Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The real measure of success

We have been trying to find a way to measure the success of the women’s income generating group over time and therefore have come up with intake forms, conducted needs assessments and set in place a very organized system to monitor the success of the program.

On Monday, many of the women stopped to share with us their individual stories of how life has changed since joining The Shanti Uganda Women’s Income Generating Group.

In a town where paper beads had no presence, there is now a ‘beading buzz’. The community leaders have stopped in to visit the project [these are usually men who are shocked by the women and their very successful new business!], women in the village are buying the jewellery from the women in our group and in addition to the jewellery we sell in North America, they are busy planning ways to sell their jewellery to the local market here in Uganda.

There are stories of saving money for school fees, of investing in making house improvements and of searching for additional ways to earn an income. Lydia has bought her paper-cutting machine and for a small fee charges the other women who do not want to wait in line to use the machine we bought them at the clinic, will cut their paper for them. Ivone has shared with us that after putting her money aside from jewellery sales, she has been able to purchase the materials to cement her dirt floor, which will reduce the amount of bugs, provide a much cleaner place to eat and sleep for her family and most of all give her a sense of pride! Grace, who’s son is currently in school has decided that she is going to use some of her beading money to pay the transportation costs so that she can visit him – she knows that playing an active role in his education will improve his ability to succeed!

And so above all of the procedures we’ve put in place to monitor success, we’ve found that the best way is to listen to stories, watch the twinkle in their eyes and hold their hands as they proudly stand tall – for they are not just women with HIV, but strong, courageous, creative women who have lost loved ones, raised grandchildren, been child mothers, lived in IDP camps and now know what it means to move on, to believe and to step forward in life.

Although each bead that she rolls carries with it her story
Every woman has walked a different path
And now together they all make beads
With love
From Uganda.

For more information about the women or to learn how you can hold your own jewellery event, send us an email! shantiuganda@yahoo.ca

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