This has been a busy week for widows' meetings. Gavin has been given seven groups of women from local churches who are trying to improve their lot in life. Working in groups of around twenty we are helping them to start earning an income which will feed them and their families throughout the year.
Most of the women are widows. Some are married although, as in Rwanda, men are usually absent from family life. There are two growing seasons in Uganda which mean two harvests of maize, matoke (green bananas), beans, and sometimes coffee. A few of the women have land to grow crops although never much more than a small plot and always rented. The rent can be paid for in cash but more often the landlord will take half the harvest.
The women sell what crops they can, keep some back to eat and then survive somehow until next harvest. There are a few animals which can be fed until large enough to sell but few women have the resources to breed any of the livestock. Digging the local fields is one way of earning money but with a day's wage at around 3,000 shillings (75p!) this isn't a practical way of feeding a family.
We are encouraging the groups to start communal activities such as pig or goat rearing. The animals can be bought relatively cheaply and sold for a good profit after six months. With enough animals a group of women should be able to generate sufficient money to help each individual start her own activity.