Helping to find ways for women in Uganda to support themselves has been a goal since C2U board members first began working in Uganda in 2005. It’s what the women have asked for. Not handouts. Not physical gifts. But a way to support themselves and their families. They understand, maybe better than we do, that dependency is not the answer and self sufficiency is to be pursued. It is honorable and brings pride to those who can support themselves.
When Connect to Uganda began, the entire team decided creating and fostering relationships would be a priority for the organization. Certainly sharing our resources would be paramount to success, but we also knew developing relationships with those we serve could be the ‘secret sauce’ that is the ultimate answer. Making a connection…
And so, the Far Away Friends program was born. Simple and affordable enough for anyone to join; just $12 a month. And a connection to someone in Uganda who not only needs our help, but wants to know about us – our family, our jobs, our lives.
On the Uganda side, they have a friend in the US! We ask them about the program and they ALWAYS talk about their friend in the US. “Can you imagine?”, they will say. And those little tubes of lotion and lip balm they were given this summer? Priceless! Something just for them. It doesn’t happen often, as they are typically responsible for the food, shelter, water, and clothes for their families. There is seldom anything left over for self-care luxuries.
As we celebrate two years of the FAF program, the women in the program are different. They have learned new skills and they have the knowledge that someone in the US cares. That has brought confidence and more self worth to all of them. There are bigger smiles and more engagement when we visit, too.
But some of the challenges remain. The trainer for the women involved in the tailoring program is in Bubago at 10:00 am Thursday, Friday, and Saturday every week. Recently we heard that three of the women had not been showing up for training. Why wouldn’t they take advantage of this opportunity?
After some research, we found that one woman’s husband would not allow her to attend until she had done all of her work in the garden and completed her household chores.
Another had the opportunity to learn how to make shoes in a nearby village, so she is trying to keep up on learning both skills, while still maintaining her home and providing for her family.
And the third has been caring for her sister who was ill. The sister recently passed away and the woman was left with ten children to care for. She is hosting a meeting with relatives soon to determine how the kids will be divided up among them.
So it isn’t always a simple thing to give these women a better chance. Sometimes it seems the challenges never end for them. But we will continue to move forward, providing ways for them to succeed – training, capital and the knowledge that they have a friend who cares.
If you’re already in the FAF program, thank you! We hope you feel connected to the women in Bubago and to your specific friend. If you aren’t, we would love for you to join us in our efforts to empower these women. We promise we will share the ups and downs and work hard to connect you to this remarkable group. Together, we can give them the very best chance to succeed.