Our Jinja beaders chose “Pittek” as their group name. Pittek is a Luo word meaning “upbringing is difficult”. This group which has 80 members is located in Jinja Uganda which is on the northern shore of Lake Victoria and is known as the source of the Nile River. Jinja’s current population is about 120,000 with a daytime population of almost 200,000. Most of our beaders live in the very poorest areas of Jinja called Masese, Danida, Soweto and Walukuba.
Most members of this group are Acholi women from northern Uganda whose families chose to flee the war in north in the late 1980s through the 1990s. When they did this, they abandoned their original ancestral lands and gave up their lives as agrarian farmers and livestock raisers to live a life of poverty in the slums of Jinja where they were safe from the war but where they became victims of many other diseases of poverty.
Many of our Jinja women have lost husbands, children and family members to the war, as a result of HIV/AIDS, accidents, or illnesses and diseases such as malaria and diarrhea which are all too common for those living in poverty. The name of Pittek is certainly a fitting name for these courageous women.
Pittek started as group in 1995 to provide support to each other and to also allow its members to obtain standard micro-credit loans and begin small businesses. These women have continued to unite and empower each other, and beginning in 2007, to promote each individual member’s talents, and undertake groups projects to generate income and to help the community.
Outreach Uganda began working with Pittek in mid-2007 when Carol Davis, the founder, came to teach them computer skills, a class which continues today under the tutelage of a native Ugandan instructor. Outreach Uganda immediately also began marketing the groups craft products which in 2007 consisted solely of paper beaded necklaces. More paper bead items and designs were later added including sling bags and earrings in 2008 and tie-dyed silk scarves in 2009. Training programs were greatly expanded and now include:
- English and literacy
- Computer and internet training
- Tailoring classes – all skill levels
- Specialized paper bead making skills
- Tie-dyeing training
- Health and parenting skills
- Management, leadership and business skills
Pittek members in turn have offered their skills to help train members of our Kitgum and Agwata beader groups.