Stage and chairs set up

Equipment rolls in

July 26, 2019

10:00 - 4:00

Bukedea, Uganda

Business Development for Survivors of Gender Based Violence

In 2018, Jeanie Brody thought of the idea of re-purposing sample gowns to help survivors of acid attacks start a gown rental business in Entebbe, Uganda. She spoke with the owners of Exquisite Bride in Pittsburgh and they agreed to donate dresses. We packed up the dresses and delivered them last year. Kevin can provide a funny story about the customs official who was curious about why he was bringing in a suitcase of heavily beaded gowns.  Interestingly, a FaceBook post saved the day- but that's a different story.

Improving the lives of vulnerable children

Thanks to Jeanie and Exquisite Bride, we have another batch of gowns to deliver to the women which allows for the expansion of  the selection of gowns that they can offer their customers. Sending clothing to Africa isn't usually a sound financial decision but with unique dresses such as these, they are able to draw attention to their business. This year members of Heaven's Family (a wonderful organization that provides training in business development), agreed to transport the dresses. Jeanie tracked down a suitcase (she actually purchased a new one) and thanks to Patrick Spencer's donation of an old suitcase, we packed up 20 more dresses to send!

Children arrive !

July 26, 2020 - The Event

​Imagine the excitement around a community event that is specifically for children, involves music and dancing, a huge stage and sound system, prizes for winning teams, nationally recognized judges, team t-shirts and a caravan of equipment, tents, chairs, building materials and food traveling down the main street of the nearest town from your village. Imagine that you have been preparing for this event for weeks now, gathering with your team to meet with your drama coach, a local woman - a survivor of domestic violence. She has come to your school each week to lead lessons on conflict resolution, the value of staying in school, healthy relationships, responsibilities that come with being in a relationship such as safe sexual practices and waiting to marry - even if it is counter to your father's wishes. You have looked forward to each one of her visits because she plays games, role plays, uses puppets and asks you to share your thoughts and opinions around Gender-Based Violence. Your team has written a poem, a song, a dance and created a play - one that required props so that others could better understand your message. 

Now imagine that all of this is taking place in the Sub Sahara of Eastern Uganda... in a small town midway between Mbale and Soroti... in a field on the outskirts of town. 

This event was made possible by our local partners, AVCR - Advocates for Vulnerable Children's Rights and the Bukedea Women's Drama Club. Special thanks to Victoria Nalongo Namusisi - our celebrity judge and dear friend. The GBV curriculum was created by faculty and students at Carlow University in Pittsburgh with consultation from Hanifa Nakiryowa, (survivor and advocate in GBV), Johnna Scabis (drama coach Upright Citizen's Brigade), and Mary Claire Davidson (director Penn Hills High School theater). Illustrations provided by the Moraine Family. Financial support provided by the President’s Excellence Research, Scholarship, & Creative Activity Fund for Experiential Learning and Research Grants, The Grace Ann Geibel Institute for Justice and Mercy - part of the Social Justice Institutes at Carlow University, the Jewish Healthcare Foundation of Pittsburgh, and many individual contributors who recognize the need to combat Gender Based Violence and the education of girls. 

Home-based businesses provide an opportunity of financial independence for individuals who are unable to work outside their homes. Some examples include survivors of domestic and gender based violence and mothers who are caring for a disabled child.

We have been fortunate to partner with various groups that are able to provide training in writing business plans and developing practices that keep these businesses viable.

An initiative to reduce Gender Based Violence (GBV) in Uganda

The effects of gender-based violence (GBV) result in devastating conditions for girls and women in rural regions in Uganda. GBV includes domestic violence in homes and schools as well as physical abuse and rape; but it also extends to child marriage, early pregnancy, and human trafficking. The education of girls is not typically valued more than the physical labor that they can provide. Contributing factors include (1) cultural norms that increase the likelihood of girls dropping out of school when they begin menstruation, (2) limitation in career opportunities tied to gender, (3) scarcity of resources, and (4) extreme poverty.

Our extensive experience over the past six years working in Ugandan schools and communities provides us with a unique perspective on their instructional practices and their cultural norms. After numerous meetings and conversations initiated by community leaders and school administrators who understand the challenges of promoting change, we developed an approach to address these challenges that aligns with current Ugandan teaching practices and the mission of Carlow University.

We understand that engaging & educating the entire community is essential for sustainable long-term change. The arts are woven into the fabric of Ugandan people and the tapestry of Uganda culture. Our approach harnesses their passion for the arts with the intent to shift attitudes toward the value of education for girls. The 24-week educational program targets male and female students in all levels of primary and secondary education and begins these important conversations around gender in Primary 1 (age 5-6 years). This initiative will focus on students attending six schools

(4 primary and 2 secondary) in the Bukedea District. Utilizing a GBV curriculum co-created by Carlow students, Carlow faculty & subject matter experts, teams of Ugandan facilitators will work within schools to explore age-appropriate themes, develop a stance, and create an arts-based performance that expresses a new way of thinking around gender equity addressing the value of girls and women. Facilitator teams are comprised of women from the community who are survivors of gender-based violence. They have been trained in the dramatic arts through the Bukedea Drama Club.

This program will build confidence and self-determination of girls thereby creating a new culture of opportunity for them. The culminating event – Watotos Got Talent – showcased the works of the students in a competition format in which they competed for category prizes and a grand prize.  Inviting the community to attend the competition builds technical capacity and is instrumental in changing perceptions and shifting community perspectives.