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A few months back, Buyobo women’s Association hosted Geoffrey Oryema, a certified yoga instructor, freelance performing artist, and social activist, for a yoga session and short discussion with Boys and Girls Group.

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A native of Gulu, Geoffrey grew up in the war torn north of Uganda during the time of the LRA, where he “heard gunshots daily, and had to run for his life to survive”. He was abducted by Kony’s forces early in his youth.

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Because of his past turmoil, he has “come to appreciate living in a sense of peace, and promotes and creates peace in his community through his yoga, and dance”.

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He teaches yoga as an outlet and form of expression, and as a platform to discuss other topics close to heart, such as treating other people with respect and kindness “especially those within your community, because you never know when you’ll need them”, and giving back to your community, among others, all of which he shared with the students of Boys and Girls Group.

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Boys and Girls Group had a blast stretching into yoga poses while reflecting on the wise words of Geoffrey Oryema!

 

 

Welcome 2019/2020 Fellow!

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WMI would like to welcome Kaycee Corcoran as the 2019/2020 Resource Fellow! Originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, she earned her BA in Sociology from Pennsylvania State University, where she also worked as a Research Assistant drawing data on political trends, in the Sociology Department. In 2015, she studied abroad in Croatia, Bosnia, and Montenegro, which sparked her love of international travel, and a longing to live overseas.

After graduating in December 2016,  she spent her time volunteering at a non-profit called Community Action Agency of Delaware County, where she enrolled eligible families in the Safe and Healthy Homes Program, a project that “provides education and interventions to promote healthy homes and prevent injuries”. She knew immediately that non-profit was the path for her, and in June of 2017, she was able to pursue her love of service work, and fulfill her longing to live overseas by embarking on her 26 month Peace Corps Service in a rural town in Eastern Uganda.

In her first year in Uganda as a Peace Corps volunteer, she spearheaded and concluded a grant project with a local organization, in which they taught alternative gardening methods to combat climate change, especially drought, and methods of how to improve household nutrition through diet changes, and the provided orange fleshed sweet potato vines (a variety high in vitamin A) and iron rich bean seeds.

Additionally, she worked on the grassroots level with a group of women to introduce low capital income-generating products to fill community-wide gaps in access, such as bio briquettes (formed charcoal made from organic materials or charcoal dust), and potholders. Previously, the village had used gathered firewood due to the high costs of charcoal, and women experienced burnt fingers daily before they started sewing their own potholders, both of which are now small sources of income for the women in the group.

She is additionally a founding partner and manager of Beyond Culture LTD, a Ugandan based not for profit company which boasts a Fashion line, Music Label/Artist Management, supports a village orphanage in Mugiti, Uganda, and spearheads other social projects and fundraising events related to the arts, especially music.

She hopes to gain more insight into micro-finance and how micro-lending enables women in rural communities. This is the beginning of her 3rd year in lovely Uganda, and she is ecstatic to share the next 11 months with the women of BWA, the borrowers, and the surrounding community of Buyobo!

 

RAIN Uganda is a mobile medical clinic that works in partnership with AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHS) to provide free health screening services to communities, especially rural villages, such as Buyobo. Twice a year, Buyobo Women’s Association partners with RAIN Uganda to offer free medical screenings to our borrowers, staff, and their families, who otherwise may not be able to access the screening services elsewhere.

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This past month, RAIN Uganda made their way out to Buyobo for the day, with 11 staff members in tow, including 2 doctors, 2 midwives, 2 lab technicians, 4 counselors, and 1 one secretary.  Our compound transformed into a clinic as the medical staff got to work! They spent the whole day with us and our borrowers.20190912_141708

In total, 72 people came out to receive the different services, which included, cancer Screening, HIV tests, blood sugar screening for diabetes, blood pressure checks for hypertension, and blood tests for hepatitis B. Borrowers were also provided with medicine for de-worming. Usually, RAIN Uganda offers eye screenings and corrective lenses, but unfortunately, they glasses were out of stock this time!

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In addition to the screenings, the attendees were given a 30-minute health talk which focused on cervical cancer, and HIV/AIDS. They discussed causes, and transmission, and explained who should be tested, and the importance of testing. Additionally, RAIN Uganda answered all the pressing questions posed during the session, and the screenings.

This day was made possible by BWA and Rain Uganda, who both share the costs to see that these services are provided to the women borrowers and their families. Their generosity is highly appreciated!

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My name is Paddy Mukasa, and I am a Junior at the University of Strathclyde Glasgow, studying BA Honours Business in Accounting. I am a member of the Strathclyde Harriers (Cross country) team.  Originally, I am from a small town of Katosi, Mukono district in Uganda.paddy-mukasa-photo.png

During my freshman year, I undertook an internship at Crystal Water Solutions, a Malawian start-up. This company was founded by students of the African Business Institute, which kindly matched me to this internship. As this was a new organization, my main responsibility was establishing the book-keeping systems, which involved recording the daily financial transactions of the company in a way that allowed efficient record tracking.  The internship was a great experience because it provided me with entrepreneurial skills and improved my interpersonal skills, while also helping me to apply my classroom knowledge to a real-world business environment, which was a great milestone for me, both professionally and academically.

I am excited to be interning at Women’s Microfinance Initiative (WMI) in Buyobo – Uganda, for the months of July and August! Thus far, I have completed business case studies and have worked closely with borrowers to brainstorm ways that they can improve their business practices. Additionally, I have demonstrated to borrowers how to track their finances so they can maximize income and re-invest in their businesses, and I am currently analysing the savings habits of our borrowers.

I am passionate about the impact of microfinance in my country, and it is my goal to return to Uganda to make a difference in this field after I finish my university studies. This is an amazing opportunity for me to learn the intricacies of microfinance lending in rural areas, and about the daily activities of the women who benefit from the WMI loan program.

This year we have been blessed with the quality and quantity of interns! From our Spring interns (Hilary and Will) who worked on business case studies and how to make your own reusable sanitary pad workshops and community outreach, it has already been a busy year, but we are just getting started!

At the beginning of June we welcomed our 2019 summer interns who will be with us through the end of July. Their main focus will be on compiling on our annual Factbook, interviewing borrowers, working with our Byos Group and Girls Group and content creation.

Meet them below!

NoahCha

Hello! My name is Noah, and I am a rising sophomore from Irvine, California studying Finance at the University of Notre Dame. I enjoy playing basketball and making videos, and I am heavily involved with my campus’ Investment Club and Special Olympics team. I chose to work with WMI to learn more about how individuals in rural communities integrate into developing economies without access to traditional financial institutions. My goal over the course of this internship is to gain a better understanding of the nuances of developing economies and the potential growth opportunities they present.

GraceCollins

My name is Grace Collins. Originally, I am from the small town of Wyoming, Delaware. Currently, I’m a rising junior at Princeton University, concentrating in Politics with potential certificates in Ancient Roman Language & Culture and African Studies. On campus, I’m involved as the president of Whig-Clio, Princeton’s political society. I am also active on the Princeton Debate Panel, the Pace Center for Civic Service, the Glee Club, and the Katzenjammers acapella group. I’m excited to be at WMI because working here is a fantastic opportunity to learn about microfinance and its intersections with gender and economic equality. Additionally, as a student of the region, it’s a privilege to live here in Buyobo for two months and to learn so much from its residents. I’m also very excited to be carrying out a music teaching initiative at Buyobo Primary School while I’m here. Through this project, I will help instruct the students in musicianship and performance art alongside the school’s teachers. With a grant from Princeton’s Class of 1978 Foundation, I will be purchasing a set of new musical instruments including xylophones, tube fiddles, and drums for the students. From interning to teaching, I know that I will learn a lot in my time here, and I’m so excited for the rest of the summer.

KellyCollinsMy name is Kelly Collins. I just graduated from the University of California, Berkeley where I earned a B.S. from the Haas School of Business and a B.A. in Economics.  At Cal, I was a member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority, especially involved within the Philanthropic Committee. My Junior year I studied at the London School of Economics where I concentrated in Management and played on the school’s Field Hockey Team.  In the fall, I will be moving to New York City to begin my first job at Yelp as an Account Executive. The Summer Internship at the Women’s Microfinance Initiative has brought me to Africa for the first time. I am incredibly excited to be working with the Ugandan women, learning about them and their businesses. I hope to investigate how loans impact the scale of a typical business and the ability for women to provide for themselves and their families.  By speaking to borrowers and analyzing survey data I am aiming to draw conclusions on the effects of microfinance in communities of rural east Africa.  Moreover, I can’t wait to spend the weekends exploring other areas around Buyobo, such as Mbale, Sipi Falls, and Jinja, with my fellow interns!

 

CarolinePlouff

Hey y’all, my name is Caroline Plouff and I am originally from Birmingham, Alabama.  I am a rising senior at the University of Notre Dame where I study Political Science and Global Affairs with a concentration in European Studies.  Last semester, I studied abroad in Angers, France where I lived with a host family and took all of my classes in French.  I enjoy travelling, spending time with friends, and trying new foods!  I am so excited to be interning at the Women’s Microfinance Initiative this summer because I believe that grassroots level initiatives, such as microloan programs, can have a powerful effect on how we approach international development.  This summer, I am most looking forward to learning about the loan program in Buyobo and witnessing first-hand, the impact a couple hundred dollars can have on the lives of rural women and their communities.

 

Hi everyone! My name is Nora Tucker and I’m a rising sophomore at the University of Notre Dame! I am studying Computer Science, with a double minor in Catholic Social Tradition and Digital Marketing. Outside of my classes, I am involved in our wNoraTuckeromen’s boxing team, the engineering leadership council, and my dorm’s hall council as our faith life commissioner. I’m also in the pep band and I work in the Alumni Association. In my free time, I love to run and travel. I am originally from Libertyville, Illinois, a town about an hour north of Chicago! I have a sister and brother and I love spending time with my family and friends. I am thrilled to be in Uganda, working with the Women’s Microfinance Initiative this summer! I am excited about working with this organization because it empowers women financially and has had such positive outcomes for borrowers. I look forward to learning more about the inner workings of a nonprofit organization, especially one that has been so successful and become trusted by the community. I’m also looking forward to teaching lessons to the local boys and girls group that WMI supports, since I love kids and teaching! My first few weeks in Buyobo have been incredible and I can’t wait to see what I learn throughout the rest of the summer!

EthanSeideMy name is Ethan Seide, and I am from Bethesda, Maryland. I am a rising sophomore at Princeton University where I study Operations Research Financial Engineering with an emphasis on machine learning and optimization. I compete on the cycling team, ski team, and club tennis team. I am also a member of the robotics team where we are currently working on constructing an autonomous drone. Ultimately, I would like to found a tech startup that helps people in the developing world, and I believe WMI can help me brainstorm ideas. I came to Buyobo to study the benefits of microfinance and learn about village life in Uganda. I also believe that as an aspiring engineer, I can offer a unique viewpoint in Buyobo. I would like to teach the children in the village about engineering and sustainable energy by doing a project with them. I hope to inspire the children so that in the future they start their own projects to help the community.

Hello! My name is Hilary, I am 24 years old and from Leicestershire in the UK. My family originates from Ghana so I have two places I call home.

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I studied Law at the University of Manchester in the North West of England, the three years flew by and following my graduation I found myself as a paralegal for a small but delightful law firm in the same location. Having realised my interests were instead peaked by developmental and human rights issues I decided to gain more experience in the field. I undertook a three-month volunteering experience in Burkina Faso where myself and 11 other volunteers worked to advance women’s rights in the rural village of Réo. We achieved this by educating young students and rural communities on HIV, domestic violence, sexual health and hygiene.

By working with WMI I hope to facilitate in the long lasting change to the lives of the women and young girls here, which has been made possible by the loan program. It will also be a great opportunity to assist with the introduction of reusable sanitary pads to the local area, which I also worked on during my time in Burkina.

I also enjoy knitting, baking and travelling. My most recent adventures took me to Melbourne, Australia where I met a string of people, took a thousand too many photos and camped under the stars with the local wallabies. I then toured New Zealand in a giant green kiwi bus. East Africa has been on my list of places to visit for a while and from the moment the plane landed I have not been disappointed.

Following my time in Uganda I will be taking a hop, skip and a jump over to Ghana where I will be working with the International Federation of Women Lawyers  (FIDA) in order to assist lawyers in the protection of women’s rights through 3 main projects. These projects entail gender inclusion and equality, the creation of better access to justice by increasing awareness to women of their rights and finally a research project into the education and literacy rates in a rural village.

In the meantime, I particularly look forward to getting to know the women of WMI and seeing how their business success continues to foster change within their community.

 

My name is Will Kuenster, and I have just arrived in Buyobo for my two-month stint as a WMI intern. I am originally from St. Paul, Minnesota, so the weather in Buyobo has been a welcome reprieve from the cold and snow!

I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in December with degrees in Finance and Risk Management. During my senior year in Madison, I was a volunteer intern with Wisconsin Microfinance, which operates small loan hubs in both Haiti and the Phillipines. Through this experience, I came into contact with Robyn and found my inspiration to make the journey to Uganda. Upon returning to the states, I will be starting a job with Deloitte as a Management Consultant in Minneapolis.

During my time in Buyobo, I will be conducting a series of case studies on the successful businesses built by our borrowers, ranging from Pharmacies to Schools to Tailoring Shops. The goal of the studies is to gain an in-depth understanding of their day-to-day operations and see how their businesses fit into and impact their daily lives. Our secondary goal, if possible, is to work alongside the borrowers to brainstorm and implement new ideas to help the businesses improve and grow.

I look forward to sharing the stories of these amazing women!

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