Beads that Empower

Early this year, Sylvia Nakazibwe was among 84 women who attended an interest meeting for a new women empowerment program Empower a Child was launching in the village of Zirobwe. This program aimed to economically empower women with life skills so that they can help support their families.

After 6 months of intensive training on handcrafting paper beaded jewelry, the number of women making paper beads trickled down from 84 to 9. Sylvia, now the chairperson of the paper bead group, shared her experience of how the program has changed her life and her family.

“At the beginning of the program when we had training, it seemed tough with having to learn the paper bead making process. I wasn’t earning anything from the program yet, because it was just a training process. Many women quit. I stayed with the hope of knowing things will get better as we were promised by the organization.”

Loren Thomas, one of our returning volunteers went to Uganda this past summer to build on the program by teaching women brand new, original designs that have been selling at various craft fairs in the U.S. since October.

Loren commented on her experience with Sylvia, “While in Uganda working with the women, Sylvia’s work really stood out among the rest. Her dedication to detail, timeliness, and positive attitude made her a huge asset to our team. With this being a completely new program, all of the women had to learn how to make these designs from scratch. Sylvia was able to catch on to what we were looking for with ease, and she quickly became a natural leader for her peers and friends within the group.”

Currently, the bead-making group can make up to 300 crafts on average in a week. The orders made are fully paid for upfront and the women get to share the money equally amongst their group.

Sylvia recalls, “It was all smiles the very first time we were paid. The long wait paid off and that was the beginning of change in our lives. The organization even provided us with financial training to enable us to be good stewards our finances in a way that will transform our lives.”

“We got an inspiring opportunity from Wilson Kabeera, the Empower a Child Executive Director, who encouraged us to save at least 50% of our earnings and the rest we could spend on other monthly necessities for our family. This idea was adopted by the group and we have saved up to 3 million Uganda shillings in just 3 months.’

The women decided on individual businesses they were going to do and the majority of them have begun on a small scale. This is all happening as they continue to fulfill jewelry orders and save of 50% of their income.

“This concept is something that we appreciate and will continue to carry on.” Sylvia states, “I, for one, I am an animal farmer and I chose to purchase three pigs that I have topped on the two pigs I had before. I am more than grateful to this job because it has boosted me with the ability to buy pigs, which is a good farming business to deal with.”

Loren stated, “We are so proud of Sylvia and all of the progress she has made along the way, and for all of the help and hard work she has dedicated to making this program so great!”

Sylvia is a married woman and has 4 children that she cares for with pride and joy. She is grateful to God for how He has elevated the women in the village through this new program.

“I have no children sponsored by Empower a Child,” Sylvia says, “but by God’s grace I have been able to pay school fees for my children who study at Empowered Leaders Academy. During the last school term, I was among the very first parents to pay fees, which gave me great of joy.”

“The beads program has enabled me to support my family very much just like other women. We are gradually transforming our families because of a reasonable pay we get weekly, which is uncommon in the village.”

Sylvia goes on to describe the tough lifestyle in the village, “If someone needs money for a specific need, they have to work on someone’s farm. Payments are made in installments, which wouldn’t be of help at the time you need the money. But, through this program, we are receiving a better paycheck as a result of our hard work. This makes us very grateful to Empower a Child.”

by Victor Anecho