The story of Rose, Oliver, Nowe, Atwooki and Getu

Between themselves, the five ladies care for a total of 14 dependants in their homes. The 5 women came together two years ago now after realising that they had a common talent - making crafts with their hands - so that they could make more products and acquire a bigger market for their crafts. Together, they make ladies’ necklaces, purses, bags and bracelets from locally available materials such as papyrus, old magazine paper and tye & dye cloth.

During the time that they got together, the women admit that the most they sold was when they attended craft exhibitions, for which they had to split their profit between themselves and the exhibition managers for the stall rental. Even then, the women admit, exhibitions were not the usual occurrence. As such, there are few markets for their products.

SPAU identified the women as struggling single parents 14 months ago and linked them to Uganda Reflex a few months later. The Uganda Reflex team led by the UK charity founder, Rupert Turpin, bought a few crafts from the women. "Life has never been the same since," admits Rose, a member of the group, "Through SPAU, we continued to receive orders from our new friends in the UK over the year, especially for necklaces and bags," Rose adds. The women admit that the market provided to them by Uganda Reflex is actually the biggest that they have ever received since they got together to carry out their group economic initiative. Furthermore, this market has been a great source of income to the women and their families, enabling them to provide better for their livelihood needs, such as school fees and three square meals a day for their children. "We are extremely thankful…", Oliver, another member of the group says about the UK market.

 

Because it is quite costly to live in the city, Rose is teaching three of her younger children how to go about making the various crafts that she sells. She hopes that this way, they can help her out during their school holiday and thus make more crafts for sale. Already, two of them; Kate, 13 and Julie, 18, are expert at making the paper necklaces and bracelets. "The last batch that I sold to Hannah (founding member of Uganda Reflex) included some of Kate’s and Irene’s products too… with that money, our house rent for the past two months has now been paid", Rose admits.

For most of the women, because of the high cost of living in the city, they have got to be involved in more than one economic activity. All of them are involved in some kind of commerce (selling foodstuffs, second hand shoes) in the local markets around the trading centres in Namirembe every evening. But when there are no customers buying – which they say is usually most of the time – these women stand out from the rest as you can see them, with their hands hard at work; weaving, threading or simply designing their crafts, with a hope for satisfying another market for their products from the UK.

At least with this one initiative, the women can be sure of a ready market for their crafts for now.

 

 

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Uganda Reflex is a registered charity in England, number 1114929