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Women’s Global Empowerment Fund

Challenge

Women’s Global Empowerment Fund provides critical loans, education and resources to women in post-conflict northern Uganda who are rebuilding their lives after horrific ordeals. WGEF sought GoodMakers assistance with helping to get the word out to a wider audience, and asked if we could film the annual drama festival in Kampala, Uganda. It features many of the women who have been assisted by WGEF and who are now running very successful businesses thanks to the micro-credit program and life skills training offered by WGEF.

Solution

GoodMakers started by hosting a fundraising event in Los Angeles in July, 2011, helping to produce a stage reading of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Ruined. Written by Lynn Nottage, it is based on stories of women in the Congo who faced very similar ordeals as the women in the WGEF program. The benefit helped to familiarize the LA community with WGEF and was a great lead-up to the filming that took place Sept 2011 in Kampala Uganda, where WGEF is headquartered. GoodMakers spent 5 days filming the women in the program, conducting personal interviews of the women and filming the drama festival featuring stories, plays and monologues written by the women and performed by all women, which highlighted the hardships and triumphs of the women.

Result

The documentary film GoodMakers shot highlights how small loans of $35-$50 USA help create dramatic and sustainable change. Many of the women who had been abducted by rebels and held captive for years, returned from the bush with children born from rape. Others came back without their children or family members who had been abducted with them. These women often returned to villages that shunned them and to a life that had moved on without them. Not having anywhere to go, many of these women were vulnerable to renewed abuse. Unthinkable and yet, what struck us immediately was the incredible resilient spirit that was prevalent in everyone we met. WGEF provides these women with critical life skills training and education since many of them were unable to complete their schooling.  They are also provided essential start-up loans to fund businesses such as agriculture development, which can be growing their own produce and selling at the local market, or buying from another grower and reselling.  There is also a quarry where women purchase large rocks, cut from a local river bed by the men, and then pound the massive rocks by hand into medium and small gravel sized pieces, which they sell by the bucket.  The women pool their money from the market and quarry, enabling each one in turn, through a selection process of drawing straws, to purchase a small household item, which would otherwise take many months to afford if they were to purchase that same item with only their own funds.


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