Angella and Martha have two big reasons to celebrate and are one step closer to reaching their goal of providing their community with access to water! First, they were able to raise funds from their local supporters and community members to buy an ISSB brick-making machine to build strong water tanks and rainwater harvesting systems! At the cost of approximately $1500 which is quite an accomplishment! And second, they won the Best Booth at the Moyo District Women’s Day Celebration!
Angella and Martha are from Marindi in Northern Uganda, a region that has been plagued with conflict for decades. Both are retired nurses and have been working tirelessly as facilitators and volunteers to improve community health for the most vulnerable people in their communities – women, orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) and People Living With HIV/AIDS (PLWHA). Angella and Martha came to the Global Women’s Water Intiative through Patricia Eiyo-Elotu of the UN-World Food Programme. Patricia not only nominated the team, she also led the Climate Change workshop at the GWWI Women and Water Training held in Kamapala last July 2011.
At Moyo District’s Woman’s Day Celebration they offered a workshop that was attended by the Chairman of the District Council. They made bricks with the ISSB machine, promoted the bricks and offered a demo of the Biosand Filter! Angella and Martha are no stranger to recognition as they have won the Home and Environment Competition for three consecutive years! They have strong relationships with the community and its leaders and because of their transparency, they have developed a deep trust that will ensure that this program will succeed.
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This set the tone for the entire week. Women had arrived feeling a bit intimidated – some feeling a little scared because they had never built anything before, others fearful about speaking in public. Debbie created an incredible safe and powerful space for the women to identify their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) as leaders, a process that brought a profound sense of vulnerability and motivation. Each woman recorded and displayed their own SWOTS on poster paper and hung them all around our conference space.One of the most powerful moments during the training was the “gallery walk” where the women learned each others SWOTs. The women identified other women who had strengths where they themselves felt weak and connected to them for inspiration and support. By the middle of the week women were laying bricks, singing, collaborating, dreaming and standing up in front of their groups boldly declaring their vision for their community!GWWI believes that technology implementation is only a piece of the puzzle. Technology solutions will not replicate themselves! Programs work because of people, not because of technology. Developing leadership is a key initiative in GWWIs program design. Debbie Kaddu-Serwadda, iCON Executive Director, spearheaded the leadership sessions at our training, greeting us every morning as “Water Champions”! Our first course of action was to claim our leadership names! You can do this too! Take the first letter of your name and find a word that starts with that letter that most exemplifies one of your best leadership qualities! For the rest of the workshop, we called each other by our leadership names to give vibration and voice to each of our sisters to acknowledge that we see them as powerful leaders. We had names like “Daring Dade” and “Inspirational Irene”! Can you imagine how confident and relevant you feel when other people are seeing and acknowledging you as one of your most powerful qualities?
As you’ve seen from the blogs, the women are stepping into their leadership with grace and power! Thanks to Debbie and iCON for unleashing our power!
n: an Nguni word from South Africa that addresses the notion of our interconnectedness as human beings. Sentence: “Umuntu ngumuntu ngamuntu:” “I am a person through other people.”
I have been contemplating the implications of ubuntu in my journey to finding my life’s purpose. One February afternoon, I met with Phil Hutchings, founding member of BAJI (Black Alliance for Just Immigration), to learn how his experience with activism could inform my direction as an emerging activist. During the civil rights movement, Phil played a role in organizing youth to protest racist Jim Crow laws, leading to his involvement in the founding of BAJI. His work with in the civil rights movement manifested ubuntu in a profound way – it brought attention to our interconnectedness as humans.
I was born in Ghana, but have lived in the United States since I was eight years old. My efforts to embody ubuntu remind me of the privileges I enjoy in a society where I have all the tools to reach my highest potential. Reflecting on the tension between my privilege, and having family members who don’t enjoy the same privileges, influences what I do. Currently, I am a Research Fellow at Women’s Earth Alliance (WEA), an organization that highlights the role of women in the environmental sector. I spend my time with the Sub-Saharan Africa program that supports ongoing efforts of African women to create holistic and women-led solutions to environmental challenges. The recognition of our interconnectedness and interdependence is reflected in WEA’s core belief that “when women thrive, communities, the environment, and future generations thrive.”
If the notion of ubuntu is to be manifested in our everyday lives, then we have a responsibility to act when other human beings cannot enjoy their basic rights and live a life of dignity. Ubuntu presents infinite possibilities for us to bring our highest selves, knowing that “when we do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.”
“Umuntu ngumuntu ngamuntu:” “I am a person through other people.”
By Priscilla Ankrah, Research Fellow, Sub-Saharan Africa Program – Women’s Eartha Alliance