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Posts tagged ‘Uganda’

When She Was 12

When we were 12, you and I probably spent August shopping for backpacks, notebooks, and markers to get ready for school.

When she was 12, Prossy Mukisa was married off for a dowry payment. For years, Prossy dreamed of bettering her future, and ensuring that her four children would be able to attend school. Saving her wages from working in a local bakery, she opened her own grocery store. Later that year, her husband walked out on her and their four children. When Prossy took him back, he infected her with HIV/AIDS. Ill and unable to rely on her husband’s support, Prossy could not expand her business.

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But the next spring, Prossy’s life took a more hopeful turn. After a friend told her about FINCA Uganda’s Kazinga Village Bank, Prossy took out a loan of $50 and transformed her shop into a music store, buying instruments to rent out to musicians for local events. Prossy now also employs three musicians who play at parties and she was able to send her children back to school.

This school year, support hard-working women like Prossy – donate today, and stand with dedicated women and children around the world.

Sincerely,

Soledad Gompf
Vice President, FINCA

Real Life Superwomen

Dear Gabriel,

This summer, we will ooh and aah over comic book heroes in the movies – supermen and superwomen who use their fantastical powers to affect the lives of others, for good or for evil.

While we know these superheroes are fictional characters, there are, in fact, heroes walking among us. Meet FINCA’s Superwomen, the next generation of superheroes.

Catarina Yolanda Yac de Leon (Guatemala) – Born without a right arm, Catarina was taunted by other children who called her “good for nothing.” As she grew older, Catarina began making beaded belts to help earn additional income for her family. With a FINCA loan, Catarina has learned from other entrepreneurs, been able to buy more materials, and has sold almost all the belts she has made to date!

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Berna Naiga (Uganda) – Berna has been a rock of support for her family. Living with HIV/AIDS has not kept her from supporting 10 orphaned nieces and nephews, children of siblings who have died of AIDS. Thanks to a FINCA loan, Berna has maximized her many entrepreneurial talents, from raising cattle, to running small businesses, to managing rental properties. All while caring for her children!

While these women may argue that they’re “normal,” their strength of character and wills of iron in the face of adversity prove otherwise. FINCA is proud to stand with the next generation of superheroes – women around the world who are lifting themselves out of poverty.

However, no superhero is an island – everyone needs someone in his or her corner. Root for superwomen like Catarina and Berna today. Give a FINCA loan, and fly high with modern-day heroes.

Sincerely,

Soledad Gompf
Vice President
FINCA

15 Years of Hard Work

Dear Gabriel,

In rural central Uganda, a lone woman makes her way though an expanse of prickly green leaves, below a hazy blue sky. Guided by instinct and experience, she spots what she is looking for – a perfectly ripe pineapple.

To you and me, a pineapple is something purchased in stores or from fruit stands, to be diced into a sweet snack or blended into a beverage to enjoy with friends.

For Madina Namanda, this pineapple represents 15 years of hard work; nearly 50 FINCA loan cycles; and a drive to do better for herself and her four children.

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Beginning with a US $40 loan, Madina has worked her way up the agricultural ladder. She currently runs a 12-acre pineapple plantation, a 3-acre coffee plantation, and a poultry farm, and she is installing a clean water distribution site on her property, for her neighbors to use. With so much work, Madina shrugs off the loss of some of her pineapples to marauding monkeys, who bite off big chunks of golden sweetness from some of the fruit on the edges of her farm.

Working with FINCA clients has given me the opportunity to see how clients like Madina can take a small loan, and turn it into a new life for themselves and a boon for their communities. With access to credit, Madina has been able to boost her family’s income and personal savings – they now own their own land and home, and have sent two children to university. At 45 years of age, Madina can even consider retirement, a rarity in cash-strapped Uganda.

The perseverance, business acumen, and entrepreneurial spirit of women like Madina are among the chief reasons why I come to work every morning. FINCA clients are individuals who merit our support, and who are not afraid of hard work to lift themselves and their families out of poverty.

Help us support entrepreneurial women and men like Madina; donate to FINCA today.

Sincerely,

Soledad Gompf
Vice President FINCA

Uganda Bill to “Kill the Gays”

Gabriel –

The speaker of the Ugandan parliament has promised she will pass the so-called “Kill the Gays” bill in the next two weeks — she called it a “Christmas gift” for the Ugandan people. The bill would legalize the death penalty for LGBT people and people with HIV or AIDS.

Uganda experts say that one way to stop this bill is to get pressure from banks that have significant resources invested in the country, such as Citibank and Barclays.

Citibank and Barclays together have hundreds of millions of dollars invested in Uganda and wield significant influence in the country, just as banking lobbyists wield influence with Congress in the US. Citibank and Barclays speaking out against the “Kill the Gays” bill might be the best — and only — chance to stop it.

Collin Burton is a Citibank customer who is also gay. Collin started a petition on Change.org asking Citibank and Barclays to speak out against the “Kill the Gays” bill. Click here to sign Collin’s petition right now.

Citibank and Barclays are both big supporters of LGBT rights for their own employees, yet they invest money with a government that is threatening to execute LGBT people. “I expect Citibank and Barclays to live up to the values of equality and fairness, not just list them on their websites,” Collin says.

If Citibank and Barclays speak out against the “Kill the Gays” bill, Ugandan legislators will see that they are risking the business relationships that keep their government afloat.

Click here to sign Collin’s petition asking Citibank and Barclays to issue strong statements condemning Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” bill. The bill could come up for a vote any day, so swift action is essential.

Thanks for being a change-maker,

– Mark Anthony and the Change.org team

Uganda Village Banking

From FINCA (Foundation for International Community Assistance)

Celebrating 20 Years of Village Banking in Uganda!

FINCA Uganda, the first FINCA Subsidiary launched on the African continent in 1992 is celebrating 20 years of providing life-changing financial services to both urban and rural clients throughout the country. So it was fitting that, as a show of appreciation, FINCA Uganda returned to communities in which it operates, especially its inaugural community of Jinja, by providing clients and their families with access to free health screenings and hands-on care.

So far about 10 of such events have been carried out at its branches in partnership with AAR Health Services, where they have provided, among other services, voluntary HIV/AIDs testing and counseling, body mass checkups, blood pressure testing, nutrition counseling, family planning methods and HIV/AIDs control measures, as well as general health consultations, all at no cost. The health screenings have been open to FINCA Uganda’s clients and their families as well as to entire communities.

FINCA Uganda’s Marketing Manager, Simon Ahimbisibwe, said that Jinja holds a special place in FINCA Uganda’s history as it was the location of the subsidiary’s first branch.

“At FINCA Uganda, we believe that a healthy body makes for healthy banking; that is why we brought these services to the people free of charge,” Mr. Ahimbisibwe said. “We will continue to engage in such services that impact the lives of our clients positively, especially as these services are sometimes not easily accessed, mainly due to logistical challenges”.

FINCA Uganda currently serves more than 54,400 clients through a wide variety of products and services including Village Bank Group Loans, Solidarity (Small Group) Loans, Individual Loans, Local Currency Loans, Savings, Money Transfers and Insurance. More than 3,000 Village Banking groups can be found throughout its service areas, and loans average $395. FINCA Uganda employs more than 570 men and women who mainly come from the local communities, and is recognized as one of the local financial services industry’s top employers.

FINCA Uganda holds the distinction of being the first Microfinance Deposit Taking Institution (MDI) to be licensed by the Ugandan Central Bank in 2004, and is able to offer services that include savings, loans and money transfers at all of its 27 branches country wide.

FINCA Uganda also holds the distinction as being one of FINCA International’s primary programs to pilot new products and services, and has successfully implemented ATM services, a solar energy loan product, and youth-focused savings programs including Smart Start and StarGirl. Both savings programs target youth aged 10-24, providing education about the importance of savings as well as additional life skills such as soap and candle making and other handicrafts.

Ugandan Lesbian Awarded

From the LGBT Rights Cause.

Major Human Rights Award Goes to Ugandan Lesbian by Paul Canning
October 17, 2011

Besides the Nobel Peace Prize, the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders is the main award of the global human rights movement.

It is a unique collaboration among ten of the world’s leading human rights organizations.

The 2011 prize was presented to Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera in Geneva October 13 by High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Deputy Kyung-wha Kang.

The ceremony included a very moving film about Nabagesera’s work made by True Hero films.

Nabagesera is a Ugandan LGBT activist and founder/Executive Director of Freedom and Roam Uganda.

She became engaged in LGBT rights in Uganda when she was just 21, and has since played a leading role.

She told Kathambi Kinoti of AWID in 2010:

Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG) is the only exclusively lesbian, bisexual and transgender organization in Uganda. It was started by three lesbian-identified women on July 4, 2003 in a bar which at the time the media frequently called a lesbian bar. Many lesbian women who heard the news started coming to the bar to hang out and make new friends.

Earlier, in April 2003 we had been approached by a group of men who claimed to have a lesbian organization by the name Makerere University Students Lesbians Association. When we asked them where the lesbians were and why it was led by men, they said that the women were “shy.” Later we did some research and learnt that these men were not university students nor did any such organization exist.

An accountant by profession, she has excelled in human rights advocacy and obtained a certificate in human rights law. For the past four years she has been speaking at international forums highlighting the plight of lesbian women in her country. But perhaps more importantly, Kasha has had the courage to appear on national television in Uganda, becoming one of the first lesbians to openly speak out.

She has consistently invoked international covenants that Uganda has ratified and the Government has failed to implement.

In 2007, she was brutally harassed at the World Social Forum in Nairobi after she spoke in front of 60,000 people about the respect and tolerance of homosexuals in the world. Later for appearing in the media she was again heckled, threatened and attacked. Since then she has been shifting from house to house, afraid to stay long in the same place. Police and security forces regularly stop and intimidate her.

In 2009, she and two other activists held a press conference with the message ‘we do not recruit!’ The organization the Family Life Network (FLN), which receives substantial American evangelical backing, had been claiming that LGBT groups were receiving vast sums to pay Ugandans to become gay.

On January 26, 2011, one of her colleagues, gay activist David Kato, was murdered following the publication of a “gay list” by the tabloid Rolling Stone calling for their hanging; in this black list, Kasha Jacqueline’s name also appears.

She challenged the homophobia frenzy in the media in the high court of Uganda where she and two others successfully sued Rolling Stone.

Read complete story, with videos and photos, at CARE2 Make A Difference.

Erik Is Not Alone

Erik’s story was written by Lukasz Zielonka for ROP Stories, one of the sites for ROP Center for Street Children and the Rwandan Orphan’s Project.

Erik’s Story

Erik sat on the plastic chair and looked deep into my translator’s eyes. Late afternoon light brightens every detail of his face, lost somewhere in the shadows of this tiny, little room.

Erik NYANKURU is just ten years old, but the way he looks at me is so mature that he could be one of us. A life’s worth of struggle and sadness condensed into a short, ten year life.

He was born in Gitarama, in south-west Rwanda.

It all began when he was seven. His mother had AIDS. Apparently she had an affair with a neighbor who passed the disease to her. When his father, Maurice Niyonkuru, found out about her sickness and about her lover he decided to kill the man – Erik doesn’t remember his name. Maurice had a very bad reputation in the area. He was ruthless and he liked to fight. His mother’s lover was afraid for his own life and finally left to Uganda.

Every day Erik was getting up very early to take care of his mother, washing and feeding her even when she was screaming in unbelievable pain.

She was the one who he remembers the most. She was always with him and his two older brothers when he was younger. She played with them, she taught him how to read and write, because they couldn’t afford to go to school.

One night he had a dream about his beloved mother. She was lying in her room screaming, coughing and calling his name but every time when he reached her she was dead. He woke up all of the sudden and ran to her bed. She was still breathing. Next day she seemed to feel better and hopeful, but soon after she seemingly gave up her fight with the disease. Erik believes she was waiting for the angels from heaven. She didn’t wait long.

After her death Maurice, Erik’s father, was accused of participating in the genocide by a Gacaca, the traditional community court of Rwanda. The tribal court issued a sentence of 15 years in prison for him. He was found responsible for many deaths and convicted as being one of the most enthusiastic killers.

Erik decided to leave Gitarama along with his neighbor Charles to Kigali. His older brothers stayed at home and since that day he has never seen or spoken to them. He was too busy taking care of himself.

His first week in the Rwandan capital was spent with Charlie’s family, but after that they told him to leave. He had no place to go, no place to hide and no one to talk to. He sold all his clothes, covering himself only with an old, dirty rug. He spent all his money on food.

Very quickly he became friends with Jean-Paul, a boy at the same age, who was very experienced in living on the street. He belonged to a group of young boys and Erik was very happy to join them.

They were trying to forget about the misery of their lives, and very easily did so with easy access to alcohol, cigarettes and drugs (he often inhaled the fumes of diesel engines). They were stealing charcoal from people’s houses and they were trying to sell it for any price. Soon they got into trouble with the police. They were arrested, but Jean-Paul, Erik and three more boys were able to escape from the police truck.

After five months on the streets he was well respected among the other kids, ‘trained’ and well versed in the area – especially the busy, dangerous Nyabugogo bus station. This doesn’t change the fact that he and the other boys were still spending nights sleeping in bushes or under the bridges.

The Rwandan Orphans Project Center for Street Children in Nyabugogo was well known to them – it was in their neighborhood. One day Erik was passing next to this orphanage, when suddenly someone called to him and later introduced himself. He was a staff member of the ROP Center. Erik was seduced by possibility of receiving regular meals and had agreed to join this facility. Initially it was very hard for him, but after the whole orphanage was moved to Kanombe he found peace and solace. Now he is a happy boy and he has hope – something he has never experienced before.

The hopelessness of everyday life has ended and as Erik says ‘I want to live to show other kids that life does not end up on the street’.

MORE STORIES

Rwandan Orphan’s Project

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