From 26 February to 9 March, a 7 members of our congregation here at Ascension will be travelling out to the small rural community of Naminage, Uganda, our link parish.
We’re visiting to help further improve our good working relationship with the people in the parish of Naminage, with whom we’ve had a long standing link, and to help train children and family workers in the parish.
We’re also excitingly going to help set up a sustainable micro-enterprise called Petal which has been developed by Wessex
Social Ventures (WSV). Petal Enterprise will involve making and selling sanitary towels in, and by, the local community.
Why are we supporting Petal Enterprises?
In October 2015 our vicar, Rev. Andy Smith, travelled with a small team to Naminage, to re-establish parish links and assess where we might be able to add value in a practical and sustainable way to support our rural link parish. A key issue identified by our Naminage parish partners was how to keep girls in education, and particularly how girls can’t attend school when they have their periods but don’t have access to sanitary towels.
In too many communities around the world menstruation is a taboo subject. There is often little to no advice available for girls and, frequently, no access to affordable sanitary pads. This is forcing women and girls to use rags and, in some cases, leaves – often leading to the contraction of menstrual diseases. The stigma and lack of understanding results in girls feeling like they have to stay at home, missing out on 25% of their education or, in many cases, dropping out altogether.
The Petal Enterprise project helps the local community to manufacture and sell affordable, reusable sanitary towels within their local area. Having access to sanitary towels will help young women manage their periods and stay in school for longer. Our church WSV and our Ugandan link parish have connected with community leaders in Uganda, church leaders, secondary school heads and members of the Mother’s Union, to undertake a feasibility study on the community needs and potential economic viability of a micro-enterprise. The research shows this project could make a big difference to girls and their education.
How’s it going to work?
WSV and our church team will work with members of the local Naminage community to train the identified entrepreneurs in the setup and running of the micro-enterprise, providing training in business management, record keeping and the manufacturing process.
Alongside this, those involved in the micro-enterprise will be trained to promote the health benefits. In Naminage the
project will be focused around the two secondary schools. The commercial profits from the micro-enterprise will provide means for the entrepreneurs to sustain themselves and their families, whilst providing the funding and labour necessary to ensure that the sanitary towels the micro-enterprises deliver are kept available to the community.
Alongside working with WSV, we’re working in partnership with St James by the Park, in Shirley Southampton. The parish of St James is looking to establish a parallel micro-enterprise within their link parish of Bupadhengo, Uganda. The two Ugandan parishes are sufficiently close to be able to share learning and material costs to help with the start up phase of the enterprise.
The Petal Enterprise team is aiming to form a local oversight group which will help nurture the micro enterprises after our team has returned to the UK. We’re aiming to work with senior church officials (from Busoga and Kamapla), the head of network 32 local (rural) community health centres and Family Life Education Programme representatives.
Want to get involved? – Donate now
We’d love your support for the project. Please consider donating online.