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hrive is a community-based organization in Uganda working to enable vulnerable children to live and thrive at home, within the care of their families and communities. Thrive works to keep families together, to ensure children live in safe and nurturing homes and to help children stay healthy and to remain in school.

Blog

Milestone: 2,500

Jennifer Martin

Nine children who are benefiting from Thrive support.

Nine children who are benefiting from Thrive support.

As of this month, we are reaching over 2,500 parents and children through our programs! Over 750 parents and caregivers are participating in micro finance groups and in Thrive programs. Your donations are helping parents to provide for their children, to keep their children safe and to ensure their children can live and thrive at home!

Guest Post, Part Two: Trish Hartman

Jennifer Martin

Mary took out a loan and purchased a sewing machine for her tailoring business which she used to support her children.

Mary took out a loan and purchased a sewing machine for her tailoring business which she used to support her children.

Trish Hartman, a board member of Thrive Uganda, shares her experiences visiting our programs in Uganda:

"I want to tell more about our visits to the villages.  Sometimes we travelled down the winding washed-out roads that gradually just become a path in the woods. Often we were greeted by music and feasts the people put on for us. At first I hesitated to eat the food, for that was taking from those who have so little. I came, however, to understand that this is their way of repaying us, of showing their independence and dignity. The peanuts, mangoes, local meat and other offerings were particularly delicious. 

 

Group members told their stories of how they were able to borrow money to buy land and seeds, to grow enough food for their families, despite the difficulties with the extended dry season, and they were optimistic that with rain coming soon, they would be able to grow extra to sell.  Naluyima Sharon told her story,

 

“I thank Thrive so much. We used to rent. One day our landlord chased us away from his house. I came to the [Caregivers’ Group] and I took up a loan and we bought a plot. My husband almost stopped me from joining this group, but as I talk now he has realized the impact it has had on our family and he is also about to join. One day the authorities came and arrested us because we had no latrine so my husband felt bitter about the group….but now, when Thrive came and constructed our pit latrine my husband has doubled his joy for Thrive. Now we have our own house, we have our own latrine, we have our own land and no landlord can come to chase us away.”

Other members fixed their houses, paid school fees, helped extended family, or bought animals to raise.

“I thank Joseph and Paul (program staff). They came and brought iron sheets and helped us construct our pit latrine. Through the loans I took from the group I have some chickens that I rear at home and I have also invested money in the gardens to acquire adequate food for the family. So we now, through the loans, we grow sweet potatoes at a large scale. But because of the drought that has hit our village we have not been able harvest so much, but still we are investing. We thank Thrive so much for what it has done.” -Namirembe Sarah

The soil of the Kalangu region is very fertile, and everywhere there were coffee plants and mango and avocado trees growing abundantly where the pits fell.

Some villages are close to the road, and so they have been able to take loans to start roadside stalls to sell fruits and vegetables, or to start small stores, or businesses.  One woman in her sixties glowed with pride as she showed that she had borrowed money to build a tailoring business, and she has placed a manual sewing machine on the porch of her tiny house, watching the children at play while she sews. I imagine it is something she has always dreamed of doing, and now her dream is a reality.

 Basooka Kwavula micro finance group performs a drama to share how they have improved their lives with thrive's support.

 Basooka Kwavula micro finance group performs a drama to share how they have improved their lives with thrive's support.

Guest Post, Part One: Trish Hartman

Jennifer Martin

Trish visiting one of the thrive microfinance groups this January. 

Trish visiting one of the thrive microfinance groups this January. 

Trish Hartman, a Thrive Uganda board member, recently travelled to Uganda to see first hand how our work is changing the lives of children and families. She wanted to share her experiences with you here:

"In January, I travelledwith Jenny Martin to Kampala, Uganda, and then on to the tiny rural villages to observe the work that we are doing.  The trip was incredible, for the successes were beyond my imagination. We  were often greeted with singing, dancing, gratitude, and stories of how people’s lives have been changed by Thrive. We sat in on the meetings of the savings and loans groups, of which there are now 12, and we observed how the meetings run democratically, working together. Indeed the names of most of the groups are some version of “We work together”, or “Let’s Unite”.

Again and again, we heard people’s stories of how poor and powerless they felt before they joined Thrive, and how their their lives have improved now. One woman told us,

“I am privileged to speak,  I have benefited so much. I never had a culture of saving, didn’t know you could save 200 shillings (10 cents Canadian). Before I just spent it on food. Now I have saved a lot. Last year I had a crisis and my parents’ house fell down. I was able to borrow money and we re-built the house. Before we could not have done that. “

As well, people spoke of how they are empowered now, how strong they are when they work together. They told us of their improvements in health and nutrition, and how they can access the money they need to buy seeds or land for food, to start small businesses, and to pay school fees for their children. Incredibly, no one has yet defaulted on a loan. People were eager to show us the pit latrines they had built with local bricks and iron roofing supplied by Thrive. Most families now have pigs and chickens they have bought withborrowed money, and they are able to breed them, to make more – animals and money and food.  

Another woman told us, “Our group started in December, 2012 (the first group). At first there were only 9 members, when we elected our board members and formed our constitution, for people hesitated to join. They were afraid they would lose their money, for other organizations had ‘taken the money and ran’. But as word spread that the Thrive group was doing well, people began to come forward to join. Now there are 59 members. We work together, like our name, Kdegwambo, ‘We must work together’. We are doing a lot of things with money, but we are developing our talents as well.”

They performed a wonderful play that demonstrated, with humour, how difficult it was to start, but how lifesaving it is to have access to money when needed for health emergencies or school fees or other crises.

We heard that Thrive is special because it does not give out handouts, but instead it gives the families access to what they need to be powerful themselves.  At times I was near tears at the people’s stories, of how Thrive has given them opportunities they hadn’t even dreamed were possible.

Success Story

Jennifer Martin

I am Hadijah Munnyago. I borrowed money from the Group’s savings in which I am a member, hired and cultivated a piece of land where we grew a garden of beans. We are happy as a family that we have been the first family in our entire village to eat fresh beans for this current season yet we used to have no land for growing enough food. I also borrowed some money from the group’s savings and hired someone to start preparing for us bricks because we want to build a house that can accommodate all of us.
— Munnyango Hadijah, a mother to seven children including her nieces and nephews

Success Story

Jennifer Martin

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Whenever I used to get money, I would not rest until I had spent it all. When Thrive came to our village and taught us about saving, I joined my microfinance group formed by Thrive. Now I save every week and I am able to acquire loans from the group. I have bought a piglet and have improved my family food production with the money. When my piglet grows and produces, I will sell some of the piglets and pay for my children’s school fees because I want to educate them.
— Nabakka Resty, a mother of two

Success Story

Jennifer Martin

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I never used to have people entrust me in any leadership position in our village. When Thrive helped us to form a microfinance group, women elected me as the group treasurer. It has changed my perception and attitude as well as my self-esteem. Now I feel that I can be a leader even at a higher level than this.
— Plaxeda Bwegombe, a mother of four children

Success Story

Jennifer Martin

When I joined a microfinance group that Thrive helped us to form in our village I took a loan from the group’s savings and invested the money in growing maize. I used to have insufficient food for my family, but now I have a maize garden. I sell part of the produce after the harvest, and use the rest for family consumption. I am happy for what Thrive has done for us.
— Josephine Lubowa, a mother of two

Together, We are Making Change Happen

Jennifer Martin

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Since first piloting our microfinance program with 45 women a year ago, the program has grow to 12 groups and over 500 members! There is so much enthusiasm from the community that we can’t keep up.  Participants are meeting every week to save money and to take loans to start up family businesses, to improve their living conditions and to send their children back to school. Participants are not only helping themselves out of poverty, but they are also developing their self-esteem, building friendships and learning skills in leadership and financial management.

The same families are participating in our integrated program model to help their children stay safe, healthy and in school.

Your generosity is making a tremendous change in the lives of children and their families. Thank you for your generosity and for a wonderful first year!

To hear the stories of the lives you have touched this year, keep following our blog!

 

Keeping Children Safe

Jennifer Martin

We believe that children have a right to be protected from all forms of violence. That's why in addition to our work helping families provide for their children, we have started developing a program to respond to cases of child abuse. Through the program we are helping children, families and communities learn about child rights, and providing protection, support and legal aid to children and their families. This program has already made a difference for one family. Rebecca,  a single parent to four children,  shared her experience with us here:

“...Thrive sensitized us on Child Rights and Child Protection. We learned how to identify an abused child. So one day I was able to tell that my daughter had been abused by a man in the neighborhood. I took the matter to the Police and Thrive gave me financial support for transport and medical examinations. The man was arrested and is in prison, charged with child abuse. We are so glad that Thrive came to support our village.”

We are optimistic that by raising awareness and providing support to families, that we will begin to see more families and community members protecting the rights of children. 

Our First Microfinance Groups

Jennifer Martin

Ggoge Women's Group got a boost from the visitors. Paul, Sam and Scovia visited the groups on 15.12.2012.JPG

Over the last four weeks the Thrive team have been working on mobilizing women into Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLA). VSLA are a type of microfinance where members meet each week to save money and loan it out to members. Members can access loans to set up income-generating businesses or to pay for family emergencies (i.e. medical care). It is these groups that will form the backbone of much of Thrive's work. We have three women's groups started in Namwanzi village, each self-governing and with approximately 15 women.  They are Ggogwe Tusse Kimu, Lukindu Tokolere Wamu, and Namwanzi Central. The Thrive staff are busy teaching each group how to operate as a VSLA and conducting support visits to help groups with leadership, financial management and book keeping. The women are highly motivated and excited to participate in their newly formed groups. They are already saving weekly and making loans out to group members.