2009 has got off to a great start for WOMA, because Karen was able to visit Kampala to meet our new recruits there, along with our dear friends from NGEN +, our Ugandan partners. We pay tribute to them once again for their hard work in identifying women in need, and ensuring that their training goes smoothly.

TAILORING COURSES

At the end of last year twelve women began their tailoring course at Namasuba college which is situated about four miles from the centre of Kampala . It’s a very unassuming “no frills” place, but what it offers is very impressive. The college has designed a course especially for WOMA, which gives the women the flexibility that they need to balance their family commitments with their training programme.
By Easter all 12 will have completed their training in basic tailoring skills and been given the tools required to set up their own businesses – meaning that nearly 40 women will have been trained by WOMA since we started our operations! It goes without saying that we couldn’t have done this without your support – thanks!

For the first time we have recruited people from the rural areas of Uganda, which are often the most deprived. They have been able to benefit from the training whilst staying with relatives in the city.

These recruits include a widow who has to feed eight children (including orphans from relatives who have passed away). The skills that she will learn from the course should prove invaluable to her, and help her to provide for all her dependants.
We hope that the recruits will be able to pass on the skills learnt to their daughters and granddaughters, so that they too will be able to benefit.

SEWING MACHINES

WOMA helps the women who have completed the training by providing a sewing machine on loan while they set up their businesses. We are proud to announce that nearly half of the women who have received machines, have now bought them from us – their first piece of capital expenditure – and are embarking upon their businesses with vigour.

WOMA is committed to trying to encourage a savings culture among those we train, and we have been very encouraged by the fact that so many machines have been paid off so quickly. The revenue from the equipment bought from us (which is sold at a big discount) is being used to purchase new ones for the next group of women to graduate.

EXPANSION INTO KENYA.

This year WOMA has set up a new training programme in Kenya. Six women from Korogocho slum in Nairobi have just started their tailoring training at the Buru Buru School of Art and Design.

Most of the Korogocho slum residents have no access to basic amenities such as water and electricity; unemployment is rampant, and HIV infection rates have left a lot of women on their own, having to look after their children and orphans. Korogocho is a place that in the past has been overlooked by other international charities, but we decided to set up a course to help the women there.

We have spent last year looking to identify a partner to work with, and have now linked up with the Comboni Missionaries who operate in the slum. They already run Saturday schools for children who have to look after HIV-positive parents, teaching them basic nursing skills, and also run a small hospice in Korogocho. We were so impressed by their work that we asked if they would team up with us to identify women living on their own, who could benefit from WOMA grants. Now our first six recruits are in college learning skills that should transform their lives!

FUND RAISING

We couldn’t have done any of this without your help. Your generosity and enthusiasm for what WOMA is doing has been invaluable.  Thank you!

Our sources of funds vary from people who come along and support our events, to people who have made many generous individual donations, to people who have given up their personal time to run marathons, take part in cycle races and other sporting events on our behalf. Even Nora and Karen (a duo not normally noted for their athleticism!) put on their running shoes and entered the Adidas 5K Challenge in Hyde Park along with Karen’s mother. We’ve posted the picture  just in case you don’t believe it!

We’re always looking for new donations for the charity, so we’d love to hear from you if you feel that you can organise a fund-raising event for WOMA, or if you’re of a sporting disposition and fancy giving yourself a bit of a challenge whilst raising money for us at the same time.

3RD BIRTHDAY PARTY.

In the autumn we had a very successful 3rd birthday party for WOMA at the Chapel Bar in Islington. Many thanks to all of you who braved the torrential rain to come and support us.  We had a great evening and were entertained by three very different musical acts – singer songwriter Lorraine Jordan sang her beautiful Celtic ballads, the Djembe drummers then got everyone’s feet tapping with their hypnotic rhythms, and last but by no means least BBC Radio London DJ Ritu got everyone dancing until the early hours with a great mix of sounds from around the globe.

Last year we commissioned a small number of WOMA Christmas cards from a local artist. They proved such a success that we hope to repeat the exercise this year with a larger selection.

We also have some WOMA T-shirts available to buy in a range of sizes for a bargain price of £20.  You can see Nora and Karen modelling them in pictures from last September’s party on the web site.  If you’d like to buy one please contact Nora at nora.dennehy@btinternet.com.

We look forward to an exciting year ahead, and hope we can rely on your continued generosity and support!