In response to the 25+ year brutal insurgency in northern Uganda, Women’s Global Empowerment Fund has partnered with Volunteer Action Network, creating a funding initiative in northern Uganda. Northern Uganda is a post-conflict region, where women and children have experienced unimaginable violence and chronic poverty. The women in our program are former abductees, forced to become child soldiers for the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army); former sex slaves or ‘wives’ of LRA commanders, have lost many family members, and, for the most part, have been invisible to their government and the global community. The 25 year conflict left the region unstable, lacking in economic activity, and vulnerable to food and human insecurity.
Northern Uganda is in full recovery, and signs of hope for lasting peace and reconciliation are spreading; what is needed now is a comprehensive support package, including access to clean water and sanitation, health services and education. This is where Women’s Global is impacting the community by providing an opportunity for sustainable human development. The women in our program are going to school, feeding their children, and creating viable businesses; the Gulu market is growing and projects are becoming more diverse, with women raising livestock, chickens, selling produce, crafts, cooking, bricklaying, and opening small shops, restaurants, hotels and small to medium scale agriculture projects.
Our clients are rebuilding and recovering their lives, creating hopeful futures for themselves and their families. Here are a few of their stories in their own words:
My name is Betty Ocan, a widow and chairperson of the Pie-Tek Women Group. I joined Women’s Global Empowerment Fund in 2008 as a client to receive loans. It was my first time borrowing, and I was inspired by my neighbor who was getting the services, too. I used to stay and sell tomatoes at home and suffered with my stress and all the problems in silence. I had no one to share with, and hardly solved the problems that I had. Since I joined WGEF my life has changed. I have my own group and we can sit and share any issues in our lives.
I thank God for this program that provided me the opportunity of being a peer counselor. I’m a leader who is recognized in the community not only by the women in the program, but even other women in the community. Now my home is ever full with visitors (women) who come to share and seek advice from me. And now I feel I must run in the upcoming elections to become a political woman- why not? There I will struggle to extend my services and make women more aware of their potential.
“I thank God for this program that provided me with the opportunity of being a peer counselor…” -Betty Ocan.
With my group we continue getting loans from Women’s Global Empowerment Fund. I’m succeeding with my business, seeing it expanding every loan cycle. I have learned to save, and I feel a big change in my life. It can be seen even from my physical appearance. You know when you have money you will never fear to tell out your views and ideas, and people really respect that- I’m seeing all this with my eyes.
I only request that the office continue supporting us and more women in the community with their programs. We will have a better generation where women are respected and not taken like property and tools.
Thank you, I love the program.
Pie Tek women Group, Gulu
My name is Grace Ouma, a client and peer counselor with Women’s Global Empowerment Fund which has done a lot for me through the Credit Plus program. At first I thought it was only getting loans, but I realized the office was not giving only loans but also other trainings like GBV (Gender Based Violence). I went through the training and it has helped me in my house because I am able to make decisions with my husband and children together. For example, my husband now consults me when he is to sell any family property. Most importantly he considers my advice in any disagreements.
It is through sharing with my fellow women in the program and the training that we always get on how to handle such responsibilities. That is making me feel a sense of value greater than before.
“Our business is expanding we receive 300 chicks in our first lot of which 251 grew and we sold all in the Christmas season we got profits…” -Grace Ouma
I received the training from the office on leadership, counseling, and on how to form a group which is vital as we are returning back to our villages. There is a very big relationship between me and my village. I’m a leader and our group business is partly supporting the community, bringing a market close to our neighbors. Our business is expanding and we received 300 chicks in our first lot. 251 grew and we sold them all in the Christmas season and got profits. We are planning to get 600 in the next lot.
I participated in the Kikopo Pa Mon Drama Festival last year and got a certificate of advocating for women’s voices. (rights through monologue) The community is so proud of the way I was advocating for their rights through the poem, hence I have been chosen by the Mother’s Union of the Orthodox Church to be in their group as a leader. I was also chosen by the Gulu Disabled Person’s Union to advocate for disabilities rights through their poems. I’m so happy and impressed with the opportunity that I got from the festival.
I must thank Women’s Global Empowerment Fund for the services they rendered to me. I will be pleased if they continue extending services to other women. I want to achieve my goals of having my motorcycle as a business, sleeping in a good house, and being able to live a healthy life together with my family. I will realize all my goals through the savings and profits that I’m generating from my restaurant business that I started with a small loan from Women’s Global Empowerment Fund. If I continue getting loans from Women’s Global, I will be able to stand independently.
Thank you so much and God Bless you!
My Name is Piloya Gladys, 21 years a business woman selling tomatoes in the market. Some years back I was abducted and spent 3 years in the captivity of LRA rebels. Because of this I lost the opportunity to go school. It has been haunting me a lot whenever I go to hospital and get medications. Reaching home, I had to go to my neighbor to read and translate the meaning of the prescriptions. I have been shy for many years to talk about anything, and it kept me isolated for years.
“After paying back the loan I realized to have a profit of 30,000 shillings, I have extended my business to chicken realign project which will give me more profits…” -Piloya Gladys.
An opportunity came in 2008 when I was introduced to the Women’s Global Empowerment Fund by a friend who told me that they support women who are in a group. When I reached there my eyes were opened by attending trainings covering many skills. I will never forget the leader of this office who was like a father to every woman who visited the office. He helped me learn how to share with fellow women in the training , and he asked questions after every training. I was always fearful, but he encouraging us.
Our group called Dyere Keni Women’s Group received a loan of 500,000 shillings for three month of which we used following the advice we received at the trainings. After paying back the loan, I realized a profit of 30,000 shillings. I have extended my business with chickens and realigned projects which will give me more profits. We have repaid back our loan and applied for more.
I thank the office for taking us back to school. Through our literacy teacher, now I am able to write my name please continue helping more women in Gulu. God Bless you!
INSPIRED FARMER AND COMMUNITY LEADER
Akello Concy 31 years, married with 4 children, I joined the WGEF Loan program in 2010 when I was starting my new life from IDP Camp to resettle in my Village. We hardly had no where to start from, no shelter, no food, and no income at all. Only what I had was hope and resilient. I joined WGEF in 2010 and was given training and an agro loan of $ 90 to open my land, I started with vegetables growing on a small scale, Now I grow 5 hectares of vegetables and sweet potato’s which I sell ant my stall in the market fresh from my garden.
My business feeds my family, my children are healthy and all go to school. I’m the peer counselor from my village, I advise my fellow women who are faced with challenges in life this brings joy and pride inside me “EVERY WOMAN CAN SUPPORT A FELLOW WOMAN IN SO MANY WAYS NAYWHERE” Being a leader at the grassroots level gives me the opportunity to represent issues affecting women in my village I’m so happy that I can stand and speak in front of a gathering that includes men with confidence. This is a dream coming true
Thank you WGEF for supporting Women in Uganda
THE JOY OF BEING SELF DEPENDENT
My name is Mildred Akello, 31 years, married with 3 children, tailoring is my business. I was once a victim of abduction, rejected and discriminated daughter from my community when I escaped and came back home and now a respected mother and business woman.
Joining WGEF enabled me to learn and share my challenges, I started my business with the loan of $85 which I received from WGEF which enabled me to by a sawing and supplies. I make uniforms for school going children currently having 3 contracts from 3 schools. My business is my everything, supports my family in everything. I feel so happy that I’m not begging from anyone but I work with my hands.
Thank you WGEF and your team.
Gloria Echeme is my name, I’m 31 years, married with 2 children, I run an Agro-produce Supplier Business in CERELENO Gulu Town, dealing in buying agro from my fellow women farmers from the villages and sell to town and near by markets.
I joined WGEF 4 years and my group of 5 members received training in business management and a loan of $220 which we used to start our small businesses selling produce in main market. As my business grew up I expanded to reach more available markets around the region. I now supply in all regions including S. Sudan. Every week I supply 17 tones of goods (beans, Maize, G-nutes) to S.Sudan, my business has become so important as it links the farmers and the market helping many women to exploit the opportunities available, and encouraging them to invest in agriculture to feed the region.
My business supports my family, making sure my children get educated, feed well and plan for better future. I feel empowered and proud to be the link between agro farmers (Women) and the market support my region during this periods of time, I’m committed to continue grow my business and all is possible with technical and financial support from WGEF
Thank you WGEF is my family I love the program– Gloria
“Today I celebrate International Women’s Day with joy! I’m entering my permanent house that I constructed from my own savings for five years.”
Nancy, 48 and a mother of 6 children spent 14 years in and Internally Displaced Camp during the insurgence of LRA. She, like many, lost everything and depended on ratios from the World Food Program. Nancy joined WGEF 6 years back and has been running her agro business.
“I set up 2 goals when in joined WGEF (1) To educate all my children and 2 To construct a decent house I have achieved both my children all are in school 1 graduated this year and today I’m entering my New house. Thank you WGEF for empowering my family.” – Nancy, Gulu Beneficiary