WOMA Newsletter May 2015


Dear friends and supporters

WOMA is ten years old this year and like most ten year olds, we want to celebrate it with a party !

We very much hope that you’ll be able to join us to mark this milestone, at a pre-concert birthday party.

On Monday 6th July from 6pm at the Purcell Room,  Royal Festival Hall

We will be hosting a drinks reception at 6pm in the Queen Elizabeth Hall Foyer for all our friends and supporters at this magnificent riverside location, followed by an evening of Greek Blues with Martha D Lewis and friends. The concert starts 7.45pm, tickets cost £16, to book your ticket please follow this link:

Click here to book tickets on-line through the Sounthbank Centre.

Martha has been a steadfast supporter of WOMA since it’s birth and has very generously agreed to donate part of the proceeds from the concert to WOMA. It will be a chance to update you on the work WOMA has been doing over the past year or so and share with you our plans for the future.


2015 has already proved to be an extremely busy year for WOMA. Spring kicked off with field visits by Nora and Karen to our two main projects in Uganda and Kenya.

In Uganda, our focus was the capital Kampala where we visited some of the women, who have benefitted from tailoring training in recent years. Among them was Barbara Nambuya.

Barbara Nambuya

Barbara is a WOMA trainee who graduated in 2007.  She is a widow and had lost her job and had no means of supporting herself and her daughter Katrina when she heard about WOMA.  She applied for the tailoring course and over the past few years she has gradually grown her business and now shares a workshop with another woman and rents a stall in the market in Kampala a couple of days a week to sell her garments.

To read more about Barbara and some of WOMA’s other success stories please  click here

What was so striking was the motivation the women demonstrated in establishing their own businesses, often in the face of huge personal challenges. Many of the women we train are either HIV+ themselves or helping to care for other loved ones who are living with the virus. In the past 10 years treatments and services have dramatically improved but it doesn’t take away from the fact that the women we train are a pioneering generation of HIV survivors. Being HIV+ is no longer a death sentence but it still poses enormous challenges.

On our final day in Uganda we held a WOMA mentoring and motivation summit in the gardens of the National Theatre in Kampala.

group shot of everyone who attended the summit
group shot of everyone who attended the summit

Nearly 40 of our graduates gathered for the event, many of them braving overnight bus journeys from the rural areas to attend. They brought with them armfuls of brightly coloured fabrics, furnishings, printed textiles and fashion creations, in a proud display of the products that they are now designing, producing and distributing.

Many of the women used it as an opportunity to exchange business tips and share their experiences with fellow WOMA graduates. The most recent graduates arrived in a flurry of excitement, proudly wearing their home made graduation gowns and carrying armfuls of “samples” of their work .

Thanks to your continued support of WOMA, we are able to provide dozens of women each year, with the tools to transform their talent for tailoring into a marketable skill. Many are now running their own businesses.

It costs around £450 pay for a course that can transform these women’s lives and we would ask that you continue to support WOMA to achieve that goal.

We were grateful to have some representatives from Equity Bank attend the event. Their engaging team provided some useful insight and tips to the women about micro loans and savings so that once the training with WOMA is complete, they can stand on their own two feet. We are now hoping to build on this to explore future partnerships with Equity Bank.

For Nora and Karen it was especially poignant to see some of the women who we trained nearly ten years ago. Alice, Flavia and Martha were among our first graduates and their presence was enormously inspiring for the newer recruits. The children of these women (who when we first met them were desperate to go to school but couldn’t because of lack of money to pay for the fees) have exceeded all expectations.

All of them have completed their schooling and many are now studying at or have just graduated from university.  That would have been unthinkable ten years ago but it is living proof that your support to WOMA is not simply helping the women themselves, but it is transforming the futures of their children as well. Meeting the women made us extremely proud and I think it was a day which none of us will forget.

The “grand finale” was the presentation of a brand new sewing machine to one of the graduates who had recently raised the deposit to purchase the machine. WOMA buys the machines wholesale, then distributes them to our graduates at 50% of the cost. There was a queue of other graduates in Kampala awaiting delivery of their machines – their first piece of capital, enabling them to step out into the world of business.

Sharon the teacher is demonstrating to her students how to drape a simple dress
Sharon the teacher is demonstrating to her students how to drape a simple dress

A short hop over Lake Victoria by airplane took us to Kenya where we spent some time in the classroom at Nairobi’s Buru Buru Institute of Fine Arts (BIFA). This bustling academy, not far from oneof the city’s sprawling slums, is where our Kenyan WOMA students receive their training.

Dorothy, a WOMA alumnus, who is now running a small shop with a friend, returned with us to share with the class some of the skills she’s learnt.  She’s now a partner in a tailoring business operating from a small shop in the northeast of the city.

Dorothy and a number of other graduates have been commissioned by WOMA to produce our anniversary WOMA bags – A quality branded product which will be on sale at our birthday event in July.


We have just completed a fresh round of interviews for new trainees in Uganda and are currently advertising for new recruits to join our training programme in Kenya.


We are enormously grateful for the financial support, which you continue to give us but we are still struggling to find a permanent and lasting source of funding which would enable us to plan long term and operate more efficiently.

We would again ask if you would consider making a regular monthly donation to WOMA. The simplest way to do this is via our “Just Giving” page:  CLick here to donate through Woma’s JustGiving page


Our friends have been enormously resourceful in their own fundraising activities over the past year. We are grateful for all the sponsored events but would like to highlight a particularly impressive challenge.

Nora’s niece Fran, is once again taking on the 100k Isle of Wight Randonnee cycle race this weekend, in memory of Nora’s husband, Peter Brook and to continue his formidable fundraising legacy. Please consider sponsoring Fran Dennehy on her page: Click here to sponsor Fran and friends on her JustGiving page

Best wishes and thank you once again. We look forward to seeing you in July!

Karen, Nora and Debbie (WOMA)