Tuesday, February 1, 2011
"What, in your opinion, would help your group the most?" That's the last question Fount of Mercy always asks when doing demographic research. Learning other details about the women we work with is important, too. When we know their age, how far they come to class, how many children they have, we can support their work even better. But it's the women themselves who often know best.
Often, when we ask this question, we hear "more training!" Or, "more sewing machines!" But last summer, in Bulabandi, we heard another answer: "capital." These women wanted a small stake with which to start their own business.
In response, Fount of Mercy's vocational development program purchased 25 six-yard pieces of fabric: one piece for each woman. We left at the end of the summer expecting that each woman would make a dress or a few bags.
Boy, were we wrong! Five months later, when Tara, our Vocational Development Director, returned to Uganda in February, she found that almost half of the women had already started thriving businesses. Twelve of them had huge bundles of fabric and were actively sewing anything you can imagine: from baby clothes, to women's skirts, to school uniforms.
"I took the piece you gave us and we shared it with each other," one of the women told Tara. "Then, I made some baby clothes and walked around my village until I sold them. Then I used the money to buy another piece. I have been increasing like this, all because of that first piece."
Written By Tara Hawks, Fount of Mercy's Vocational Development Director