Jessica here, checking in to welcome you to our blog and inviting you to continue to share our journey!
Thank you for stopping by to pay us a visit. What a great adventure we have been on over the last 2.5 years.
We are so excited to share the great news that the IRS has approved our 501(c)3 status, and we are now a tax exempt organization under the governing rules of a 501(c)3 regulations, DLN – 17053331341002, EIN 45-1020351.
This has been a strong fight for us. Those that follow us know we have a slightly different approach to “charity.” We don’t believe in giving anything away, but instead, we believe in teaching and providing lifeskill training that enables all of our participants the education to progress their own lives. So far, it has been working quite well! Our biggest stumbling block during our application process is that we plan to manufacture our own marketing materials on ground in Uganda, instead of purchasing them from other agents. To our team it made sense, however, our roots are set in a non-hybrid not for profit state and the law didn’t see it as making sense.
We fought for our beliefs though, and we were triumphant!
We will be bringing you more blogs now, both from the ground in Uganda and from exciting things the team is putting together across the USA. We are so excited to start this next chapter with a completely new and fresh board. Over the last three months, we have welcomed on 4 new faces from 3 different states, all with a diverse background but with a mutual love for our project.
We will be introducing you all to our new team shortly, but first, we want to share with you the growth over the last two years!
We started in a small school house that can only be described as bullet ridden and dilapidated. We were fortunate to obtain our own compound that provided us with a three room main house, boys quarters, a traditional outside kitchen room, and two out rooms that still need to be worked upon.
The compound needed some work immediately. For starters, we needed to have iron gates custom made to fit the security wall. They were promised to be delivered within two weeks but keeping with AST (Africa Standard Time), they were delivered in three months. This caused a bit of a stall as we could not install equipment without properly locking gates.
Finally, the gates were installed and we realized we had a HUGE problem with our electricity. Being in the village, we get electricity around 20 hours a week. However, our house got electricity around 5. We thought the country was just really short on electricity during this time frame but slowly, we began to realize that our wiring left much to be desired. This was “fixed,” but now we only have one working outlet in the entire house. Needless to say, we need to bring someone from Kampala in to asses and fix the situation which is one of our major goals you will read about in our “Wishes and Dreams for the Compound” post coming soon.
We were able to put in four machines, a custom made pattern and fabric cutting table, three bookcases, stools, benches, repaint the entire compound inside and out, and install doors to the kitchen room. It wasn’t our dream compound, but it has become functional!
Over the last two and half years since we officially opened the compound, we have been fortunate enough to work with 42 women ranging in age from 15-68. Al women are interviewed upon entrance to the program for their knowledge, skills, health problems, family life, previous history, goals and dreams. The interview process takes around 30 minutes per women and often involves many shed tears, hugs and excitement from our staff who knows we can change these tears to smiles.
Of the 42 women we have been able to get to know, 95% identified themselves as peasants, 100% made under $10 a month, and eventually every woman admitted to prostitution to make ends meet.
We know prostitution is a large problem which is why we chose Kapeeka as our first plant. Kapeeka was devastated during the War of the Bush in the 1980s, slaughtering what is estimated to be around 70-80% of the village. The army barracks are close, so those that remained had to make a living somehow. The average age of a beginning prostitute in our village is only 8 years old.
With something as simple as a needle and thread, we have been able to open a community center that teaches valuable village lifeskills such as sewing, needlework, tailoring, English, math and financial responsibility. These classes are open to everyone in the program and the community center remains open for participants to utilize our materials with their new skills to produce pieces that they can sell. On top of the community center and educational programs, we selected 7 women to advance their tailoring training. These 7 women spend Monday through Thursday at the compound and study for 6 hours a day. They receive a monthly stipend, tuition reimbursement for their children, a hot lunch everyday (and when our founder is on the ground plenty of chocolate, tea and biscuits, and dinner parties), and access to clean water.
The stories of success that come from our advanced tailors are heartwarming and we will be sharing these with you in the oncoming weeks, as well as information on how you can sponsor a tailor monthly to ensure their growth.
Our dreams are large, at times they seem endless, and that is exactly how they should be.
We truly could not be where we are today without all of you, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your love and dedication to our work.
From our homes to yours,
We can’t wait to stay in touch!