Last time I wrote on this blog I was reflecting on moving. Well, we are STILL moving! After six months we finally have a contract on the house we vacated last September. Meanwhile, I have fallen in love. Not with another man. My husband is still the love of my life. But with a group of courageous women in Kobulubulu, Uganda.
Shall I tell you their story? Not so very long ago, Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army rampaged the village and countryside around Kobulubulu, abducting young girls from their primary school, raping and pillaging and plunging this District into a state of terror. Eight women seeking to keep themselves and their hungry children alive at the nearby Internally Displaced Persons Camp gathered to pray. They were known in the camp as the Widows Prayer Group because their husbands were off fighting Kony and everyone assumed they would be killed.
The women began working together to carry the tall, heavy, jerry cans from the water pump to a nearby restaurant where the owner would pay them in cash. In this way, the women and their families survived.
When the women returned to their home village they wondered whether the cooperation they had learned in the camps might serve them well in peace time. Even though many of the husbands returned from the fighting, the women believed they could now contribute to the family’s welfare in new ways. So the original eight women invited others to join them, and in 2008 Kobulubulu’s women’s cooperative was founded (KRMA).
Now twenty women, who along with their husbands and children represent over 100 individuals, work side by side in an agricultural economy to grow crops and livestock communally. They desire to improve their lives, and the community in which they live, through movement from subsistence farming to commercial farming. They want to keep their children in school through group savings to pay for their fees and school supplies.
In their own words, KRMA desires “to improve household income, to ensure food security and livelihood, (and) to ensure faster conflict resolution and reconciliation among the community through peaceful means.”
At weekly meetings, the women pay dues at a minimum of 1000 Ush (less than $ .50) and pay 200 Ush. weekly for a welfare fund for those crises and emergencies in the community. Latecomers to meetings also pay an additional 200 Ush. into a basket set out for that purpose. Through their savings they have purchased goats, chickens, and two cows. One long term goal is for each family to own a heifer. But heifers run about $500 U.S. and their current rate of growth makes this a distant goal.
In my next installment about the ladies of Kobulubulu, I will share how I met them, and something about the stories they have shared with me.