Girls Get Skills Program
A Project of The Real Uganda
The Real Uganda’s Girls Get Skills practical skills training program was launched in September 2021 with much enthusiasm from the mothers and daughters of Lugacraft Kiteza Rural Women’s Group, in Buikwe District, Uganda.
It ran successfully for a period of 5 months, directly impacting 130 young women and girls. It ended when Uganda’s schools re-opened after almost 2 years of closure, due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The impact of COVID-19 continues to be felt the world over. While most strict lockdown conditions have been relaxed, many countries are experiencing second and third waves of viral spread. Daily habits are simply not what they used to be. Face masking and social distancing has become the new normal. Vaccine programs are successful in the global north (The global south is doing what it can).
As of September 6th, 2021, there have been 120,847 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Uganda. The cases are largely found in the Kampala Metropolitan Area. The Ugandan government tests approximately 3,000 people each day. There have been registered 3,068 deaths, they have vaccinated 1,476,526 people, and they currently have 449 active cases in hospitals. Uganda is managing their second wave of this virus (reference: Uganda Ministry of Health, daily Twitter updates).
Uganda’s COVID numbers had remained low compared with the wider world because their borders were closed to passenger travel from March to October 2020. Since then, it has been up to Ugandans themselves to limit the spread of this virus within Uganda. Hand washing, face masking, and social distancing are highly encouraged and even mandated in many enclosed places.
Why Uganda Needs More Support Amid the Pandemic
While Uganda has largely avoided sickness from COVID-19, it has not fared well socially and economically due to harsh lockdown restrictions. While COVID is mainly found in the city, the entire country is encumbered with a myriad of restrictions to help slow the viral spread.
Schools, churches, and community gatherings of over 20 people have been stopped since March 2020. This has broken down community and family solidarity that otherwise protects young women. Rolling closures of shops, open air markets, and public transportation greatly impact the ability of average Ugandans to earn a living. Family providers are idle, staying closer to home, feeling powerless, and often turning to drink.
As a result, domestic violence and teen pregnancy are trapping young women in a new pandemic. The cycle of dependence and poverty is renewed and deepened. A number of international organizations have echoed this and created their own interventions, for example Global Girls Glow, WFD, and We Effect.
Since 2005, The Real Uganda has partnered with a number of Ugandan community-based organizations that work to empower women and girls. We aim to create financial freedom, build self-esteem, and break the cycle of poverty. Pre-COVID-19, The Real Uganda has found success through numerous programs, including but not limited to: offering scholarships to students, giving microloans for adults to start small businesses, securing apprenticeships, providing trainings on life skills (like basic accounting or how to make reusable menstrual pads), purchasing income generating equipment (like sewing machines) and school supplies
Kiteza Women and Girls Group – Skills Training Initiative
The continued impact of COVID-19 on income generation and formal education opportunities has increased the burden on The Real Uganda’s local partners, so they aim to expand their capacity to reach more young people in new ways.
Using existing infrastructure and expertise, The Real Uganda would like to raise $5,930 USD to bring young mothers (and their family members) into our community based programs. They’ll not only get practical training, but receive appropriate inputs allowing them to start earning right away!
The Real Uganda has been working with the Kiteza Women and Girls group since 2012. Among other activities, they have helped them lease land for communal gardening and secure innovative handicraft lessons. Their colorful baskets are made from banana fiber and recycled rice and sugar sacks. They’re marketable in both local and tourist craft markets. Pre-COVID-19, they even had a thriving events management company that supplied tents, chairs, and catering services for weddings and graduations in their community.
Since foreign tourism, local area household incomes, and all social gatherings over 20 people have been banned since March 2020, their earning capacity has been greatly reduced. Currently, the women earn a subsistence income through communal gardening (mostly spinach type greens) and handicraft making (jewelry, baskets, and handbags).
Their pre-teen and teenage daughters will likely not return to formal classroom education after being away from school for almost two years. Furthermore, over 50 area girls under 16 have become pregnant since 2021 began.
The Kiteza women would like to build their daughters’ skills and help everyone earn better money by investing more time and money in their gardens. Without this transformational program, many girls will face a life of subsistence farming, early marriage, and more babies they’ll struggle to care for.
How Skills Training Can Help Young Girls Grow
The Real Uganda has identified 89 girls ready and willing to dive into their futures! Here’s how The Real Uganda intends help the Kiteza Women and Girls Group by providing skills trainings:
1) Intensive hairdressing workshops: No matter how little money a woman has, she always has a little for her hair. Hair stylists can market themselves door to door, without the need for a salon or formal job.
2) Cake and cookie baking instruction: Cakes and cookies are popular and affordable local snacks. They can be sold to shops wholesale or pedaled in the street for direct sale. Once lockdown restrictions are relaxed and parties can resume, they’ll be ready for a very willing market!
3) Modern farming techniques: Currently, seeds are broadcast rather than properly spaced and allowed to mature naturally with no help. Yields could be increased with a little tweaking. Proper seeds, efficient gardening techniques, and natural fertilizer use will help these young women build their family’s income.
The Real Uganda aims to get started immediately and run the program between September and December 2021. Follow-up with the girls and trainers will be done in early 2022. Pending success, and after any recommended adjustments, The Real Uganda would love to either deepen the program in Kiteza or expand it to include more girls in other villages. The possibilities are endless!
Girls Get Skills is temporarily on hold as The Real Uganda pivots to new interventions that support young women in Uganda. Most of the girls involved with Girls Get Skills have returned to formal classroom education since Uganda's schools re-opened after COVID-19 lockdowns. The Real Uganda envisions a program that continues to support young women in skills training, menstrual and reproductive health education and support, and improving self-esteem and decision-making practices.
For less than $70 per girl, you can help The Real Uganda support women and girls in rural Uganda build a better future for themselves. Donate now or share their mission to help them grow this program and support more girls.