Finally after two years we got to return to Uganda! This was a longed for trip and we could not be happier with the outcome. It was heartwarming to connect with the women again and have the opportunity to interact with them over several days to learn more about their community and their lives.
This month’s trip was our first with our consultant, and now part-time employee, Julie Matovu. While she does not typically work with the handicrafts project, she has been key in facilitating all new projects, including agricultural development, gender-based analysis, and empowerment workshops. As we correspond with her nearly daily, we are certain she is a name you will hear often moving forward. Our trip consisted of three days visiting the five villages associated with the project – interviews with the participating women, visits to individuals’ gardens to learn about the agricultural progress, and an afternoon of participative discussion regarding the bead/handicraft project. We also did some preparations for the health survey that Konstantina has developed and that we plan to do in the near future. We had a short meeting with a woman in the local government and she supports us doing the survey. Following our time in the village, fifteen members were selected to attend a leadership retreat just outside Kampala for three days of workshops, motivational speakers, field visits and more.
The weekend’s workshops included two dedicated sessions to the Art of Living Breath Water Sound course. Lene guided them on the four sources of energy (food and water, sleep, breath and a positive state of mind) and linked it to their experiences during the field trips to organic farms emphasizing good nutrition and clean water. We then focused on the breath and learned the breathing exercise Bhastrika. Laughter and sound as ways to achieve a positive state of mind, were experienced through a clapping game and singing by the women (we have amazing videos and photos of this that we will share with you soon!). In the second session we added stretching by doing simple yoga poses.
Our retreat’s guest speakers included Josephine Nakanwagi, who spoke on the qualities of a leader challenges toward developing leadership traits; Joy Mirembe Abola from Akamai Global, who spoke on financial literacy and personal development; Angella Namenta, a social worker who spoke on gender issues and gender equality; and Birgitte Bech from Children in Africa, who spoke women’s challenges in general and the importance of working together.
We also brought the group on three field visits to view local community groups who have successfully undertaken similar projects. It seemed the women left refreshed, inspired and invigorated. All the women took copious notes and planned to take our lesson boards back to their villages to share with others. All guest speakers and example villages were women they seemed to identify with quite easily, allowing them to envision themselves as future examples in a short time.
We will be sharing more from amazing this trip in the coming future by updating our web page (already started - check it out!), videos and photos, and more blog posts. Stay tuned! :)