taking care of his goat and pig and also supporting his mother with home chores. This is just one example of how our support has been able to transform someone’s life.
As it was clear that the annual residential Children’s Conference would not be able to go ahead in January 2021 due to Covid restrictions, staff at UWCM decided that they would run 4 x smaller, 2 day conferences for 25 x teenagers from 4 different communities between 13th and 30th December 2020. Each of these was followed by a 1 day training for 30 parents/guardians from each of the communities so that they could share skills of how to handle teenagers both at home, in church and in society.
Over the 2 days they covered topics such as: children’s rights and responsibilities; life skills and decision making criteria; self esteem; abstinence for teenagers plus daily Bible study, worship and prayer. On the last day, each young person received a gift of 2Kg sugar, 1 kg bar of soap and a packet of salt to take home as a Christmas gift for their families. They were very excited as they received the packing saying, “I was not expecting this. God is good. Our parents will be very happy upon receiving these items.”
As you can see from the comments below, the conferences were a huge success and UWCM would like to hold more over the coming year.
- One of the young people (Benard), during his vote of thanks appreciated the whole program and topics taught which gave him confidence to face the future while trusting God. He thanked all the facilitators for their time and skilful training to the children. Benard expressed himself in English and this made his grandfather very happy, because he was also in attendance at the closing ceremony! He said, “Now I know I have not wasted my school fees on Benard!”
- The young people were happy for the teachings and freely expressed their concerns which they asked us to share with their parents for understanding during the parenting sessions. Such concerns were:
- My mother is so harsh and cannot wait to listen to me talk. She addresses us at home by difficult and abusive language and names that sometimes make me feel like running away from home!
- Our parents never provide basic needs for us and this troubles us so much!
- One of the local leaders said, “Much as I am a leader representing my people, I had no knowledge about the rights of children so I am very grateful for the teaching on children rights and responsibilities. I request UWCM to extend this service of imparting knowledge to all leaders in my area”, she asked.
- One parent who is a church leader asked UWCM to consider giving more sessions to the youth in his church if possible. He was grateful to be a host for the children and parents’ conference.
- “This is my first time to attend a conference. I did not know that even at my age I could attend any training!” (A female participant).
Due to rising prices and food scarcity many families in the Mbale area are, literally, running out of food and although UWCM are doing their best to support families by distributing emergency food and household parcels, the numbers are growing. Continue reading “Covid19 Update”
Now that some lockdown restrictions have been lifted, UWCM have managed to buy and deliver more water tanks and sewing machines to communities which have been very gratefully received. Continue reading “Some community work starting up again”
We have just received this latest report from UWCM on the COVID 19 situation in Uganda:
President Museveni provided a new timeline as the country continues to lift the lock down. He said that, “Apart from social distancing and other measures, the biggest safety measure is putting on the right masks. Therefore, the directive of the easing of the lockdown is to have compulsory wearing of masks for all adults and children above 6 years”.
Continue reading “Coronavirus Update”
As in so many countries around the world, the Ugandan government has closed all schools, banned all mass gatherings, public transport (including bicycle boda-bodas) and non-essential travel and there is a strict curfew in place. These restrictions have just been extended to 5th May. As a result, all UWCM community activities have been suspended and staff are working from home where possible.
We are keeping in close email contact with the staff at UWCM and last week they reported that the government have begun distributing food and essential items eg maize flour, beans, sugar, soap, cooking oil etc to people living in Kampala and the surrounding suburbs who are on low incomes or with no salaries, and that it will eventually spread to the whole country. However, UWCM anticipate that this will take a long time and that not all vulnerable people outside of these areas will have access to this package – particularly those in the communities in and around Mbale where they work. UWCM are trusting that local groups eg churches, NGOs and volunteers will also play their part in helping support those in greatest need and staff will resume their work in the communities as soon as the restrictions are lifted.
We are continuing to support UWCM staff with their salaries and are in regular email contact and will respond to any emergency requests as appropriate. Thankfully, so far at the time of writing, there are very few confirmed cases of Coronavirus in the country and no deaths.
Tree Planting Ceremony In memory of Mr Denis Butt O.B.E. & Mrs Dorothea Butt
Denis & Dorothea Butt spent many happy years of their early married life in Uganda where their three children, Adrian, Helen & Martyn, were born. Denis worked as a Researcher in Crop Disease at the Kwanda Research Station and his specialist interest in coffee took him to the Mount Elgon area. They returned to England in 1966 but never lost their love of Africa.
Dorothea was a professional singer and after her death in August 2002, Denis arranged musical concerts in her memory to raise money for disadvantaged children in Uganda. Denis was always passionate about children’s education and so the donations sent to Uganda Women Concern Ministry were used to provide academic or skills-based training to many AIDS orphans who would otherwise have had no hope of an education and a tough future.
Over the years, Denis continued to support UWCM through Uganda Concern UK but sadly, he died on 26th January 2019 (his 85th birthday). However, Denis had not forgotten his links with Uganda and the family informed us that he had left a generous gift in his will to UCUK. In keeping with Denis’s belief in the importance of education, his legacy is currently being used to fund the senior school fees of several orphaned teenagers who have no other family support.
Denis & Dorothea’s daughter, Helen, discussed the possibility of something in memory of her parents and during our visit to Uganda in January 2020, close to the first anniversary of Denis’s death, two Jacaranda saplings were planted in the grounds of UWCM’s offices. Helen had donated a beautiful plaque which was placed alongside the trees after a special time of prayer & reflection. Mabel, one of Denis’s beneficiaries from the early 2000’s, was able to attend and plant one of the trees. She testified to the great impact the Butt’s donations had made to her life and how it enabled her to go to university and qualify as an engineer!