Our Kitgum beaders live in the very northern part of Uganda in Kitgum, a small town of about 10,000 people. The actual group location is about 2 km from the center of Kitgum on the outskirts of town where there is no electricity. This beader group has chosen to call itself “Rwot-tek” meaning God is great. The Kitgum group began in December 2006 and now has 40 members. For Rwot-tek members, life is a daily struggle. The women struggle to provide daily food for themselves and their families. Most of the women are renting huts for $6 to $20 per month depending on the number of huts they are renting. However, because they are renting, there is little land nearby on which they can grow food. If they try to rent land farther away, then their crops may be stolen before they can be harvested.
The Kitgum beaders hope that their bead sales will grow substantially, so that their income from selling the beads will also grow. This group of beaders was more traumatized by the immediate affects of the war in northern Uganda, and seems to have a more difficult time learning new skills. Many of our beaders have stories to tell of how the war dramatically impacted their lives. Because life is so fragile here, we pay the ladies for their beads ratably throughout the year, even though the sales are more skewed to the months of September through December.
In 2010, the Kitgum group began renting its office/training rooms. They also began providing beginner classes in tailoring and computer skills, and began a group piggery project in addition to the group goat project which started in 2009. During 2011, the group began English training classes for its members, and also constructed a chicken coop in anticipation of beginning a poultry project. The group looks forward to continued expansion of both its programs and its membership in 2012.
More than anything else, the Kitgum ladies have hopes and dreams for their children. They are excited that they can go to school and have a chance to continue their education even into secondary school. While the war was going on, school was interrupted for many children. Many young adults now in their 20s were unable to continue with their schooling because the schools were closed.