Our MUSHROOM GROWING project is an income generating initiative the not only trains our mothers in mushroom cultivation, but also improves their diet and quality of life. We encourage mothers work in teams from their home, since the greatest market for mushrooms is in their communities and markets.
17-year-old Jessica’s story:
“I found out I was pregnant when I was 16. In Matugga, where I come from, people see me as a failure because I am a teenage mother. My family is poor and survives from digging. When the family of the father of my child refused for us to marry, I had to keep working in the fields, which caused complication with my pregnancy. My mother told me about the opportunity to participate in UWOPED and I was so excited! UWOPED did not see me as a failure. Not only have I learned vocational skills like mushroom growing, I also know how to handle myself around others. Today, I see myself as a powerful woman.”
Our ARTS AND CRAFTS program trains our mothers with both traditional and contemporary craft-making skills. They learn how to make modern jewelry for everyday and formal wear attractive to local consumers. We also specialize in creating accessories like tote bags, purses and wearable art that appeal to an international market. Using the both international and local methods to generate income, the artists find a more sustainable way of supporting themselves.
Our TAILORING PROGRAM empower women with skills in sewing a variety of things like baby clothes, traditional wear, wedding dresses, bags, coats, skirts etc. After they have met our standards of experience we encourage them to look for contracts to make school uniforms from schools, from companies and other local consumers. Coupled with our money savings program our women are quickly in a position to buy their own tailoring machines and jump-start their business.
50-year-old Jellia’s Story:
“Before I joined UWOPED, I had a lot of stress in my life that made me weak. I did not have the courage to do things I needed to in my life. I worried about how I would feed my children and grandchildren without work. My husband abandoned us, so the responsibility is up to me whether I have the money or not. Some years into our marriage he changed. He began refusing to pay our children’s school fees. I kept the question – What am I going to do? – to myself. I told myself to be strong, that I would handle it.
Two years ago, I was introduced to UWOPED at a community meeting. One of the first things Brenda taught me was meditation. The practice had made me very happy. It felt like I had been sleeping and my mind woke up. I was unburdened. With meditation practice, I have become strong and empowered. I feel that I can do anything, handle anything – I am happy and calm inside. Meditation has taught me how to be more creative in my approach to life and its challenges.
The community of UWOPED is also a support group for me – we talk, we counsel each other. Women are not treated well in my community, where I have lived for thirty years. When a woman wants to work to better her family, the husband won’t allow it. They want us to stay at homes like slaves. For single mothers, some very young, domestic violence, drug addiction, prostitution are daily life here. For many women their bodies are their livelihoods. We need to be educated in business and reduce our stress to be self-sustainable.
UWOPED addresses this and because of them I am surviving.”
Agriculture is essential to the sustainability of Ugandans and is the backbone for economic strength in our country. Our farm sits just outside Kampala in Matugga and offers an abundance of cash crops like avocados, mangoes, cassava, jackfruit and matoke, as well as livestock. While 80% of our country is tilled by women, only 10% is owned by women – our farm can be source of community, financial independence and income for our mothers.
18-year-old Sara’s Story:
“I came one year ago to Uganda from Congo. In our village, rebels came with axes and slaughtered out neighbors. Nine of us escaped, and it took us one week to walk from Goma to Mbarara. I was so scared. We entered Kampala by foot, with nothing to eat and nowhere to sleep, but it was here that I found peace. There was no war.
I am poor, but I survive. As a refugee, I was lonely and felt each day passing with nothing to do. A neighbor told me about the sewing and tailoring program at UWOPED and I joined. With the program I was taught meditation and this has helped me very much. The memories of my past are still with me and will take time to fade, but with meditation I can see the change in my life. Compared to Congo, now there is nothing I cannot handle here.”