Pastor Ivan’s twin sister Jane Mukalazi is an elder in the Revival Church and co-ordinator of the women’s project. The aim of the group is “to empower widows and the needy women in Matugga with practical skills and giving them small funds as individuals or groups for income generation”.
Relatively small amounts of money can start up a project for an individual or group of women. Once the initial resources are provided the major input is the skill and hard labour of the women. A number of different types of project have been established including: raising pigs, making bricks, farming, craft making and catering.
Brick Project – There are currently 7 women in this project. The women work together to make bricks from soil on their own land. Wet soil is formed into bricks using a wooden mould, the wet bricks are lined up on the ground and covered with straw. Before the bricks can be used they need to be fired. This is done by stacking the bricks and setting a charcoal fire under them which bakes them, usually overnight. Buying charcoal to fire the bricks is the costly part of the process.
Crafts Project – There are currently 12 women in this project. The women work together or alone in their own homes making good quality jewellery and crafts. New members are taught the craft making skills. Large quantities of jewellery and crafts are bought at the local price by support team members when they visit in April and September each year. This gives the women an immediate income to re-invest in materials and rent a shop in Matugga to sell items locally. Items are sold by support team members in the UK at a higher price and the difference is sent to Jane. Whoever buys the jewellery and crafts is directly supporting widows and needy women and their children in Matugga.
Catering Project – A group of 16 women would like to set up a catering project including running a cafe in Matugga and through it win orders to do the catering at big events like introductions and weddings. The large amount of catering equipment that was sent in the 40′ container may help this new project get off the ground.
Current Needs and Challenges – The projects require relatively small initial or periodic outlay to become established eg to buy charcoal to fire bricks and craft materials. Many of the projects return money which is used as capital to enable others to start similar projects. However, there are a number of challenges that threaten the success of the projects. Affording to feed pigs and pay for any treatment they need until they produce a litter or are ready for slaughter is beyond the means of many women. Paying a small rent on land used to produce bricks or crops until the bricks can be fired and sold or the crops harvested and sold, is a struggle for others. Renting a small shop or stalls to ensure that crafts or produce can be sold in good market areas is another ongoing challenge.
Despite the challenges, through these projects many women are supporting themselves and their families. By donating 5% of their income to the centre, Jane’s committee can ensure that many more women can start up income generating projects and that a fund is maintained for helping other needy people in the community; for example paying for Mrs Masoke, a widow now in her 90th year, to travel to Butabika hospital to get drugs for her two mentally ill adult children who are totally dependent on her.