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“Mothers, Daughters, Sisters” Insight Trip To Uganda: A first glimpse of this country and already a sense of family

By Julie Hindmarsh

Guest blogger and Women’s Opportunity Network (WON) member Julie Hindmarsh sends us this report while on WON’s “Mothers, Daughters and Sisters” Insight Trip to Uganda.

The headline in Saturday’s Daily Monitor newspaper in Uganda seems custom-made for the Women’s Opportunity Network (WON):

“My daughters will share my wealth, says President.” Uganda‘s President Museveni has announced that, contrary to African customs, he will leave a portion of his inheritance to his daughters in his will. He made this statement at an activist meeting led by the Uganda Women Parliamentary Association (UWOPA), where he added, “I encourage women to compete with men for the big jobs because they are more reliable than the men.” He also spoke out against his country’s poor maternal mortality rates, blaming this on the negligence of the Ministry of Health. After reading the article, I am convinced that WON is in the right country!

Our first day here–Saturday, June 19–was incredible!

Mothers and daughters always seem to make a special connection. Linda Hefner and her daughter Meredith thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon with Ugandan seamstress Rhoda Ogunwa and her daughter Joann.

Mothers and daughters always seem to make a special connection. Linda Hefner and her daughter Meredith thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon with Ugandan seamstress Rhoda Ogunwa and her daughter Joann.

Linda Hefner, her daughter Meredith, and I went on a tour of Kampala. Our driver, Frank, brightened when he heard that we were with Opportunity International. His auntie is an Opportunity loan recipient. She has a small store front grocery. Frank’s auntie raised him after his parents died, she paid for his education, and she put him on his path to independence. Frank now wants to get a small loan to start his own taxi service. Opportunity is a big family!

In the afternoon, an Opportunity loan client of eight years came by with a seamstress to show us her fabrics and help us choose designs for custom-made dresses, tunics, table runners and napkins. Rehema Kagwa’s first loan was just $150. Now she has a loan of $1,000 and her business is thriving. She owns her own fabric shop, has three employees and sells in several marketplaces. Rehema buys her beautifully patterned fabric from the Congo. For five years she has served her Trust Group as treasurer. They have clearly invested their trust in her. Rameha’s only child, a son, is in his
first year at Makere University studying IT. She quietly told me that her dream for him is to one day work for Opportunity.

It’s nice to know that our organization is well-loved. Like family!

Julie Hindmarsh is a WON member who lives in Baltimore, Md. She works as a clinical instructor at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, specializing in public health and global health care. Previously, she was director of the Women’s Cancer Prevention Program and health planner for the Office of Family Resources in the Baltimore County government. Julie currently serves on the Board of Directors for Opportunity as well as for the organization’s microinsurance subsidiary MicroEnsure.

This is the first in a series of blog posts this week from the “Mothers, Daughters and Sisters” Insight Trip to Uganda. Check back in all week long for news and inspiring stories about the women and families of Uganda. To get involved and support the women of WON and Opportunity’s work in Uganda, visit the page for our virtual “walk” for Uganda.

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