A ray of hope for refugee women in Uganda

For a group of women tailors located in a village in Uganda’s Bidibidi settlement zone, all has not been lost during the pandemic. Their story is a true reflection of the old adage “every cloud has a silver lining” thanks to CARE and support from UN Women.

Since the outbreak of coronavirus and the subsequent lock downs around the world, many businesses have come to a standstill. For those living in the most vulnerable contexts, such as refugees and displaced people, the pandemic has had dire consequences.

With the social and behavioural changes that have come with COVID-19—regular hand washing with soap, social distancing, wearing face masks—the group seized an opportunity to not only make a living during this pandemic but to also support the prevention of COVID-19 in their community by producing face masks.

“My name is Rose Kiden Wani. I am 39 years old, married with five children. I really thank CARE and UN Women for these tailoring machines which are helping us. Before, I used to tailor my clothes and sell them because there was a market, but when coronavirus came, all the markets were closed. People lost money and the money I saved from my membership in the group were reduced.  I decided to come and work with my fellow group members to produce masks for our community to help prevent the spread of the virus in our community, and also make some money to live off of during and after the pandemic.”

Members of the Gloden Star women's tailoring group in Uganda now producing masks for their community

The Golden Star women’s group face masks initiative has been approved by UNHCR (United Nations Refugee Agency) and now have the opportunity to produce more masks to protect the lives of South Sudanese refugees in Bidibidi Settlement, Yumbe district.

The group is made up of 30 South Sudanese refugee women who started as a savings group in 2018 and expanded into a tailoring business in 2020 with support from CARE under the AWEAR project funded by UN Women. The women were supported with 15 sewing machines and materials to help them generate income and become more financially free. Initially, these women were actively engaged in savings group activities with various individual small scale businesses like buying and selling produce, making pan cakes, tailoring, selling vegetables and many others. Others are farmers who earn money from farming and casual work.

“My name is Kiden Charity, I am 28 years old and I am married with four children. We  thank CARE and UN Women so much for this support. When I stopped making Koboyo (pan cakes), I was so stressed, but I’m happy now to be saving lives in my community. People here cannot go to Yumbe town to buy masks, so my participation in this activity makes me very happy that I can protect my people from COVID-19 and also generate some money as a group which will help our household in the future.”

CARE is ensuring women and girls have tools and support to survive COVID-19 and to help forge a more equal, more resilient world. We know that women’s leadership is critical to enable the world to recover better, greener and more inclusively.

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