Young mothers affected by HIV/AIDS, orphans, widows, disabled and vulnerable mothers have a reason to smile and enjoy a better life as compared to all the problems that they face in the daily life due to lack of support, because with an organization like Mothers’ Initiatives Africa, is willing to hold your hand and support with whatever support they can offer to change your life for the better.
Mothers’ Initiatives Africa is a nonprofit organization that was founded way back in 2008 by two concerned mothers Ms Sarah Nambudye and Catherine Ajambo. It is found in Mbale, a district in the Eastern part of Uganda. This idea became a reality after they met a young drop out school girl in labor pains at a health centre but was not being attended to by the nurses. Their reason was that she did not come with the father of the unborn child.
“Umukhasi umutuufu amanya inda yo museetsa” (A proper woman knows the husband’s stomach.) Bagisu proverb
Mbale is a district that is occupied by Bagisu speaking people. The Bagisu originate from the Mundu, a man who is believed to have come out of a hole at the top of Mount Elgon. He later married Seera and they gave birth to two boys; Masaba and Kundu. Masaba was a herdsman and always took out the cattle for grazing.
He was attacked by Masai raiders who took all his cattle. Masaba made an alarm and as his people were organizing themselves to make an attack and help him; he went ahead without them and chased after the Masai raiders. Masaba amazed and scared the Masai by his bravery and courage.
The Masai therefore returned all the cattle they had raided and gave him a gift in form of a bull known as ingisu. So when Mundu heard about the son’s bravery and courage, he gave him a nickname (Mugisu) hence present day Bagisu. The Bagisu are divided into three dialects Ludadiri, Lubuuya, Lubukusu at the boarder of Kenya and Uganda.
Masaba (Mugisu) married Nabarwa and had three sons- Mwambu, Wanale and Mubuya and one daughter, Nakuti. Mwambu settled in the North of Bugisu and became the ancestor of the Bagisu called Badadiri. Wanale, who settled in the central, is the ancestor of the Bagisu living in central Bugisu and Mubuya moved to the south and became the ancestor of the clans there called Babuuya. These made the three dialects of Bagisu.
The Bagisu are mainly agriculturalists who grow Arabica coffee, for those who live 5000ft above sea level on the slopes of Mount Elgon. They also grow cotton. This is 4000ft above sea level. A small portion grows tobacco. These are their main cash crops. However, they also grow food crops like bananas, cassava, maize, potatoes and beans.
Mothers’ Initiatives Africa became a recognized organization in 2012 and it empowers women and the girl child with ideas and skills to liberate them in areas that are most important and vital in their lives. These include maternal and reproductive healthcare, psychosocial support, legal assistance, economic/entrepreneurship growth, maternal and infant mortality all this to curb infant mortality rate, abandoned children, abortions and the rate of school dropout.
A sustainable future for single and young mothers in Uganda.
Mothers’ Initiatives Africa is dedicated in all round empowerment of vulnerable women through skills development, education, health and social services for single mothers, young women and their families through their community based programs and strategic partnerships which will help them attain financial independence.
Mothers’ Initiatives’ Africa has nine principles that guide them to fulfill their objectives;
- Equity – targeting single and young mothers with special needs
- Effectiveness- offer services and programs that have proven benefits and follow the client centered focus of integrated care.
- Relevance – address issues of significance to single and young mothers.
- Appropriateness – services delivered with sensitivity to a diverse client base of single and young mothers.
- Commitment and passion
- Integrity and honesty
- Responsibility and accountability
- Human development and investment
- Excellent communication
Mothers’ Initiatives Africa that started with just two people in 2008 has grown both in number of staff, beneficiaries and even their budget has grown. By 2016, the organization has 35 members. They started up a village savings and loans association (VSLA) that has been a great success in helping the women save and get access to income that has boost their businesses. In February 2016, VSLA saved 23,000 shillings only during their first meeting. However, as of April 2017, VSLA has a savings of 15,000,000 shillings and 34 out of 35 members have been able to get loans from VSLA.
The women have engaged in income generating activities like selling charcoal, groceries, vegetables in the market, selling second hand clothes, art and craft, food vending and selling chapatti. Mothers’ Initiatives Africa plans to engage women in building sustainable skills activities like hairdressing, tailoring, mushroom growing and making of reusable sanitary pads as well as financial literacy.
Mothers’ Initiatives Africa invites all volunteers from all parts of the world. When the volunteer is at Mothers’ Initiatives Africa, h/she will be involved in the following;
- To empower women, young mothers, single mothers and widows with skills and ideas that is going to improve their standards of living and of survival.
- Guide and emotionally support those living with HIV/AIDS by giving them every reason to be happy and prove to them that being affected is not the end of the world.
- Encourage the young girls and young mothers not to give up on education.
- To show them even better ways on how to invest their money wisely. This is because most of them are doing petty jobs but with great ideas, they can be able to get involved in even greater businesses.
- Since the organization is planning on empowering them with hand skills like hair dressing, art and craft, the volunteer will help them through teaching them other hands on skills that they could generate income from.