These women’s story is touching. The first chicks we gave them died due to the avian flu. We re-issued the chicks and as they say, the rest is history. The women grew their micro farms through hard work and enterprise. When we caught up with them in December, they all had tales of new enterprises that included pig farming, growing cereals and this money went towards paying schools fees, health care and in some instances repairs to the houses
Community meeting chaired by Jacob Kafureka- Mayor of Ntungamo Municipality
Apart from attending sewing and hairdressing workshops, the girls take time out to have fun which includes playing football and amateur dramatics. This enables the girls to bond as a group whilst having fun at the same time. More importantly, girls gain confidence in the process. When most of the girls first arrive, they appear shy and unable to speak up. This is sometimes because they have been isolated from people their own age.
This is Sarah who was part of the second cohort of the sewing class and she was one of the girls who lacked confidence when she arrived at the workshop. Today, she leads the girls’ football team.
In December we held a parents day which was attended by officers from Itojo sub-county and the day’s entertainment was from the girls. we were treated to songs, local dances and skits. Like their parents, I was surprised at how talented the girls are and some even talked about forming an amateur theatrics club.
I loved skit. It is a scene inside a head teacher’s office on the first day of school
In order to bring clean water to the peri-urban areas of Ntungamo municipality, we have teamed up with the National Water and Sewerage Company of Uganda. The NWSC is a government parastatal responsible for the water supply and sewerage services in various large towns in Uganda and is the sole authorized provider of clean potable water services to the area.
This is possibly one of our most exciting initiatives. Access to clean water is a big deal and that NWSC agreed to work with us is doubly exciting.
The reason why this is a big a deal is that, in an African setting, the task of fetching water is left to women and girls and often this water is not safe to drink. This means that it must be boiled in a pan on an open fire. The task of finding firewood and boiling the water is also left to women and girls.
Given the fact that women and girls travel long distances to collect the water as well as all the domestic work they are responsible for, this step is often left out. As a result, several households risk contracting water-borne diseases since the water they have access to is shared with animals. Therefore access to clean piped water near to homesteads saves women and girls time to focus on income generating activities and or school. It also reduces the incidences of water-borne diseases.
We signed an MOU in which we agreed to pay fees for 1700 connections in 17 villages in the municipality. This work is currently underway. I had the opportunity to visit some of the residents that benefited from this scheme.
In some of the homesteads, we learned that access to piped water has meant that, women and children no longer have to fetch water for animals and people.
In 2016, we set out to establish the types of interventions that improve the livelihoods of girls and women from rural villages in Itojo Sub-County, where Ruhanga parish is located and this programme is part of that broader strategy.
We worked in collaboration with the NGO Joy Goat Development to introduce a new breed of dairy goats into Ruhanga parish. A limited number of participants, in this instance widows who were struggling to get an income, received a 50% cross breed female dairy goat as a loan. The women had to care for the goat until it produced the first kid.
Once the first births were weaned, the offsprings were returned to LTHT and the women at that point were given sole ownership over the initial goat.
This goat then became an asset that the woman could use to;
generate income, support herself and her family through the continuous sale of the goat’s offspring,
the sale of goat’s milk or improve the nutritional intake of their family if they opt for personal consumption.
Female kids returned to LTHT, went to the next widow on the waiting list whilst the male goats were sold and the money was put back into the project.
We have distributed 18 offsprings and the adult female goats have had a second round of pregnancies. Goat milk was a new concept to this community, but children were open to trying it. We hope that adults will start drinking it too as it becomes part of the diet in this area.
The whole community benefited from the program by crossing breeding their local female goat with dairy male goats. The aim of this aspect of the project was to increase the genetic pool for future generations.
Two years on, the people of Itojo Sub-county have a clear understanding of the benefits of crossbreeding, the importance of good record keeping, identifying when a goat was on heat, the benefits of timely deworming treatments, etc. Each of the three bucks has had 75 offsprings and the number continues to grow.
We have been running a Skills Development Initiative in Itojo Sub-county since May 2016. Our aim is to enable girls aged between 15-25 that are not in Employment, Education or Training (NEETs) acquire skills that they can use to create their own employment or seek employment elsewhere.
The first phase of this initiative focused on sewing machine operation, fabric construction, fashion design and at the end of the year last we carried out a survey amongst the youth in the community to find out what skills they were interested in. The girls that were surveyed voted for hairdressing overwhelmingly.
We visited various beauty salons to try and understand what is required to set up a hairdressing workshop and in February this year, we opened the doors to the first cohort of girls aged between 15-25.
Uniforms were ordered
And the hard work started
The course is offered on a one-year basis after which the girls will seek employment elsewhere or create their own employment and the easiest way to do this is if the girls become mobile hairdressers.
Workshops such as this are a lifeline for Uganda’s rural youth especially girls. This is because most drop out of school due to a lack of schools fees. These girls are unemployable due to a lack of skills or proper education and most work the land whilst they wait to be married off.
Why does this matter?
Uganda’s National Bureau of statics (UBOS) reports that amongst 18-30-year-olds 57% are self-employed, 24% work for someone, of those in employment 63% work in agriculture, 29% in the service industry whilst 8% are in manufacturing.
In addition that unemployment amongst the youth in Kampala, Uganda’s capital stands at 15% and is three times higher than the national average. Underemployment is high, at least 14.1 Million young people in rural areas are unemployed due to a lack of skills.
The situation in Ntungamo district where Itojo Sub County is located is that 85% of the population is aged between 15-30 years and the incidence of unemployment amongst this age group is 90%. In addition, there are no skills training colleges locally and as such, we are overwhelmed with requests for this type of training.
Our first campaigns to improve menstrual hygiene in Ntungamo district focused on secondary schools in the district. We were subsequently informed that we ought to focus on primary schools as the need is greater amongst that age group.
Our menstrual hygiene ambassadors, therefore, visited one Itojo Central Primary school and heard directly from year seven girls and their teacher. The situation here was indeed as bad as we had been told.
Most girls did not have access to hygienic absorbents during their periods and amongst the things they used were, old clothes, rags, banana fibres, leaves, cotton, feathers etc. some amongst the girls, missed school during their periods whilst those who had access to disposal sanitary pads didn’t change them often.
Disposal sanitary towels are expensive to buy and as such most parents encourage their daughters to ensure that one towel lasts 7-9 hours. Inevitability this leads to infections and several of the girls in year seven that use disposal sanitary towels, reported various infections.
The girls were given a reusable menstrual hygiene kit made at our workshop in Itojo sub-county. The kit has two liners and 8 napkins and if used correctly, it lasts three years. The kit comes with a backpack that enables girls to carry their pads discreetly.
Itojo Primary School is one of many schools in the sub-county that do not provide hygienic products for managing periods. The consequences of this, are that a large number of girls drop of school for something that costs as little as £5 and lasts three years.
The lack of access to menstrual hygiene management may mean that nation-states will achieve the following Sustainable Development Goals 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 12.
In my last post about this program, I told you about my visit with the women in May. Two months after I left news of new additions to the program reached me.
In the last update the women were grappling with the impact of avian flu on the egg market and rather than sell the eggs for very little money, the women decided to keep the eggs and figure out how to hatch them.
The women have let all their hens go free range, in turn this fooled the hens into seating on their eggs.
The results have been amazing. This has meant new additions to the original number of chicks we gave the women and the start of scaling up of these micro chicken farms.
The best performer so far is Christine. She had three cocks that she sold and bought a couple of goats. This will enable her to take part in our goat cross breeding program and therefore enable her to access goat milk as part of her diet.
Christine stopped selling her eggs as she was only getting £1.90 per tray of 30 eggs. She has started selling tow month old chicks at £2.15 and she earned £17.20 from the sale of 8 chicks.
Christine had zero income at the start of the program and lived off the land and as such £17.20 is a a fortune. This is equivalent to what a teacher would earn at a local school would earn in two months.
Jadress Kabiga has new additions to her micro farm too. I was surprised to learn that she has 16 one month old chicks from the eggs of two hens.
Jadress’ chickens and some of the new additions.
This is Sylvia who we told you about earlier in the year. She is still collecting eggs as well as
hatching. She has 5 three week old chicks that she will sell at two months. Two months is the age at which a chick is deemed able to adapt to a new environment.
This was a new program for us, and we are very pleased with the impact it is having on women’s livelihoods. We are grateful to our friends and supporters who have made this possible,
A few weeks ago we added pig farming to our range of livelihood programmes for ultra poor women in Ntungamo district. Through this program, we provide women with an asset as well as training. these are women without capital to start enterprises and the asset we provide enables the women to generate income as well as build capital for reinvestment .
In the latest project, a group of 20 widows have been provided with a two-month old pig to look after until it gives birth to the first set of piglets. At that stage the Sow as well as two piglets will become the property of the woman to enable her to grow a micro pig farm from which she can generate an income as well as well as improve the diet of her family.
These are the women that are currently enrolled on the pig project.
The women were given a piglet of the Cambarough pig breed. This breed is reportedly very good at looking after its young and for littering up to 14 piglets from one pregnancy. This means that a woman can grow her micro farm quickly.
Distribution day- I am told that this was a fun day as of the piglets attempted to run away having been contained on the truck for an hour.
The women were also given commercial feed for the piglet to enable them to settle into their new homes
Some of the women were given this type of piglet, which is a cross breed of a local boar and the Landrace pig. This was a good outcome for the local man who bred them. He was given the Sow as a present by someone who had a similar objective to us- giving an asset that the recipient can use to generate an income.
This local man earned £120 by selling 9 two month old piglets into the project. This is not a great deal of money to most in the West, but for someone that had no income at all, this is a fortune.
For our part, it was a pleasure to contribute to this man’s livelihood as well as enabling these piglets to remain in the environment they are familiar with and we hope that, they will thrive as a result.
As well as working with the women on setting up these micro pig farms, we have set up a stand alone pig farm. This will enable us to provide piglets to the wider community without the need to raise more money.
This is the completed pig sty. We sourced all the materials from local suppliers and used local labour.
The pigs move in. We have started off with 4 6 and 7 month old pigs and all being well, we will have our first baby pigs in December.
In January this year, we announced the birth of our first baby goats .
I am pleased to report that 4 of those kids are now ready to leave home. The two females will be given to the next widows in the queue whilst the males will be sold on and the money will go back into the project.
For the women who were first in the queue, the goat has now become their personal asset. This means that they do not have to pass on the next round of kids.
This is Jovlet, a real star in the program. She adores goats. This is the female kid she is passing on to her neighbour.
This is Lydia, I caught up with Lydia in May this year and she was very eager to show off her handiwork. She kept meticulous records of her goat’s feeding, vaccinations etc. I can’t imagine how she coped with passing on the kid to someone else.
These are the recipients of the new kids and one of them has volunteered to look after one of the male kid for 6 months.
Maria’s goat is pregnant again.. she is off to a good start
This Maria with the Project Manager Osbert. Maria has been a strong advocate for this program as her daughter died right after delivering her baby girl so Maria used goat’s milk to feed her grandchild for almost a year.
Os, on the goat trail.. this means he is collecting all the kids that were board in January and are ready to leave home.
I am pleased to see the next phase of this project as this was a new project for us and we were not sure, how it would pun out.
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A year ago we set up a sewing room with a view to address the lack of skills amongst girls in Ntungamo District in SW Uganda. Our focus would be on girls aged between 17- 25 Not in Education, Employment or Training, the so called NEETS.
We set up a sewing room and invited girls from the village to come hang out with us, The results were amazing
Last month, we invited a new set of girls to join the program. It was heartening to see parents turn up with their girls. We were surprised by how young this group of girls are.
This is Abias and Catherine and they are 16 and 15. Both are being raised by single mothers and did not finish their primary school education.
This is 15 year old Olivious and 17 year old Marion. They both completed Primary school but were unable to continue in further education due to lack of school fees.
The girls have hit the ground running and their first task to to find their way around a sewing machine.
78% of Uganda’s population is under 30 years of age and sadly the incidence of unemployment amongst this age group is high. This has implications for poverty levels amongst the youth and some of the reasons for this are due to a lack of skills.
Our skills program for NEETS seeks to mitigate both poverty and unemployment amongst girls in Itojo sub-county. We currently do not have space to offer a wide range of skills and can only take in 15 girls a year on our sewing program. We would like to change this by scaling the program and you can help us by making a donation at our Virgin Page