Our mission at UWOPED is to empower women with practical skills through training to develop talents and reduce the number of vulnerable and unemployed women in Uganda and Africa at large. To fulfill this mission, we offer various important programs in the areas of health and education to benefit young mothers and their children.
In addition to our practical training programs for skill development we are committed to helping women develop their full potential from deep within themselves. For this, we partner with African Women and Girls Organization for Total Knowledge (AWAGO) to offer training in the evidence-based Transcendental Meditation (TM) program—to help vulnerable women reduce stress, improve health and vitality, develop creativity, confidence and motivation, resiliency and self-esteem—so that they become empowered in their ability to engage in all of our training programs with utmost success, and become empowered in their ability to care for themselves and their families.
SKILL TRAINING FOR POVERTY ERADICATION
Tailoring—Our TAILORING training teaches mothers to make several different things, such as casual wear, office wear, as well as traditional clothing. They also learn how to make school uniforms, bags, wallets, etc. In this way we are trying to help a vulnerable mother be in position to take care of herself, her children and all her dependents. We make sure that by the end of the training, a mother can acquire a sewing machine and create an employment opportunity for her self.
Hairdressing—In Uganda, most urban women plait their hair, so targeting those women, our HAIRDRESSING training teaches mothers how to plait and set different hair styles, such as twist, dreadlocks, corn rows, etc. After training UWOPED helps them set up simple salons, and we also try to offer start up kits to help them get their businesses going.
Computer training—Most of our mother’s are illiterate, so we find that it is very valuable to provide COMPUTER training to teach them essential computer skills in order to help them be part of the modern world. We pick out the most important packages, and we encourage them to use computers in their businesses and in day-to-day life.
Arts and Crafts—Our ARTS AND CRAFTS training provides mothers with both traditional and contemporary craft-making skills. They learn how to make modern jewelry for every day and formal wear that is attractive to local consumers. We also specialize in creating accessories like tote bags, purses and wearable art that appeals to an international market. With both the international and local markets to generate income, our artisans have the most sustainable way of supporting themselves.
Catering—In our CATERING training mothers are mostly taught how to make cakes, doughnuts, and different specialty foods and sweets like those sold in restaurants. With these skills, they can create small groups to be hired to cater for weddings, graduations, birthdays, etc. Working hand in hand with UWOPED, we also help them form simple nice restaurants with good food, which can still be a source of income for them.
Soap making—Our SOAP MAKING training teaches women how to make liquid soap to use in their homes, as well as sell to their communities, schools and hotels.
Mushroom growing—Our MUSHROOM GROWING project is an income generating initiative that 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 local markets.
EMPOWERMENT TRAINING THROUGH THE TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION TECHNIQUE—Empowerment from Within
UWOPED is honored to be partnering with African Women and Girls Organization for Total Knowledge (AWAGO) since 2012. AWAGO provides successful trainings for our mothers in the evidence-based Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique for stress reduction and inner development to promote health and well-being, allowing women to develop their full potential—empowerment from within.
Before we introduced the TM training into our organization, our biggest challenge was to find ways to inspire and engage mothers in activities to better themselves, and often they would not continue because they were depressed, or unable to think clearly, plan, and manage their lives. With TM, mothers started enjoying the benefits—feeling less angry, less anxious and fearful, and with less stress, they had fewer headaches and better sleep. They began experiencing greater emotional stability, clearer thinking, happiness and well-being, and they are now more motivated and engaged in taking care of themselves and their children. They report that their families are more harmonious and that they have less conflict with their neighbors. This has brought more and more women to UWOPED to take part in all of our training programs, including the TM training.
There are now over 600 mothers and 200 children who have benefited from the TM training.
What is Transcendental Meditation?
The TM technique is a simple, effortless technique practiced 15-20 minutes twice daily while sitting comfortably with eyes closed. It is easy to learn, and easy to practice by people of all ages.
TM is taught in the same way throughout the world, with a personalized program of instruction by certified teachers. It has a wide range of scientifically validated benefits for mind, body, and behavior. It is not a religion and does not require any belief or change in lifestyle. In fact, people from all walks of life, religious backgrounds and professions, enjoy the many benefits of the TM program. It is so simple that even children can do it.
TM Gives Inner Peace
During the practice, the mind effortlessly settles down to quieter levels of thought—experiencing the full range of the mind from its most active to its most silent levels. Like a wave on the ocean settling down to its silent depths, the mind gains a state of deep inner peace, and when the mind settles in this way, the body also gains very deep rest to rejuvenate the body and eliminate stress. The body gets a very deep rest while the mind remains restfully alert. This deep inner silence of mind and body nourishes all aspects of practical life—mental, physical, emotional, and social.
Scientific Research Shows the Benefits of the TM Practice
The TM program has been used successfully in different settings around the world, including schools, health care institutions, businesses, women’s empowerment groups, in the military, and in prisons. Over 360 peer-reviewed research studies on TM show a wide range of benefits, including:
Please visit the AWAGO website for an overview of research on TM:
Published Research on the Benefits of TM Training for our Mothers
In 2013 UWOPED and AWAGO collaborated with Dr. Leslee Goldstein, USA to evaluate the benefits of the TM training. This controlled investigation with pretests and posttests three months later, measured self-efficacy (one’s perceived ability to deal with challenges in life, and a critical aspect of empowerment), perceived stress, and quality of life in terms of mental clarity and physical energy and vitality. The significant results of this research study matched with what mothers were reporting to UWOPED leaders and staff, showing that TM increased self-efficacy, reduced perceived stress, enhanced mental clarity, and increased physical energy and vitality. Women gained a greater ability to cope, take initiative, and persevere in dealing with challenges in their lives. We have even found TM training to be a very practical way to enhance the success of all our other training programs to empower women, because they are now more motivated and empowered to engage in the various training programs we offer. Follow-up after 8 months and again after 3 years, found that mothers were continuing with their TM practice, reporting reduced stress and improved health and well-being, better employment, and more harmonious family relationships.
Reference: Goldstein, L., Nidich, S., Goodman, R., & Goodman, D. (2018) The effect of Transcendental Meditation on self-efficacy, perceived stress, and quality of life in mothers in Uganda.Health Care Women Int. 2018 Mar 1:1-24. doi: 10.1080/07399332.2018.1445254.
TM Clubs for Children
TM clubs for girls and boys were launched to allow children to come together to enjoy group meditation, and to participate in after-school knowledge programs and activities designed to allow them to naturally grow in their own unique positive qualities as boys and girls. With the opportunity for profound personal growth, this program aims to strengthen their roles in society and balance gender inequalities. Children report being less shy and more confident, feeling happier and more calm, with clearer thinking during the day and improvement in their studies. They are energetic and strong in their physical activities, and are enjoying improved relationships with family and friends.
UWOPED offers a wide range of programs to promote health and education to improve the lives of vulnerable women and their children.
Women’s Health Program: This program involves all of UWOPED’s programs that help women with health issues—including Home Based Care for HIV positive mothers and children; Sensitization Program, which covers condom use, family planning, hygiene, sexually transmitted diseases; and training in regard to diseases such as cholera, typhoid, cancer, etc.
Business Incubation Poverty Eradication Program: This program is helping women incubate businesses individually or in groups in order to reduce the number of vulnerable and unemployed women in Uganda and Africa at large.
Women’s Education Program: Our education program provides literacy training in English and other language training, including French for Congolese refugees. Our Functional Adult Learning program teaches illiterate mothers how to read and write. Many of our UWOPED members have had to drop out of school and we support them to advance their literacy at every level.
Child Protection Program: This program covers activities which aim at protecting the rights and wellbeing of vulnerable children to help them grow into better citizens of our nation. Activities include exercise and nutrition, mental health support, career guidance, human rights education, child violence protection, and empowerment education.
Schools Program: This program includes counseling sessions and training workshops to students about their rights and HIV aids. Additionally, UWOPED is one of the organizations selected as part of the government program of the Ministry of Gender and Social Development called Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC), which trains us as Para-Social Workers to identify cases of child neglect, and to work with children with disabilities. This allows UWOPED to be eligible for government funding to help support our programs in this area.