We currently have a group of ladies who meet almost every Friday to learn a job skill. Before they leave we have tea and a Bible study together. Many of the women are from the slums in Soroti, and the majority are single mothers.
A common business in Uganda is selling local breads called mandazi or chapatti. We thought introducing new breads to the market might be a good way for impoverished women to start their own businesses, so we’ve been teaching the ladies how to make American breads like donuts, a Ugandanized version of soapillas and pancakes. The ladies then chose which bread they would like to make. We bring the ingredients to their homes the first day and help them make the bread, then the women can use the profits from the sale of the bread to purchase the supplies needed to continue their businesses. Most of them have already started their own bread businesses, and so far many of them are selling very well.
We’ve also been teaching the women how to make jewelry using beads made from rolled paper as a way to supplement their income while they establish their businesses. We purchase the jewelry from them, and then we hope to sell it in the United States. All of the profits go towards meeting urgent or serious medical needs for children from impoverished homes as well as towards teaching additional job skills (such as tailoring) to impoverished women.
If you are interested in understanding more about what life is like for some of these ladies, we’ve told a few of their stories under the blog section. You can also read them here.
The children’s program began in May 2017. We started by sponsoring 23 children from Apapai village. At the same time we began a Saturday Bible program, but decided to open the Bible class to other children in the village rather than keeping it to just the sponsored ones. When we began, this area was just coming out of a drought which had destroyed many of the crops for two years in a row. Most of the new crops had not been harvested yet; so many people in the villages were experiencing famine. Because of this, we decided to feed the children who came to the Bible program breakfast and lunch. Very quickly the program grew until we could no longer fit all the children into the small, thatched-roof Baptist church where we held the Bible class. The village came together a couple months ago to build us a new, bigger building, so hopefully that will be done soon.
Here is what we are seeing and how we are praying about moving forward:
We want discipleship to be the top priority in everything we do, but we also recognize that God cares deeply for our physical needs. Because of this, we would love to help impoverished women and village families rise out of extreme poverty while discipling them at the same time. We are hoping to do this using a self-sustained business model.
Poverty is widespread, and it can be almost impossible for an uneducated single mom to rise out of her situation because of the extremely high unemployment rate and the lack of capital to start a business.
In the villages farming is the main source of income. There is no irrigation and crops are completely dependent on good rains. If the rains are poor it leads to famine. Villages have almost no job or business opportunities.
Parents do not have enough money for food, medical care or school fees for their children.
While we started by sponsoring children, we feel it may be wiser to move forward by addressing the problem rather than the symptom. The problem is lack of work, the symptom is no money for school fees, medical care or food.
Our hope, Lord willing, is to provide parents an opportunity to earn money to start their own businesses and cover the cost of their children’s school fees and medical care.
Our current plan is to:
1. Teach parents how to make jewelry, leather shoes and other handmade items that can be sold in the States. As we teach them we will meet weekly for Bible study and also teach them good business or farming practices.
2. Buy the items from them at a fair price.
3. The first $100 they make will goes towards establishing them in the business of their choice or towards buying animals (like chickens, goats, cows etc.) for village families($100 goes a long way here). We will also buy additional crafts to supplement their income for up to a year, but will gradually buy less and less so that by the time the year is up they should be fully supporting themselves.
The profits from the sale of the jewelry in the US will go to support this program, meet urgent or serious medical needs for children from impoverished families as well as to support the Saturday Bible program. We are also praying about the possibility of using extra profits to begin a program for street children or possibly an irrigation system for the village.