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Portrait: Nalongo Musoke - Out of poverty with women's power

16. May 2019 - Uganda
She desires nothing more than that her children can go to school and lead a self-determined life. Nalongo Musoke from Uganda has made this wish her plan and implemented it as a single mother. Part of the way was made easier by arche noVa's donations to our anniversary project.

Being on your own two feet

Anyone who meets Nalongo Musoke today will meet an inspiring, energetic and self-confident woman. But that wasn't always the case. Still very young, she found herself in a marriage that did not make her happy. There was violence and abuse until Nalongo Musoke decided to leave her husband. From then on she stood on her own two feet and had to raise nine children on her own. In the beginning it was difficult to take care of the small children and at the same time to support the family. That's why she got together with women who were in similar situations. In 1996 they founded the Muwumuza women's group.

Organize into self-help groups

Together we are stronger, that was the motto of the group. The focus was on helping each other, but sometimes the regional group reached its limits in larger projects. In 2013 they therefore joined a larger network: the Katosi Women Development Trust (KWDT), the partner organisation of arche noVa in Uganda.

The network gave Nalongo Musoke its second major boost. She was trained as a bricklayer at KWDT. With her new ability and the self-esteem she gained, she gradually took on larger and larger assignments. The desire for a higher standard of living for the children drove her on. She wants to give them a good education and therefore learned more and more herself. So she was able to break through the circle of poverty.

Improving living conditions for oneself and others

Today, 53-year-old Nalongo Musoke is the president of her women's group, a member of her village's WaSH committee and a Community Change Agent. She has great influence on the improvement of living conditions in her home community and beyond. For her, community change means not only change, but improvement. This applies in particular to water, sanitation and hygiene. This is also their main field of activity.

Together with her sons, who have grown up in the meantime, she takes over bricklaying work such as the construction of toilets, water tanks and biogas plants for households in her community. This is a rarity in Uganda, as masonry is traditionally reserved for men. All the more remarkable that Nalongo Musoke employs men and is the boss. With the money she earns, she can finance her youngest son's school education.

Woman in front of toilets in red T-shirt

I am a fulfilled woman; my children have a good standard of living with access to water directly in their house, their toilet and their bathroom, unlike my youth. They learn and help. I work as a bricklayer. Now I am seen as a role model and consulted to make decisions about my community.

Nalongo Musoke, 53 years old, bricklayer

Walling your own water tank

Recently another wish has been fulfilled for the family: With the support of arche noVa's anniversary project, which started in 2018, Nalongo Musoke was able to build a toilet and a water tank in her own house. The family is now well provided for itself. And there are already new plans. With a loan, the family wants to buy two cows and build a biogas plant to reduce wood and coal consumption.

As Nalongo Musoke's own financial situation has improved, she has taken in five more children from a remote, economically weak village. They live in her house to go to school every day.

Womanpower in the project area

In Uganda, as in many other parts of the world, fetching water is mostly the responsibility of women and children. In cooperation with KWDT, arche noVa supports families and entire villages to improve access to clean water, which saves time and money and increases the safety of women and children.

Together with Katosi Women Development Trust (KWDT), arche noVa has been able to implement the anniversary donations of 2017 over the past months and change the lives of many women.

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