URICT-Uganda-2014URICT Uganda women's group in Kamuli District, Busoga Region

By Gabula Andrew, Founder/Exec. Director, URICT Uganda

“Smiles of Change”

URICT-Uganda-jewelryJewelry-making, a self-initiated project by URICT Uganda as part of its income-generating program – code name “Smiles of Change”, aims for our beneficiaries to be increasingly self-reliant.

These beneficiaries include grandmothers and widows, who are making jewelry from recyclable materials and selling them to support their grandchildren or children stay at URICT's school.

The project was started on the 17th of September, 2011. Local volunteers educated and trained in commercial art and design teach the beneficiaries.

URICT’s role is to get the women, youths, and children trained in these skills; once they learn, they make them on their own. We support them with some materials which has to be bought in the markets/stores.

URICT doesn’t benefit financially but rather supporting the people we serve by teaching them to fish instead of giving them a fish.

“I have been beading and making necklaces for three years. Each little doll takes less than an hour to make, but it is time well- spent, as each necklace is a joy to create. It also means more money in the bank at the end of the month, in a region where money is hard to come by.

Beading has changed my life, making my primary income earner in my home. URICT-Uganda has made a huge impact on my family: my husband, five sons, three grandsons, one granddaughter, and my cousin.

They are less stressed knowing there will be money at the end of the week to buy food and other basics necessities.”

Grote Mukoda, age 58.

A simple trade which can be easily learnt, says grandmother

Akello Justin, a 73 year-old grandmother in Busota who is looking after her three grandchildren, began sharing her life story in 2013:

Life has dealt with me, measure by measure. I was married off at an early age just before the colonial masters took over this community; my bride price was good and my parents were so happy, little knowing that I was going into a battle zone – my husband, Obella Jackson, quickly married some five other women, turning [us] into farm slaves.

It was never bliss.

In the late 90s, I started losing my children one by one (points to her graveyard in the backyard of her house); all the seven children I produced died within just six years.

Though I have reasons to cry, at least they left me with all these grandchildren and I address them by either my late sons’ or daughters' names – they are the source of my joy.

When I was encouraged to join the Busota group of URICT by Mrs. Tenya Peludasi, I saw little hope in what they were doing. I questioned myself: who is going to buy local things made out of banana fibers, skins, shells, etc?

Then my other fear was, will I learn to make them? Who will pay me? So many questions ran in my mind, but when I saw Zakiya Namulondo changing her life style, being able to afford things like sugar and meat and at the same time being able to buy a new pair of shoes for her biggest grandson Mukwaya Isaac, I quickly rushed to be enrolled into the program.

I learnt that it was easy to make these crafts and paper beads; in fact, it's more of a simple trade which can be learnt even in a week. I even started gathering my own materials locally though those which had a price I got from URICT.

Every time I delivered my supplies, I could put my thumb print on a piece of paper to confirm delivery and patiently waited for my paynent; maybe they sell those colorful things to the whites, maybe they have a market, and sometimes am paid after a week – sometimes it can take a month, but I keep on delivering supplies and noting how much I demand.

I have been able to gain some independence; the three youngest of my grandchildren are now attending a boarding school at Namisambya and as old as I look, I always pay their school fees on time with little trouble.

These things have changed the way I used to view life”

Justin’s story is long, but what we are sure of is that she honestly appreciates the activities and socialization in this crafts and bead-making project.

Recyclable materials easily obtainable

Most of the recycleable materials can even be easily gathered from the bushes, jungles, forests, farmland, lakes shores, river banks, etc.

Other materials like paper, we get them from the school, and townships in the rubbish pits - though there are some things we have to buy from the stores like wires, some glasses or balls, vanish, paint, oil, etc. but those are not so expensive, and we always keep the admin costs down so that the beneficiaries make a maximum profit.

Women with disabilities gain empowerment and self-respect

The beneficiaries sometimes do it individually in their homes after garden work – especially in the evening, but they have to meet three times a week to share, deliver stock, claim their payments, and learn new skills.

Gathering also has an element of socialization so they can share and learn things about nutrition, health, farming, micro finance, etc.

Elizabeth Magada, age 56, says life is difficult in Eastern Uganda – especially for the disabled:

“Our organization URICT employs and helps disabled women and offers them hope for a new life.

Most of my seamstresses were victims of childhood polio and lost the use of one or both of their legs, growing up without the ability to walk or stand upright. As teenagers, many underwent surgery and years of physical therapy at the Jinja Main Hospital helped me to regain the ability to stand.

Even so, almost all are forced to wear heavy metal leg braces in order to stand and walk only with the aid of crutches or canes.

Though they face nearly overwhelming physical and financial obstacles, each has decided to take my claim to a better life by working with URICT- Uganda Women Empowerment groups.

As one seamstress puts it: 'Each item we sew is our claim to a better world. A world where we are seen not only for the challenges we face but for the beauty we create."

URICT is an organized ORGANIZATION and run by the WOMEN themselves. The women believe URICT is about finding better ways of life, through prayer, teamwork, education, and reaching out to others.

And, of course, through sewing, too.”

Teenage mother buys bicycle

URICT is also training and teaching the orphans and other children we support on how to make these paper beads, so they are learning a trade and life skills.

All ages are involved, but the children just come in to learn a trade as most of their times are engaged in school work.

Faith Nafuka, age 19 is a school dropout. She says she is proud to work with the wonderful women group of URICT-Uganda Eastern Busoga Region.

“[I] joined URICT Women Empowerment group 4 to make a livable wage by handcrafting unique designs.

URICT organization works to combat both AIDS and poverty (two conditions many of the women have experienced) first-hand through education, job training, support services, and a sustainable income.

Making handcrafts – it has also has provided funds for our women group to purchase land for housing, financial support to our families. I bought a bicycle for both taking my children to school and home use, food and other basics necessities available all the time.

Thank you so much URICT-Uganda and all local and international supporters.”

Though it is popular among women and girls, even male youths have come in to create jobs for themselves. 

Improved standard of living

URICT’s target is to sell, and now we are also targeting the international market using online and social media.

Nabirye Idah, age 62, a mother of five and a grandmother, lives in the small village of Busota Bugoda Zone, Kitayunjwa sub-county, Kamuli district, Eastern Uganda. She is a member of URICT Uganda's women's empowerment group:

"Before joining URICT, i used to grow maize and beans four months to harvest and to get some money for family use and to pay school fees for my children. Buyers of our crops used scales. We got little money from the purchasing clerks and no bonuses. The growers/ peasants' welfare was neglected.

I joined URICT-Uganda because I saw it was the only charity which could solve some of our problems; they trained, supported us and traded our art products without cheating, with the welfare of the women in the group at heart.

There are many problems with poverty. During the lean season there is no money.

Here, women and some few teenage mothers make their own decisions... and we are proud of our art work women group and URICT-Uganda, our leading organization. URICT-Uganda ensures we receive a better deal for our crafts and additional income to invest in our community, while ownership gives women a share of the daily profits and a stronger voice in the organization.

That's a good job!”

Visit our online shop

As a way to be increasingly self-reliant, beneficiaries under the care of URICT have started making jewelry made out of recyclable materials. Buying from us is supporting us to get money for medication/treatment, books, internet, paying our utility bills and the like.

To make an order, visit our online shop, and just use our paypal account to purchase what you like. Please specify the item you need by the item number. For details and comments, you can contact us:

If you wish just to support this project so we can get more materials you can also consider a small donation.