In Uganda, women have minimal rights. When a woman becomes a widow or her husband leaves her for another wife, the in-laws often take away her hut and all she possesses, claiming that it belongs to them. Women and their children are then kicked out of their living spaces; left to find jobs and fend for themselves. If their husbands left them, the men often do not provide any help to their children. Many men leave their families because they have found another woman, or they succumb to alcoholism. This is the plight of far too many of the women that I’ve spoken with over the years, and it’s infuriating.
But despite this cyclic narrative of women being left, less than, and forgotten, I have seen them rise above it.
Today, I watched women continue to love on and care for their vulnerable special needs children, even though their precious child might have been the reason their husbands left them. I listened to women speak of the devastation of being widowed, but how Sweet Sleep Co-Op groups have met both their spiritual and physical needs. One woman shared of how her husband died, her in-laws took her things, and her children felt abandoned by her since she could no longer pay for them to go to school. Between the Co-Op business and a small individual business, she is now able to pay for her six kids to receive educations, and to provide them with two meals a day. She told us of her past with sorrow, but told of her present with a tangible joy.
So many of the women have lived through intense neglect, abuse and trauma, yet they are rising above it. Through these Co-Ops, the women have found community, and have helped each other heal. They now have goals for their families and big dreams for their futures. Even though these women are living under what we Americans would deem as intense oppression, they are powerfully pushing against it, finding ways to sustainably support their families with the help of Sweet Sleep.
Today, I danced with women, as they held up the Bibles that Sweet Sleep gave them, stepping to the beat of the drum, and shouting with voices that rang with hope. I danced with tears in my eyes.
I’m amazed at the fact that out of everything the Co-Ops are doing for them financially, the thing they are most excited about is having their own Bibles.
They share verses with one another, worship God, and heal…despite their pasts.
So, now I sit under my mosquito net feeling insanely humbled and inspired. Ugandan women are powerfully brave and creatively smart, and I aspire to have their courage one day.
If you would like to help more of these women overcome their oppression, consider donating to the Co-Op program today. $2000 funds an entire Co-Op serving 12 women and the children in their care. $167 provides for one woman to join a Co-Op and provide for her family. Check out more on our website!!
Sweet Sleep team member