In Uganda it is the women that hold the household together yet it is the women that are discriminated against. Therefore, it is no surprise that when Chloe and Sam Mutton wanted to set up new projects in the slums of Kampala, that they turned to the women. Chloe once said that “if you empower a woman, you don't just empower that woman, you empower the family and you change the culture of the children.” It is with this in mind that Charlotte, Joy for Children and Communities woman's worker, meets with women in four slums weekly. Charlotte has a degree in Food Processing Technology, a huge heart for community empowerment and is a committed Christian.
How the project works
Visiting the elderly and sick in the community
During the week Charlotte enters the slums (a different one each day) at 2pm to meet with the Chair of the women's group. This Chair Woman has been elected by the women in the group and is able to show Charlotte to the people that are sick or vulnerable within the slums. Through the work of Charlotte and the Chair Woman, Joy for Children and Communities is able to provide soap,sugar and rice to the vulnerable people within the slums that may not have been reached before. Charlotte can also use the opportunity to tell the vulnerable how Joy for Children and Communities can help through the projects in the slums and pray for them. Before the meeting begins Charlotte focuses on building friendships with the women so that she can really understand how the projects Joy for children and Communities runs can really help. Meetings begin with an opening prayer, a word from the Chair and then a talk from Charlotte about a specific topic such as Family Planning, Business Training or Hygiene. Throughout the meeting the women are encouraged to discuss the topic and share knowledge with each other before closing with a bible verse. Amidst all of this, skills training, a Savings Scheme and a Health Insurance Programme has been introduced.
Income generating activities
Soon after the women's meetings were established, the women recognised that they didn't have enough skills that could be used in a business to generate an income. After establishing that the jewellery made by the women in the slums could be sold in the Uk, the women wanted to teach each other how to make the jewellery so that more could be shipped and sold in the Uk. This was the first of the training sessions and was very successful. However, it was soon obvious that selling the jewellery in the Uk couldn't be the only income and business for the women as the market just wasn't big enough. This then led to the women asking for training in skills such a soap making and the making of items that could then be sold in Uganda. Joy for Children and Communities then paid for Ugafat to provide each slum with the training (chosen by the women) which led to the women being able to develop their individual businesses or start a group business. However, every new business has a start up cost and it was from the Savings Scheme that had been running in the background of everything else that enabled these small new businesses to begin.
Saving and Loan Scheme
Within the slums of Kampala, many women haven't been educated about the importance of saving and therefore don't understand the need to do so. The Savings Scheme was introduced to encourage women to manage their own savings so that when given the skills, the women have the resources to start new businesses. Each women's meeting encourages it's members to save as little or as much as they want with the group whilst the treasurer regulates the money saved by each individual. The women then took this a step farther and introduced a developed scheme, this meant that throughout the year the women loan their saved money to each other but pay it back along with a small interest. This interest over the year is then calculated as profit and put towards the group business and end of year party. Some of the profits even helped local sick people and in one instance even went towards paying for a members husbands burial. In 2014 Chivilu slum, the biggest group with about 50 active members, managed to save the equivalent of £2,500 as a combined group which goes to show the success of the Savings Scheme.
It is the combination of the Savings Scheme, the Training and the bringing together of women that has led to women being empowered within the slums of Kampala. At the beginning only fifteen women met together in one slum, now Joy for Children and Communities is in touch with over three hundred women in four different slums. Individuals have successfully started and developed their own businesses whilst group businesses such as chicken farming have also been able to grow. It is the training that has provided the women with the skills and the business training that has enabled them to understand how a successful business is run. With the help of Joy for Children and Communities, women have been transformed in confidence and happiness, they have been empowered and now some members even make enough money to pay for their own children to go to school. Bringing these women together has provided a social network/community and developed friendships in the slums that may not have happened without these meetings. Friendships provide a support network for the women and it is the community-led based work of Joy for Children and Communities that has enabled all of the above to happen.
Joy for Children and Communities hopes to keep growing their network of women within the slums of Kampala, focusing on building new groups in new slums with the vision of encouraging the groups to be self sustaining. Eventually Joy for Children and Communities hopes to simply oversee the meetings rather than facilitate them, something that can already be seen in some of the slums. Please click onto our newsletter page to see the latest updates on the work being done with the women in the slums.