Purple Shoots expedition to Uganda investigate Self Reliant Groups
Our last full day in Uganda was spent with another partner of the Mbale Coalition Against Poverty - Ugandan Women's Concern Ministries. This organisation, originally aiming to help children, realized early on that the most effective way to support children and communities was to support women to earn their own income - this would help not just the women but their entire family. So one of the key things they do is to set up self-help (self-reliant) groups. They work in the hardest to reach and poorest communities and seek to help holistically - i.e. not just to help them improve their situation economically through the groups but also to find all kinds of other support, helping lonely and isolated people (for example widows, disabled people or others who struggle to feel a part of the community.)
The organisation is run by a very small team of deeply committed people (pictured) who were inspiring - they commented that "the need is very great and we are few and our resources are little but we do what we can and we have come far." We visited the community of Nabumali and after another overwhelmingly warm welcome of songs, drama and poetry, each of us spent some time in the groups hearing from the group members about their impacts: a widow who is caring for 8 of her own children and 4 orphans and not only receives help from the group financially when she is struggling, but has also gained self-respect because she is able also to contribute to the group.
Another lady who was trying to make do as a streetseller of a local pancake-like delicacy (delcious - she gave me one) was enabled to turn that into a proper business through the encouragement of the group and the savings which she accumulated through being part of it. Their best quote (apart from "we are kicking poverty out of Nabumala) was - "we begin with the little we have and go on to build"
Not a bad motto for our self-reliant groups in Wales too!