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Photo update! The work of SIA is happening every day
One of the interesting parts about working internationally is that, because we do not see it right in front of us, it can be easy to forget that the work of Spirit in Action grant partner organizations is happening every single day. In each moment, somewhere in the wide network of the SIA family, people are hosting workshops, providing emotional support to those who are suffering, distributing food to those who are hungry, and working their farms to build food security. Here is some of the recent work of SIA Grant Partners: Food security found in kitchen gardens The Visionary Women's Centre in western Kenya held a workshop last month to demonstrate how to make a sack garden. Sacks are created out of nets and filled with dirt so that the seedlings can grow out of the top and sides of the sack. This reduces the amount of water needed. Leafy greens like kale and collards are central to the Kenyan diet. Emergency food distribution Ugandans are experiencing a third wave of COVID and they are in a restrictive lockdown again. This means that people are having a hard time earning money to buy their basic daily needs. CAP-AIDS in northern Uganda is using a SIA Emergency Grant to distribute food staples to families who are vulnerable to hunger, especially those with HIV+ family members. Supporting Entrepreneurs in Nairobi Each evening, Lilian Wanjira, makes her rounds to visit the business-women who are part of Ubuntu Community Organization near Nairobi, Kenya. Ubuntu provides low-interest micro-loans to women who run small businesses to support their families. Many of the women are bravely taking control of their lves and Lilian shares words of encouragement with them as she visits. In the micro-loan program, the women are also saving for future expenses. Here Lilian (right) is pictured with Jane Wanjiku in Jane's tomato stall. In May, I hosted a workshop for SIA Partners about taking photographs. We covered basic concepts of photography composition and lighting. Afterwards, Lilian took this beautiful photo of Jane Njeri in her doughnut shop! These are just a few glimpses of SIA in action. But the SIA network is active every day, making the world a better place! #Ubuntu #CAPAIDS #covidemergencyfunding #microloans #Githurai #VWC
"God is the Process of Love in Action"
Today we honor and remember Barbara Deal, SIA Board Member and my dear mentor, who passed away two years ago this week. (Read my tribute from 2019.) In 2017, she gave an inspiring talk at Winni JFO about service and recognizing the Divine Spark in each person. Listen to the full 45-minute talk online. An excerpt from Barbara's talk is shared here: Wisdom from Barbara Deal: One way of pointing to God, that I have just recently been playing with, is to describe God not as a Being, a personality, a Being outside of us, but perhaps as a living, interactive, generative process. We can think of God, perhaps, as a process. God is the process of love in action. God is an interaction with us, and an interaction with all creation; interacting, wooing, and drawing us into fullness, to the fullest expression of our potential. The most astonishing thing that I have learned in this spiritual journey, is that we are invited, called, and expected to live this love. We are invited to participate in this love, this harmonizing, and this transformation, for the healing of our world. Barbara Deal, Tanya Cothran, and Naomi Ayot in 2019, visiting SIA-supported businesses in Aboke, Uganda. Mother Theresa's Advice to Barbara There is one thing that Mother Theresa said that has haunted me, and challenged me, and inspired me, and I yearn to practice this with you. Jesus challenged those who loved him to see him and serve him in other people. You remember that Jesus described that in the end it all comes down to service. It all comes down to meeting the needs that are around us. “When I was hungry, you gave me food. When I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink.” And they wondered, like I wonder, like you wonder, “When did we see Christ hungry and give food? When did we see Christ thirsty and give something to drink?” And he said to them, “Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these your brothers, your sisters, you have done it for me. When you have helped another, when you have served another, you have helped and served me.” [Matthew 25:35-40] When I asked Mother Theresa how she could bear to keep on with this work that she had been called to, knowing that the human need in front of her was endless, she said, “Barbara, don’t you see that the one I serve is Christ, in his most distressing disguise.” She took quite literally the words of Jesus, “as you have done it unto the least of these, you have done it unto me.” Photos from Barbara's Spirit in Action visit to Kenya and Uganda in 2019 [In a time of shared visioning with the Spirit in Action Board], I put into words my yearning that we might more deeply understand what it is we are about in that work, that we could more deeply realize that it is about recognizing and serving Christ in those distressing disguises. And then I looked around at that group of loving people [of the SIA Board], and I realized more deeply than ever before that we are called to serve Christ not only in the distressing disguises but also in Christ’s most glorious disguises, and all the disguises in between. In other words, we are called to recognize that whatever we do for each other, to each other, we do for Christ, who dwells within each of us. Thank you for building, co-creating, and serving for a healed world together with Spirit in Action. Read more inspiration from Barbara here. #inspiration #service #serviceisourprayer #barbaradeal
Trust-Based Philanthropy and Savings Groups for the Elderly
Over the weekend, the SIA North American Board and the African Advisory Board met to review our grantmaking strategy, and to begin visioning for our next 25 years as an organization. Spanning a ten hour time difference, and coming from five different countries, we discussed how we can best support our grant partners as they do the work to transform their communities and regions. As a board we have been exploring the framework of Trust-Based Philanthropy. This is a framework that fits with our vision and current mode of operation, while also pushing us to be more justice-focused, rather than charity-focused. “Trust-based foundations don’t write a check and walk away leaving the grantee to do whatever they want,” says Brenda Solorzano, CEO of Headwaters Foundation Montana, in a recent blog post about the approach. “Trust-based funders stay in relationship with grantees to learn about the work, help provide other types of assistance and together, determine changes that are needed to achieve the desired impact. This close relationship allows for greater transparency and communication about challenges and opportunities.” Curious about Trust-Based Philanthropy? Here is an excellent overview guide. Since 2019, the integration of the African Advisory Board into SIA’s leadership structure has moved us more clearly towards Trust-Based Philanthropy. Our AAB members are mentors to grant partners, visiting them and offering advice and support. Also, the North American Board and African Advisory Board meet together regularly, bringing those who know the context and impact of our work into the (Zoom) board room. Supportive Relationships: Spotlight on one SIA Partner At our meeting on Saturday, Naomi Ayot (AAB Member from Uganda), shared an update from SIA Grant Partner Kakuuto Development Initiative (KADI). KADI also focuses on starting from a place of trust and prioritizing relationships within their programming. “Usually savings and loaning associations look at productive age, and they only lend to people who they are sure will be able to bring back the money," reported Naomi. "But what makes KADI exceptional is that their savings and loaning association is for the elderly. Most people think this group is a high risk, and so they fear to lend the elderly any funds. “The process, the dynamics of this group work, is a kind of group therapy. The KADI groups meet every Saturday, and when you hear the jokes that they make together and the way they talk, you hear that it is also a support group for the elderly, which makes it very unique. This is in contrast to the government programs where people have to wait long lines to get a small handout of money. The group has supported the elderly to get into their very own self-initiated income generating activities, such as rearing pigs, goats, and rabbits.” KADI has two groups for the elderly, a group for the disabled, and a group for youth, each with 24 members. A grant from Spirit in Action and Amistad International helped form the foundation of their loan funds. Each session members are asked to contribute $0.50 - $2.50 per person in savings, then people can take loans based on how much they have saved. The group is also accountable to each other between meetings, if someone misses a session, someone will go to check on that person, to find out if they are okay. Listen to Naomi's full (5-minute) report:
Congratulations, Samuel Leadismo!
In the last few years, SIA has begun supporting more of our partner organizations with grants for staff salaries. Grants for overhead?? Isn't it better to pay for programs or tangible objects, rather than overhead? We've found that where there is dedicated, well-paid staff, grassroots efforts are able to thrive in a consistent way. Rather than seeing it as a waste, we see it as investing in and honoring the people that bring our vision of a better world into reality, while also making sure they support themselves and their families. Samuel Siriria Leadismo, Co-founder and Director of Pastoralist Child Foundation (PCF) in Samburu, Kenya is one of these people who is putting SIA into action, and who is compensated by a SIA grant for his salary. It's not just SIA that sees the amazing work he does to advocate for girls in Kenya. Last week, Samuel received a prestigious recognition award from Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta! From Pastoralist Child Foundation's Founder and President, Sayydah Garrett: On Friday, Samuel Siriria Leadismo, PCF's Co-founder & Director received a prestigious recognition award from Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta! Samuel was recognized and awarded for his dedication and hard work to end female genital mutilation (FGM). Speaking during the virtual launch of the Kenyan chapter of Generation Equality Forum at State House, Nairobi, President Kenyatta enumerated various initiatives the government had put in place to ensure gender equity and empowerment of women and girls. He said women are a critical national asset with great potential to shape, influence, and contribute to all spheres of development, and that empowering them strengthens the family, society, and the nation at large. “When countries respect women's rights, promote gender equality, and put women and girls at the centre of their development agenda, their societies and economies thrive, and those benefits extend far into future generations," the President said. "Equally important to highlight is that cultural and religious leaders from the Borana, Samburu, and Pokot communities have made bold public declarations to eliminate FGM and child marriage. This includes the 'Kisima Declaration' which I witnessed in Samburu in March of this year,” President Kenyatta said. The award to Samuel was presented by CS Margret Kobia, PS Collete Suda, Diplomatic Corps, UN Women country reps, UNFPA country reps, Anti-FGM Board and National stakeholders from the Ministry of Public Service and Gender during the launch of the Kenyan chapter of the #GenerationEquality towards the commitments of the #BeijingDeclaration in 1995. (Pictured: Janet recently graduated from high school and is continuing on to university with the support of a sponsor through PCF! She is a role model for girls in their villages.) PCF has made great strides in its efforts to end FGM and child marriage. How gratifying to be recognized by the President of Kenya! Our eternal gratitude to Samuel for all he does to advance our mission! You can read more about the work, projects, and education initiatives of Pastoralist Child Foundation here. SIA has also supported the building of a curio/jewelry shop for Samburu women through PCF. *Photos used with permission from Pastoralist Child Foundation. Thank you! #overhead #SIAgrantpartners #administrativeexpenses #trustbasedphilanthropy #kenya #pcf #antiFGM
Spring Newsletter! Read success stories, community impact, and what inspires our grant partners
The 2021 Spring & Summer newsletter is here! Ubuntu Community Organization opened their new brightly-painted office in Githurai, Kenya. Ubuntu’s leader, Lilian (in the polka-dotted shirt) has enlisted volunteers to support women in the community. This will also be a place where people can use the internet and access low-interest loans. In this newsletter we feature: Zoom Trainings for SIA Grassroots Partners A Tragedy That Changed My Life - by Fulgence Ndagijimana, SIA Grant Partner and African Advisory Board Member Photo collage of SIA Partners and their community impact Inspiration from Del Anderson, relevant to our times of pandemic Read the full newsletter and donate now to support the work of Spirit in Action. Thank you for supporting the work of our partners for more justice in the world! "My work is to make sure people can see a light at the end of the tunnel. My experience as a refugee, torture survivor and immigrant informs the work I do, and it was born out of my experience. I would not wish that experience to anyone, but I strive to ensure that mine did not happen in vain." - Fulgence Ndagijimana (Read the full story in the newsletter) #newsletters #inspiration #DelAnderson #refugees
Farming in the dry Kerio Valley
Samuel and Rhoda Teimuge of Eldoret, Kenya have been part of Spirit in Action since the very beginning. As friends of Del Anderson, they advised him on the best ways to support economic empowerment in Kenya. They all shared a passion for promoting self-sufficiency and sustainability, especially in terms of growing food and rearing animals, and farming in ways that preserve soil health. As we welcome Samuel and Rhoda as SIA Emeritus Board Members, I share their latest adventures in farming. Here is Samuel’s update: Mama Kigen (Rhoda)*, Timothy (my son) and I have moved to Kerio Valley, in the Rift Valley of Kenya. Tim is training on becoming a young farmer, taking a course in Agribusiness. Mama Kigan is raising chickens, and we are planting pixie orange trees and growing vegetables. The area is in a very rural area between Iten and Kabarnet, to the east of Eldoret. It looks like we shall have short rains this year and the Valley is very, very hot. The Teimuge's new home out in the Kerio Valley with the Tugen Hills to the east. No one lives around us – only goats and cows. This area is actually a grassing field for grazing. People come in the morning to release their goats, then they go back home until evening when they come to lock them. Our property is fenced with chain link but even that, goats find ways of getting in. All the families live at the base of the hills because they get water from the streams flowing down. The water does not reach the lower valley where we are. The guy who sold me the land was frustrated by the lack of water. Right now we are continuing to water by hand. When the community saw what we have done with our farm, they got motivated toward moving to this area. One by one they visited us to request water. I am careful not to induce them or tell them what to do. The best development has to come from them and this will last. We are encouraging them to clear the bushes and start to fence their properties. In this area most people are only planting maize (corn), but some are now talking about planting mangoes, bananas, and paw paws (papaya). We have already motivated over ten farmers to plant bananas in the area. Yes the land is hard dry but with water it is soft and deep and also fertile ground. We are doing soil control so that when there are heavy rains, it does not pull away the top soil. (Watch Samuel’s video promoting vetiver grasses for erosion control.) Thank you to SIA for funding a drip irrigation system, which will benefit the whole community. Timothy will play a role in helping me train others to use drip irrigation, so that more people can grow food in this valley. *As a way to honor elders in Kenya, it is common to call someone Mama or Baba (Father) + name of their first-born. Kigen is the eldest child of Samuel and Rhoda, and so they are called Mama Kigen and Baba Kigen by their friends. Water tanks Sunrise #farming #sustainableagriculture #kenya #teimuge
Meet Fred, Founder of Kiserem Epilepsy Foundation
Fred Kiserem (pictured below) was working in a café in Iraq when he suddenly fell down and started jerking. When he woke up, a friend from Uganda told him that it looked like kifafa – epilepsy. This was Fred’s first seizure, and he thought that at 27 he was too young for epilepsy. To find out more, Fred returned home to Kenya. After another seizure that landed him in the hospital, he sent up a prayer to God that if he got out of the hospital, he would start an organization for people with epilepsy. The Kiserem Epilepsy Foundation, started in 2016, is a community organization in Githurai just 40km northeast of Nairobi. It supports over 300 people with epilepsy and their caregivers, sharing information about causes of epilepsy, triggers of seizures, and first aid dos and don’ts. Fred, along with his wife, Kristin (who helps with project management), and Yvonne (who is the administrator and computer teacher) have also set up a vocational training program. This program gives practical skills like tailoring, carpentry, and computer skills to people with epilepsy, helping them to move ahead in life. Fred is well-known as a resource for seizures and epilepsy in his neighborhood of Mwihoko. He has a way of talking about epilepsy that normalizes the condition and puts people at ease. People come to him to ask about where they can go for diagnosis, and to find out about treatment. Sometimes Fred comes across people who believe the seizures are caused by demons and they want to hold prayer vigils to get rid of them. Fred tells them, “you can pray for healing, and then still go to the doctor.” In order to break down the stigma around epilepsy and seizures, the Foundation hosts awareness campaigns in local elementary schools and in churches. “If we talk about seizures regularly, people will know what is happening when they see a friend or family member start jerking.” SIA Partners to Support Kiserem Epilepsy Foundation Medication is effective in treating epilepsy but many people with epilepsy in Kenya are unable to get medical care or pay for the medications. This is where Spirit in Action comes into the picture! A SIA grant to Kiserem Epilepsy Foundation in December 2020 helped them establish a poultry project. This project is a vocational training program for 100 women with epilepsy and their caregivers. Each week, one person is selected to care for the chickens, learning how to feed them, keep them healthy, and clean the coop (saving the manure for gardens!). It is also an income-generating project for the Foundation. The broiler chickens will mature after two months and they have already arranged to sell the meat to a hotel. The profits will help them distribute medicine to those who cannot afford it. Fred and his team are a great example of how SIA partners are deeply rooted in community and passionate about serving those around them to create a better future. “Once you empower someone, they will go onto help another,” says Fred, embodying the SIA principle of the ripple of Sharing the Gift. They have a big vision of reaching more than ten thousand with epilepsy in the next ten years and we are proud to join them in this important work. Women learning to sew dresses at the Kiserem Epilepsy Training Centre #epilepsyawareness #communitybasedorganization #kenya #poultry #vocationaltraining
2 photo updates & a short video
1. Joshua & Fastina's Fish Farm in Malawi Manyamula Village is hours away from Lake Malawi, so the only fish that arrives there is dried. Joshua and Fastina saw the opportunity to sell fresh fish. They used a SIA Small Business Fund grant of $150 to stock their newly-dug fish pond in Manyamula, Malawi last year. The business has been so successful that they have expanded to three fish ponds, started beekeeping, and sent their daughter to a private school. They have Shared the Gift by giving fish fingerlings to three families. Joshua and Fastina's fish farm helps Manyamula residents add protein and diversity to their diets! 2. Financial Services for Women in Rural Uganda Most women in Uganda have a side-hustle: selling vegetables from their kitchen garden or farm, or buying cloth or kitchen items in bulk and re-selling them in their village. Sharon, a leader of Universal Love Alliance in Uganda, met with rural women last month as part of their outreach to widows. She laid the groundwork for starting a savings and credit group for these women who otherwise cannot access financial services for their micro-enterprises through the banks. 3. "The Answer is Local" 3-Minute Video I loved this short video about the power of local networks to create positive change in the world. "Too often development is something done to communities, rather than with them or by them." This misses out on local resources and local solutions! #shiftthepower #uganda #malawi #positivechange #fish #smallbusinessfund #businesssuccess #sharingthegift
"Abundant Life for All"
I woke up to the news of the violence against eight people, including six women of Asian descent, in Atlanta, Georgia. In some ways, it may seem that this news is unrelated to Spirit in Action’s work. But as I thought about it more, I could see how confronting this hate is tied to the work of our organization and of our partners. This incident is only the most recent incident of violence against people of Asian descent. As I read more, I learned Asian people all over the world have felt increased hostility. This seem to be a result of the hateful rhetoric connecting the coronavirus pandemic to China. These hateful acts are not only in the United States. Anti-Asian racism also exists in African countries, where Chinese and Indians are seen as outsiders, even though many have lived there for generations. Sex workers and LGBTI+ people are also often targets for violence, both within their families and in the community. Spirit in Action supports organizations that are working with victims of violence, and organizations that are promoting tolerance, understanding, and peace. MILCOT in Uganda is working to help women, many who are sex workers, rebuild lives after gender-based violence. Universal Love Alliance trains youth on accepting all people and encourages pastors to preach acceptance of LGBTI+ people. Empowering Communities as Actors for Transforming Societies (e-CATS) holds Listening Circle workshops to teach non-violence and conflict resolution in the urban informal settlements of Nairobi, Kenya. The SIA North American Board is also continuing to do work to uncover unconscious bias and to question the legacy of colonialism that is built into the aid and charity sector. Learning about the experiences of others, listening to how they experience the world, and recognizing our blind spots are all necessary steps in Spirit in Action’s mission to fulfill God’s promise for abundant life for all, and our vision for all people to live up to their full potential. No matter where you are in the world, no matter your skin color or orientation, there is work to do to get more comfortable with people who are different, and to confront the ways that each of us have benefited from privileges that lift us up at the expense of others. Thank you for joining us in this sacred and holy work. #justice #civilrights #socialjustice #humanrights
Expanding the Mothers' Support Programme in Kenya
Women around Turbo in Western Kenya are excited about the Mothers’ Support Programme expanding in their rural district. The program is the creation of Benter, Lizette, and Rhoda – the leaders of the Visionary Women’s Centre -- and it has the effect of increasing self-confidence and building a sense of pride in the women who participate. The women also improve the nutritional and economic opportunities for themselves and their families. 110 mothers and grandmothers are now participating, divided into eight smaller groups of thirteen to seventeen members. The groups meet regularly and learn how to start an organic garden and raise chickens. Overall, the Mothers’ Support Programme is supporting over 700 family members in their community. Rhoda, Davis and Benter are part of the Visionary Women's Centre leadership team Before being able to join the Mothers’ Support Programme, women must organize themselves into neighborhood groups and successfully complete the Table Banking savings program. For Table Banking, the women receive a clay piggy-bank which they fill weekly with any savings they get from sales of vegetables or odd-jobs. At the end of the year there is a celebration and the banks are smashed open! The women then use their savings for investing in chicks or paying for school fees for their children. “This project has had the most remarkable effect on everyone involved,” says Lizette, who is co-founder of VWC and lives in Canada. “It has inspired and stretched the Visionary Women’s Centre team to have the opportunity to bring such a wonderful gift to "our mothers.”” Planning for the Future There is great interest in the program, and so the VWC team has carefully designed a plan for slow and steady expansion of the program within the community. “We take two new groups per year," Lizette explains. "Once a group has been followed for five years with a gradual decrease in supervision, they will become part of the VWC MSP Alumnae. This allows for on-going contact and support from VWC but in a way that we can continue both to expand as well as honour our commitment to established groups.” The Visionary Women’s Centre is one of SIA’s multi-year partners, which means that the SIA Board has approved three consecutive years of funding. This allows VWC to plan future expansion without immediate funding concerns. Our multi-year commitment also helps VWC in their fundraising from other groups. This year the VWC team is making inroads into local fundraising initiatives, receiving support from a local gym and a bank branch in Eldoret, Kenya. As a way of Sharing the Gift, Lizette and Benter helped present at a Zoom training call for SIA partners last week! Twenty SIA partners from Eastern Africa attended the training to learn how to pitch their organizations to both international and local funders. Tanya and Barbara Deal visiting the Visionary Women's Centre in 2019. We were welcomed by the organizing team, who served us watermelon and told us about their vision for the future. #kenya #women #savings #localorganizations
"Our partners know best what they need"
It’s not often that international aid is featured on the editorial pages of a major newspaper. So I was excited and pleasantly surprised to see the New York Times Editorial Board write the opinion Foreign aid is having a reckoning. The authors start by outlining the problem. For example, “planeloads of free American corn can help famine victims in the short term, but they can also put local farmers out of business, making the food supply in the long term more precarious.” Aid is not neutral. It impacts local politics. Beatrice with her potato field and Ruth with her passion fruit crop. These two women are SIA Small Business Fund farmers. Painting people who receive support as helpless victims distorts reality and creates a stark power dynamic where donors get to see themselves as “saviors.” If we really believe that Black lives matter, then the reckoning is necessary. The opinion piece quotes Degan Ali, an activist in Nairobi, who wants humanitarian funding to be a “direct as possible.” She advocates for turning away from top-down model, toward shared decision-making and flexible funding. International fundraising “should be based on amplifying the dynamic work our communities themselves are engaged in.” Our Reckoning If you’ve been following Spirit in Action for a while, you’ve probably seen some of this “reckoning” in action. Our mission statement recognizes that “our partners know best what they need and can create the change they envision.” To live into that mission, our funding goes directly to community-based organizations like Kakuuto Development Initiative and Midwife-Led Community Transformation, amplifying their work. These organizations are doing the work before our funding arrives, not waiting for a savior. In addition, this year we’re piloting a new initiative of multi-year funding grants. For organizations like Flaming Chalice in Burundi, knowing that they will receive funding for three years creates stability and allows them to hire a local coordinator for all their activities. Manasse, pictured here, used to be a volunteer for Flaming Chalice and the SIA grant means he can now dedicate his full attention to the work. The funding commitment from Spirit in Action also makes their group more attractive to other funders. The pandemic canceled my trip to Kenya last year and nudged Spirit in Action to rely even more on the local expertise of our African Advisory Board members. One of the un-used and about-to-expire flight credits in Kenya is able to be transferred from me to Wambui Nguyo. She is already in the country and can make the visits that I had planned last year. It’s a long way from Opinion pages to real change, but it’s exciting to see these practices that we’ve seen work so well make it into the mainstream conversation! Wambui Nguyo is a trainer, organizer, and African Advisory Board member in Nairobi, Kenya. #localorganizations #grassroots #shiftthepower #mutualaid #multiyearfunding
Successful group therapy for young women in Uganda
When the social workers and psychological counselors from Midwife-Led Community Transformation (MILCOT) organization did an assessment of the young women in their community of Nansana Municipality, Uganda, they found an alarming number of girls who were in violent relationships and experiencing forms of sexual coercion. MILCOT is a SIA partner and community-based organization with the mission to take midwifery services out of the clinic setting and bring it direct to the community. Even during COVID lockdowns, the MILCOT team answered texts and phone calls from girls aged 10-24 about sexual and reproductive health issues. One of the MILCOT team members interviews household members to identify the needs in the community. Last year, MILCOT used funding for SIA to form two support groups for these girls living in dangerous situations and experiencing depression. Each group of eight members got together for a series of eight workshops using the Social Emotional Economic Empowerment through Knowledge of Group Support Psychotherapy (SEEK-GSP) Model. This model aims to treat mild or moderate depression and anxiety among those stuck in inter-generational cycles of poverty. (Those with severe depression were referred to psychiatrists for professional care.) The SEEK-GSP model aims to educate group members about depression, provide them with a supportive environment for exploring trauma, and developing positive coping and problem-solving skills. After sharing their traumatic experiences, the group members offered suggestions and encouragement, to help each young woman know she is not alone in her struggles. “We have seen that the SEEK-GSP model brought smiles on the faces of two groups of women and girls,” writes Caroline Nakanyike and Harriet Nayiga, MILCOT leaders. “Also, by coming up with income generating projects they have boosted their individual and family economic status.” Each girl was given $10 in start-up capital to start businesses selling fish, vegetables, or tea and baked goods along the roadside. (Pictured above is a group starting a frying business.) The groups also are joint savings clubs. “Team No Stress” has collectively saved USD$20! Harriet Nayiga was recognized as a Young Midwife Leader by the International Confederation of Midwives. Read her interview here: https://nursesandmidwiveslead.org/bringing-midwifery-services-to-the-community/ After completing the therapy sessions in September, the MILCOT team conducted a post-therapy assessment. They noted the following successes: Improved emotional wellbeing of members and their families; Reduced dependence and intimate partner violence, with enhanced creative and problem solving skills; Increased interest and task commitment; Increased trust amongst themselves that enabled support for each other; Enhanced patience, persistent of effort, self-assurance, determination, and responsibility; Improved individual and family income; Gratitude for acquired free knowledge in self-care, record and book keeping and saving culture. The outcome of these sessions is a general improvement of well-being, including renewed energy for activities that allow them to express their talents. One member resurrected her childhood interest in basketry, which has contributed to her household income with less stress! #uganda #girls #encouragement #skillstraining #savings #socialwork