Masese Women's Beading Circle
In the community of Masese, where many Ugandans desperately want to work, there are simply no jobs. Unsanitary living conditions, malnutrition, disease, and hopelessness swallow their dreams.
To empower women and provide hope for their families, Amazima Ministries initiated a self-sustaining vocational program for mothers in the Masese community by creating handmade, unique, Ugandan magazine necklaces and bracelets. Each bead is made from recycled magazine paper, threaded along with mini glass beads, and sealed with a shiny, varnished finish. Every woman in the program makes 20 beautiful necklaces or bracelets each week, to be sold in the United States. Because of their new jobs, these women have been able to turn away from work that was harmful and dangerous for themselves and their families, such as prostitution, alcohol brewing, and trash picking. They are now able to feed their own families, send their children to school, purchase plots of land and build homes. It is a blessing to watch these women, who in the past could only focus on the daily survival of their own family, now have the ability to care for and support their neighbors and community members that are in need. Amazima's Director, Katie Davis, goes to Masese once a week to meet with these women, to build relationships, lead them in a Bible study, purchase their necklaces, and assist in giving them money management training.
One of our favorite things about the Beading Program is watching the women experience the joy and dignity of providing not only for their own families, but also for over 1200 students each day through the Masese feeding program! The women know and are proud of the fact that their hard work is making a difference in their own home and community.
Through these vocational programs, Amazima Ministries hopes to instill the will and desire to restore dignity, and empower the Ugandan people to work their way out of poverty.
Farming God's Way
Although Uganda has seen a lot of urbanization in the past few years, the majority of Ugandans are still subsistence farmers — working tirelessly to provide only enough to feed their families. Uganda's two rainy seasons and plentiful sunshine should mean that these families have the ability to grow plenty of food to sustain them throughout the year. Unfortunately, poor farming practices and loss of motivation has left many fields in poor condition, and families are struggling to find enough to eat.
In January 2012, Amazima had the opportunity to host a unique training seminar at our land in Buziika called Farming God's Way (FGW). For three days, Chris Sperling, a certified trainer in FGW practices, came to Buziika and instructed 12 local farmers in the methods taught by Farming God's Way. FGW is not an organization, but rather a resource to teach improved and sustainable conservation agriculture methods to local farmers based on Biblical principles. FGW practices not only drastically improve water retention, but over time, inject critical biological matter back into the soil. The average Ugandan farmer produces about 680 lbs of maize per acre. Utilizing FGW techniques, that same farmer can produce over 6,600 lbs of maize per acre.
The training included planting a 400 square foot demonstration garden. All of the participants were able to practice the skills they had been taught in this demonstration garden. Amazima Ministries staff members have continued to conduct follow—up visits with the class participants to see how they are implementing the conservation agriculture techniques they were taught.
The first small demonstration garden was a success, and so in March 2012, Amazima Ministries began the cultivation of a new quarter acre field. In this field scale garden, FGW methods have been implemented and we have since harvested two sets of crops. Field scale farming allows Amazima Ministries to train our workers, as well as serving as a demonstration to our students and visitors, and allows for sustainability. Our hope is that the crops grown on Amazima Ministries fields will be harvested and used to supply lunch for our sponsorship children at the Saturday Fellowship gatherings.
In August 2012, a refresher class was taught to the class participants that were at the seminar in January. During this class, participants planted a 400 square foot "well-watered" garden. During the planting of the well-watered garden, locals from the area came to partake in the training that went alongside the implementation of our first garden. They participated in the training on the Amazima Ministries land, and then started their own gardens back in their villages.
We plan to identify more families from our sponsorship program that would benefit from FGW practices and teach a seminar to those specific local farmers. It is the hope that those families will successfully implement FGW method. Through Farming God's Way, Amazima Ministries is able to keep the goal of obtaining self–sustainability for the people of Uganda at the forefront of their programs.