Everything revolves around one simple concept: women's cooperatives. When we gather women together to empower and encourage one another in the context of real relationships, healing and lasting change occurs.
Long Term Sustainability
Currently, BFAU works with 38 women's cooperatives in 32 villages around the Teso region (some villages have multiple cooperatives). Each cooperative is a group of 30-50 single mamas and widows who meet weekly for encouragement, training and a pooling of their resources to make a difference in their villages!
This is where real healing occurs, as the mamas share their stories, joys and struggles and support one another. It is in the context of this community that we can empower our mamas through:
1. Monthly Mentoring.
Rita (our field director) visits each group monthly of training, mentoring and conflict resolution.
2. Literacy+ Training:
Literacy+ classes teach reading, writing, basic math, sanitation, hygiene, nutrition and business principles. These classes are offered 2-3x per week at various literacy centers where mamas can gather with their "sisters" from their cooperative as well as mamas from other BFAU cooperatives to encourage each other as a community and learn together. Many of our mamas were not given the opportunity to go to school as children, so Literacy+ classes are not only informative but redemptive too! They feel like "school girls" again and LOVE learning to write their names, read and do math. This means our mamas can read doctors orders and their children's homework. It means they are not getting cheated at the market because they can count now. It means real, sustainable change.
3. Clean Water
We provide (in partnership with a local drilling company that we contract) deep water boreholes (wells) for villages as funding is available. We have provided 35 wells so far. Each of our villages now has access to at least 1 clean water well. We are now working on adding 2nd or 3rd wells to decrease the amount of time that women spend walking for water each day, which increases the amount of time they can spend with their families and on growing their businesses.
Mentoring, School Fees and Literacy+ Covered by monthly donors who sponsor a mama.
Short Term Aid that Empowers
Long-term sustainability is a long-term solution. In the meantime, there are a few things that can't wait.
1. School Fees & Weekly Mentoring.
Primary school is provided by the gov't of Uganda, but secondary (middle/high) school costs often soar way above what a typical single mom can provide for. For this reason, we offer grants (not 100% because we still want the mamas contributing) for secondary school as well as further education in the form of vocational school or university. Most children are sent to day schools, but if a school is not within walking distance or the walk is deemed dangerous for girls, we send them to boarding school. (boarding school is very common and highly sought after in Uganda). We have 1,000+ children in this program that is funded by those who have joined villages as well as one-time donations to the school fund. We also provide mentoring for the students through weekly visits from our school program director, Mike, to each of the 6 main schools we partner with in the Teso region.
2. Emergency Medical Fund
After losing 2 mamas to surgeries that would have cost less than $250, we quickly realized that the best way to attack the growing issue of orphans in the world is to keep mamas alive! For this reason, we have an emergency medical fund for our mamas.
3. Child Headed Households
We have 40 precious ones who have lost both of their parents. While we believe in empowerment for mamas, we believe children should get to remain dependent. For this reason, we support our child headed household kiddos 100% by placing them in foster or kinship families within their clan and partnering with these families by providing for their financial needs completely.
Clean Water and Emergency Medical Care are covered by one time donations. Child headed households are covered by monthly donors who sponsor kiddos
Field Director, Ennu Rita, meets with the mamas monthly to mentor, provide training, pray with them and help them work through group issues that arise