We are able to implement a number of small scale development initiatives and random acts of kindness called ‘Projects’. All of our projects are initiated and put into action by the women of Grassroots Uganda.
Reusable Menstrual Pads
Having your period in the village is an inconvenience to say the least.
Most rural women cannot afford the luxury of disposable pads, so they resort to stuffing their knickers with old rags, dried grass, and even rubbish they pick from the roadside. This is inefficient and unhygienic.
Young girls have an even harder problem because if they are in school all day they are constantly worried about leaking and odor. Life is hard enough as a teenage girl, and the added threat of embarrassment is enough to prompt the girls to play hooky from school during their periods. This causes them miss about five days of classes per month and as a result, their grades drop.
In an effort to combat this, we are working on an initiative to promote hygienic, reusable menstrual pads for our women, and their families. We buy the pads from a local women’s organization, and sell them to our ladies at the subsidized rate of half our buying price.
We then have workshops where we counsel the women on how to care for the pads properly, ensuring that the practice remains hygienic and that the pad can be reused for up to two years.
Next, we teach the women to make the pads themselves, either by hand-stitching, or with a sewing machine. The ladies can then produce their own pads for home use, or to sell to other people, further promoting the pads initiative.
Goat Give Away(s)
Goats are easy animals to care for. They eat anything, and require almost no veterinary services. The meat is tasty, fetches a high price in the market, and does not offend any religious group active in Uganda.
Every year we host a “Goat Giveaway” where one of our women’s groups meets with the village elders, and as a committee, they identify families who are especially needy.
We then give each family one pregnant goat.
Giving a pregnant goat is an investment in the family’s future as it guarantees the goat is fertile and can produce more goats. If the baby goats are female, they can be used to produce more and more goats, and if the offspring are male, they are sold to the butchers.
Goat giveaways are a fantastic way to give people a hand up, and help them invest in their futures.
Flavia Benefit Project
After surviving a brutal machete attack (see Flavia under Meet the Artists), Flavia was in a very difficult situation, both physically and financially. In the hospital we brought her food, supplies, met with her doctors, and offered moral support.
We raised money to pay her medical fees, as well as give her a monthly donation to cover her living expenses for a year.
She is currently enrolled in sewing classes during the weekends as she works cleaning a church during the week. She is a member of one of our women’s groups, and makes jewelry independently as a member of our Artist Co-Op.
When she completes her training; we have enough money left to buy Flavia her own sewing machine so that she can start her own tailoring business.
Operation “Pluck Pluck”
As an extra income generating activity for the ladies, we assisted the Namakuma Women’s Group with starting a small poultry project.
We provided the baby chicks, feeds, and money for immunizations. The ladies provided the chicken house, around the clock care, and the stove and fuel for the charcoal heater.
As public transport does not reach Namakuma, we strapped the baby chicks onto motorcycles (in boxes) and drove them to the village.
In an addition to Operation “Pluck Pluck” we donated African breed laying hens to needy families identified by our women. The hens are capable of feeding themselves, and the eggs provide a source of daily nutrition to the family.
Donating Eye Glasses
Many of our ladies are getting older, and their eyesight is deteriorating. Obviously this is unfortunate at many levels, one being that beading and weaving requires good eyesight to do intricate, good quality work!
From donations by schools, churches, and private individuals, we had several hundred pairs of eyeglasses donated.
The ladies were VERY excited and poured through the glasses. Ladies who could read tested the glasses by trying to read with them, and ladies who are illiterate tested them by threading a needle.
The remaining glasses we donated to medical outreach NGO’s who are also working in Uganda.
Building a Latrine at Busy Bee School
Busy Bee is a nursery school located in a rural, and poor area. A man who has been working closely with Grassroots Uganda (Kyakonye Fred), asked us to visit the school and see if we could find money in our budget to build the school a latrine, as the children were sneaking back into the fields of the neighboring farmers to do their business. A practice that was both unhygienic, and irritating to the neighbors!
After visiting the school, we agreed that yes, we could help, and through donations, we were able to build a permanent, fantastic latrine for the kids.
Supporting Mary’s Orphans
Mary was a friend of several of the ladies associated with Grassroots Uganda. After a long battle with AIDS, she eventually died, leaving behind three boys.
Mary’s husband died early on, and during the last couple years of her illness, her older boys William Otema and Nokrath Isaac worked as day labor, doing odd jobs to support their family. Because of this, they are years behind in education.
After Mary’s passing, the ladies were contributing what they could spare to help the boys, but life in Africa is hard and they finally came and asked if Grassroots Uganda could help.
So for the last two years, we’ve been providing the boys with a monthly living allowance and school supplies, we bought the boys new beds, and were even able to finish paying for the home that their parents had started buying years before.