Joan Sitenda forteller hvilken betydning KERWDAs samarbeid med Mother Courage har hatt for henne personlig og for kvinnene.

Story from a social entrepreneur in Uganda

Acknowledgment of coordinator Joanita Sitenda for the development of KERWDA together with the Norwegians and Partnership of Bitten Schei /Mother Courage and her network i.e. TroNett (Tove Hassel and Inger Marie Bakken), NHO ( Cecilie M. Endresen and Kari Maeland), Anne Grete Kjoerrefjord (Nyenga Children's Home), Marta Rabbe, Kari – Anne Lenvik, Mette K. Ofstad of Women Can Do it, Britt Hansen, Beate R. Zahl, Unni Viken etc.
A meeting in New York
In 2005, I met Bitten Schei of Mother Courage in New York City at the United Nations conference Status of women, at the Beijing platform we came to know one another through the discussion we made, and there after Bitten agreed to come and visit our project the same year in November. We held our first meeting that sparked our collaboration of 400 women in Uganda and Norway.

Personal development
Personally, 5 years down the road working in a cultural dialogue with the Norwegians has helped me develop and contributed a lot to my career and inter personal skills. I have discovered my self, all the talents created in me, and now I know am a woman Activist and a socialist who has to stand there for the future of our women in Uganda and Africa as a whole to change the male dominated society where also women can be recognized.

Through working with Bitten Schei it opened my eyes and expanded my understanding that for the existence of KERWDA there is need for sustainability, and empowered me to put more efforts in the business center of tailoring. This has been a strong base for revenue generation that caters for the administrative costs. It has also been a source of knowledge for the women members to train in tailoring and netting.

Working with Bitten Schei as my partner and Mentor has made me a strong woman who has to stand out with a loud voice in all circumstance, especially in a place like Africa, where women are viewed in a magnifying glass well as men are viewed in an ordinal one. I have been empowered by my Mentor through her positive criticism, ideas, lectures, remarks and the physical support to achieve my goals.

KERWDA as an Association and all the women members have benefited a lot from our Mentor and her network through encouragement and empowering in different activities. They have learnt so many skills and gained knowledge that has helped them stand on their own without depending on their husbands. For example they have gained self confidence, expanding their market base (in Norway), financial skills, and their gender rights in the society, and Art & Craft skills from the basic trainings and workshops that are supported by our Norwegian network.

Strong group
KERWDA Association has been networked to a chain of organization that are working on the local level and international level. This has benefited our organization a lot in learning and having different experience, in operation, administration and expanding our funding base through conferences and interactions. Within the group women have known each other and this is very important as they sit in groups and share ideas which help them develop themselves that has never existed before.

With the experience gained it has helped us build confidence that enables us market our selves to different organizations that are internationally working in Uganda for the same cause.

Norwegian support
Through our partners from Norway, we have been supported in Norwegians by giving the women cows, pigs and chickens to starting farming within their homes. With this project the story is endless that we shall live to tell even to our grand children, because most of the women had never dreamt of owning animals, but now they rear pigs which they sell when ever they have a financial urgency. Through Bitten Schei’s network, the women have also received cows which produce milk for sell and also supplementing their children’s diet which is very important as far as milk in Uganda is very expensive.

Proud women
Our women have gained a lot in a way that they can now stand on their own as entrepreneurs with the skills, knowledge and small loans received from Mother Courage to start the small business that have sustained their families. This has made these women very proud of KERWDA and have hope for their future.

KERWDA Education support program has also given future to the women and their children, they have hope for the future as in Uganda today education is the key to success. With this strong foundation that is implement in girl child KERWDA/Mother Courage objective is fulfilled.

Changing their lifes
All in all, I can now see a clear view of where I, personally and KERWDA is going. We have managed to gain a lot in all the activities that we have implemented with the support of our partners from Norway. Women have testified and KERWDA has changed their life and families. We have attained our base as the association where we can do anything independently and that is Seatre Land.

Uganda, April 2010