Prior to joining U-TOUCH’s Women’s Empowerment Program, Harriet had a certificate in catering but was unemployed. When she joined U-TOUCH, she had low self-esteem because of her financial status and was unable to find employment. After completing her Women’s Empowerment training, Harriet gained the courage to become an entrepreneur and start her very own coffee shop business. She has trained a number of youths with her computer skills and access to unlimited information. Harriet has been able to improve her standard of living with her knowledge and training from U-TOUCH. Her business serves as a great example of the hidden potential women in Uganda have, and the impact of U-TOUCH propels them into a life of success!
Did you know that over 86% of Africa’s population still has no Internet access? Rachael, a former SEVO International student, became aware of this issue when she realized her institution lacked computers. As a nursing student at SEVO, Rachael’s goal was to manage rescue, health care, and training facilities to service providers, highway clinics, and youth rehabilitation homes. A key part of this process is the Internet, and without it, Rachael was unable to fulfill her job as a student. She discovered the lack of Internet access and took initiative in her university by enrolling in U-TOUCH’s ICT Program. There she learned vital ICT skills that helped her in doing research and opening up a business. She is the proud owner of a drug shop in Uganda and uses her computer to track records in her business. With the help of U-TOUCH, Rachael has access to the world of information, communication, and education. Don’t take being connected for granted!
Within the Women’s Empowerment Program (WEP) at U-TOUCH, economic freedom is achieved with the help of effective life skills, access to technology, and positive support from a team of understanding volunteers. Joanita, a senior four leaver, had hoped to join a higher institution of learning but was not able to afford the tuition. In hopes of attaining a certificate in secretarial studies, Joanita was ecstatic when she heard about the free ICT and WEP offered at U-TOUCH through the local advert. After her training with U-TOUCH, Joanita received many certificates for her hard work and devotion to learning and became employed at the Shivling Supermarket in Mbale Town. She saw an opportunity, then hope, and then the confidence to set her own goals and developed a plan to achieve them.
In contrast to the western culture, women are the backbone of Africa. They are responsible for bearing children, caring for their families, working in the garden, and walking for hours for water. Mirriam is a senior four leaver who found herself losing hope in education due to financial constraints. After hearing about U-TOUCH through a friend, Miriam was hopeful for a new beginning, and quickly became interested in the Women’s Empowerment Program (WEP). Shortly after, she joined the program, completed her training, and applied her entrepreneurial skills to her new business. She currently owns a shoe shop that provides stylish footwear for men and women. Being able to sustain your family through the income you earn is a vital goal for not only Miriam, but women alike in Africa. By financially supporting themselves and their families, women are able to empower and change their communities and economics.
Earlier this month the U-TOUCH Gulu community decided that they would like to come together to share with the world that the people are so very happy with what U-TOUCH is doing on the ground. We also just so happened to have Bosmic Otim, an incredible Northern Ugandan singer songwriter on our team. We decided to host a street parade and concert to celebrate the amazing accomplishments of the U-TOUCH community and invite others to join the movement. It was incredible to see the large team of volunteers working so hard to organize the event. Sylvia Latim, Maria A., Bosmic, Williams, Patricia and many more were all instrumental in making the event a huge success! Bosmic Otim invited other talented singer songwriters including BS Labong, Pretty B, Joe Emrold, Maria A., and a group he has worked with named “Nile Republic”.
The event began at 10am and we paraded through Gulu with all nine singers and thousands of supporters playing U-TOUCH music. Bosmic led the parade by speaking about the benefits of U-TOUCH in his home town. Students paraded through the streets of Gulu inviting the community to this one of a kind, unparalleled concert with so many fabulous singers who danced, sang and entertained an uproarious crowd excited about our organization.
The Concert was held at Kaunda Grounds and began at 1pm and continued well into the night. I was humbled by the opportunity to speak to the crowd of 5000 people singing, dancing, and laughing. Gloria and Grace Kyallo along with Sylvia Latim, a good will ambassador from the UK, spoke. Bosmic and Joe Emrold shared with the roaring crowd the U-TOUCH songs they had written. District officials attended and all were overjoyed with the thousands of supporters cheering and dancing the night away with incredible artists.
It was a perfect day, and I am overjoyed to see that the Gulu Community is in tremendous support of U-TOUCH. I want to say a special thank you to all who volunteered to make this event a reality. Without your hard work the parade and concert would not have been such a huge success. Thank you to Bosmic Otim who has inspired us with his beautiful music and incredible heart.
It feels good to be back in my home away from home, in Gulu town. Each year I return to receive a warmer welcome and from more than the year before. Each time I see someone for the first time I am swept off my feet with the greatest loving sincere hug after a year’s hiatus from my family away from family. Both the U-TOUCH and AMREF staff shared their joy and love with my return to the Gulu U-TOUCH Digital Center.
Each year I return to find that U-TOUCH has progressed beautifully and grown in so many dimensions. The staff has become even more dedicated to U-TOUCH and their expertise strengthened. The Center is in full swing; there are 14 desktops and 10 laptops in action here in Gulu with 15 connected to the Internet. The Center looks great and we will be having a painting party soon to brighten it up!
Upon arrival, I walked into a training session at Gulu Digital Center where Charles was deeply involved in training a group of Health Workers from Awach Health Center, about 36 km from the Gulu. The health workers are delighted to be here and do not want to leave as they are excited about the benefits they will derive from having technology in this remote village. You could hear a pin drop as the trainees intently listened to their trainer’s very important word. By the first day the trainees were drawing as well as typing on the computer. As the class came to a close, the trainees shared that they did not want to leave the Digital Center. They would need to end their first day of training on a Saturday eagerly waiting to return the very next day.
That is the News from the Field today! I hope it gave you a glimpse into life in Gulu. I will be writing again soon to keep you updated on all the latest from U-TOUCH. Please feel free to comment below or write to me on Facebook if you would like to hear about anything in particular!