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Old Groups and New - Women's Testimonies.

The penultimate day in Kasese was spent visiting six women's groups to offer encouragement and to hear some wonderful testimonies.

Three of the groups were from the Kikonzo area around the library and three at St Peter's Church in Nyakasanga.

Mike giving the women a word at the library.

One of the new groups here at the library (St Steven's group) are on the bottom tier of poverty. They live close to the Queen Elizabeth National Park and had been stealing firewood from the park; not only against the law but very dangerous. Stealing wood is condemned by the rangers of course and these women were chased off by the police. The women have children they need to support so they accepted AWU's invitation to form a group and to give up stealing. They have been together for 8 months and have just had their first loan. They trade in onions and tomatoes.

St Stifano (Steven) group

Lucy (above), who had just lost her husband 2 weeks previously, said "I had nothing to do and was just sitting at home. Through the support of Amaha We Uganda I now sell tomatoes in the market. I praise God because with AWU I can support my orphans.

Jennifer (no photo) said, "I was also at home. A member from Thuyihimbe group shared with me about the AWU groups and brought Amos to meet me. I began saving and was given a loan to buy a bag of cassava flour which I sold on. With the profit I could feed the children. I began with 1 sack but now I can buy 2. People come to my house to buy cassava."

Thuyihimbe group

Thuyihimbe Women's Group has been together for two years and is a "mother" group to St Steven's. They began training St Steven's group then brought them to AWU. Amos challenged Thuyihimbe Group to train more and multiply the groups so the whole village of Kikonzo would be trained.

Harriet (left) said, "I was not able to get school fees to send my children to school. Because of my loan from AWU I am able to sell second hand clothes in the market. The profits pay the school fees. I have children in S1 through to S4."

Jane (right) said, "We made a group of 20 women. We were taught to save a little and we could see it growing. We shared out our first loan of 500,000 UGX and I began a business of selling charcoal. I can now buy 20 sacks with my own money and I make a profit. I have repaid my loan."

Amenge Ni Mani (Knowledge is strength) women's group

Amenge Ni Mani Women's group was only 1 month old when we met them. They said that when there is shade they will meet in the library grounds. They mobilised themselves after hearing about Amaha We Uganda and went to speak to the team. The women accepted the way AWU works and now study the word of prayer and have become our newest group. They are of mixed denominations and faiths.

Jane (left) said, "We are only a month old but now we are having hope"

Sarah (right) said, "I am giving thanks . I met other ladies who had nothing to do because they didn't work. They said they would stand with me. I have started a small business selling obundu baskets. I know we will do well with Amaha We Uganda."

The three groups above are from St Peter's. The first photo is of the Dorica Group, the second is Namara Group and the third Nyamwamba group.

Dorica and Namara have been together for 7 years (although there is always some movement within groups) and Nyamwamba has been together for 4 months.

Naomi in Dorica group (top left) said," I take a loan to buy onions which I sell for profit. I can then pay the school fees for my children."

Pridas in Dorica Group (top middle) said, "AWU helped in many things. I had loans from AWU which meant I could buy tomatoes and egg plants which I sell. The profits pay for food to eat and my children's school fees. I was able to give my child with problems in P7 a business to make chapati."

Miele in Namara Group (top right) said, "AWU is not only teaching us business skills but teaching us to grow spiritually as well. Each meeting starts with the bible. Many in Namara group are widows so we support each other. We can now pay our offertory in church."

Joras in Namara group (bottom left) said, "On our own we would not be sustainable. We meet together and read God's Word. It gives us courage and power to see how to grow spiritually."

Jennifer in Nyamwamba group (bottom middle) said, "After the 4 months we got a loan. I am making great steps forward. I trade in second hand clothes. My business is growing so I am able to keep up with school fees. The loan was used to develop my business. I have children in Nursery top class, P6 and S3."

Doreen in Nyamwamba (bottom right) said, " I am a young mother with a child in nursery. I hope that the loans from AWU will help me. The interest is cheaper."

I hope the testimonies show just how important the women's group's revolving loan is. When AWU can't loan the money because the pot is empty, the women will go to loan sharks who charge exorbitant interest.

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