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Kampala weekend, June 14-16

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Last Friday morning, I took a mini-bus taxi, a boda boda, and another mini-bus taxi from Ddegeya village to the capitol city, Kampala. My first stop was Sseko Designs (http://ssekodesigns.com/). Founded by American, Liz Forkin Bohannon, Sseko is a socially conscious company that makes organic shoes and accessories. Sseko began as a way to generate income for high potential, talented young women to continue on to university. Sseko has graduated three classes of women. Every woman who graduated from Sseko is currently pursuing her college degree. In addition to the university-bound team, Sseko employs a full-time team of women from all walks of life. By creating an environment of dignity, honor, creativity and dedication, Sseko Designs provides the opportunity for women in East Africa to end the cycle of poverty and create a more equitable society.
Sseko’s US headquarters is in my home city of Portland, OR. I visited Sseko Portland before I left for Uganda, and was excited to see the facility where the women make the beautiful shoes. Two of the women gave me a tour, explaining the shoe making process to me from start to finish. Sseko is a wonderful company – producing excellent products, and giving women the skills and resources to live their dreams.

After leaving Sseko, I meet the tireless and inspirational Beatrice (http://worldpulse.com/user/6478). Less than two years ago, Beatrice founded Rural Girl Child Mentorship (RGCM Uganda), a project under her Pearl Community Empowerment Foundation (http://pce-foundation.org). RGCM is a one to one, mentor to mentee global mentorship project that helps poor rural Ugandan girls attend school. Each girl is connected with a mentor who pays her school fees and nurtures her vision for a bright future. RGCM chooses the poorest, most vulnerable girls from the Tororo and Buteleja Districts of Eastern Uganda, where Beatrice herself grew up.

Beatrice took me to visit the three schools her girls attend, Muyenga High School and St. Noa Girls School in Kampala, and New Horizons Secondary and Vocational School in Mukono. Beatrice brings them from the village to the city in order to give them a different perspective and expose them to a life different from what they know. The goal is to educate and empower them so that they return to their communities to make their own contributions to breaking the cycle of poverty.

Beatrice’s girls are all bright and beautiful, with potential limited only by circumstance. Currently, sixty-seven girls are enrolled in school through RGCM. However, the organization has over 1600 pending applications. RGCM needs more mentors and support to give these girls the opportunities they deserve.

The weekend culminated with a very special gathering. Beatrice and I meet with six members of the World Pulse community in Kampala. Several others were prevented from attending due to the traffic jams caused by the Uganda/Angola World Pulse qualifying match (Uganda won 2-1!). Although our group was small, it was mighty. I organized this meeting because I not only wanted to meet my World Pulse sisters in Uganda, but to bring these women together since most of them had never meet each other. We spoke about our work and our goals. The Ugandan sisters expressed a desire to form a tight network of World Pulse members in Uganda in order to use their combined resources to affect positive change. They set a goal of organizing regular World Pulse meetings in Kampala, and encouraging members in other parts of the country to do the same. I am happy to support and help them implement their plan.

I am in awe of the strength and determination of my World Pulse Ugandan sisters. I am inspired by their passion and dedication to empowering women and girls. I felt humbled in their presence, and resolve to increase my own efforts here in Uganda, and when I return home.

(Photos to come when I have a faster internet connection!)

This story was written for World Pulse’s Girls Transform the World Digital Action Campaign.

World Pulse believes that women's stories, recommendations, and collective rising leadership can—and will—bring girls greater access to education which will transform their lives, their families, and communities. The Girls Transform Campaign elicits insightful content from young women on the ground, strengthens their confidence as women, and ensures that influencers and powerful institutions hear their stories.
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Comments

Hi Julie!
It was a great honour having you in my house and visiting with our girls! You left happiness wherever you went.
Feedback like this is a proof of what is on the ground. Many people (who have not yet joined/visited with this project)will not believe that their money is not 100% invested in the projects that they donate for.
If only you had time, you would have visited with our grassroots community, to see for yourself how lives and attitudes are changing towards girl education, incomes improving, fruits and vegetables planted, the corn and beans close to harvest... Like you said you would return, we welcome you and many others who might be interested!

Thank you for connecting us WP sisters in Uganda. Although just a few of us turned up, you surely made us proud. I instantly got connected with my sisters as though we had been friends forever. We learned and shared so much and we believe WP sisters in this country will support each other all round. I just realised that each of us hand a very unique angle, which can benefit this country if we worked tiogether.
Uganda beating Angola in World Cup soccer was good news for Uganda. The joy was squared that day.
Enjoy your stay in Ddegeya and entirely in Uganda for the rest of the weeks/months you have left!

Best,
Beatrice

I believe everybody has the potential to live a better life. Given the Opportunity, Education and Motivation ANYONE can become someone admirable. Nobody is a NOBODY, everybody is SOMEBODY.

jacollura's picture

Thank you, Beatrice!

I will visit the grassroots community on my next visit. I promise!
And, as for the WP sisters, this is just the beginning!

Lorraine Salmon's picture

Thank you Julie and Bea!

Julie!

Thank you for your visit and for this great summary of your travels and of our special Beatrice. I being only one of the many sponsors, am thrilled to have you there to see Bea's work up close and to meet "our girls". Bea keeps us constantly informed on FB and the letters we receive are beautiful. Having you there to witness this great effort (the girls, Bea, the sponsors) is a gift to all of us.

Thank you so much - I will use the shortcut to your above article to show others the impact they can make and the community they can join!

Travel safely.

Best,
Lorraine

jacollura's picture

Thanks for your comment!

Lorraine, please do share this report with others. Thanks for your support!

jacollura's picture

World Cup, not World Pulse!

Of course, I meant to write that the Uganda Cranes were competing for a spot in the World Cup, to World Pulse. I had World Pulse on my brain!

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