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Fatima is a 49-year-old mother of six children. To attempt to support her family, Fatuma collected dry bush used as firewood for cooking, which she sold within her local community. Despite this effort, she failed to meet even a quarter of their basic needs, including healthcare, educational needs for the children, and a daily meal. She shared how she would shed tears due to the pain she and her family experienced, and that her effort and sweat was not enough to provide for her children. Because of this struggle, Fatima was forced to give up on her own dreams and desires, to focus on the hustle of raising her six children.
When Fatima was placed in a Sweet Sleep CO•OP she believed she had no marketable skills. However, she quickly realized how her experience collecting and selling firewood could be turned into a profitable enterprise, if she had the startup capital to make her dream of having a permanent kiosk to sell the wood a reality.
With a big smile, Fatuma said “I appreciate God so much that Sweet Sleep came into my life at the very time when I most needed an urgent supportive hand. Through Sweet Sleep training, I acquired business management skills, knowledge of saving purposefully with a goal which I practically started doing.”
Fatima took a loan of $85 from her CO•OP’s savings group and rented a piece of land for four months. She and her family farmed the land, cultivating sweet potatoes, maize, and beans, which they used for home consumption and for sale.
With the first harvest yield of $143, Fatima repaid her loan and used the profit of $57 plus a second loan of $130 and brought her firewood business dream to reality! Plus, she was able to sell produce from her garden enterprise at the firewood kiosk as well.
Today Fatima is easily able to meet her family’s needs. She is so thankful for Sweet Sleep for having given her an opportunity to work jointly with other women in her CO•OP. She achieved a long-awaited dream of owning a firewood business, she has new friends who have been very supportive and encouraging, and above all she is very grateful to God for allowing her to get to know Him through his Word, which has uplifted her spiritual and moral behaviors.
Mastula has always possessed a steadfast determination to help others. After decades of caring for others, Mastula felt she had become indifferent and disappointed. Having struggled for years as an unemployed single parent with no steady source of income to support herself, her five children and two grandchildren, she needed confidence and encouragement to explore new ways to improve her financial situation.
It was not until the time when she was identified by Sweet Sleep and joined 2021-K9 entrepreneurial training at the village of Bugwanya that she felt energized and empowered to make a change.
With courage, Mastula looked for opportunities to raise the capital needed to start a microbusiness of selling food stuff at the local market in addition to the Piggery group project.
Using the knowledge acquired from the Sweet Sleep training she was able to know and learn the importance and basics on how to save and get loans.
Mastula started thinking of the resources that she needed to engage in her dream business of selling food stuff and it was at this point when she started saving with her CO•OP. After a while, she approached CO•OP members for a small loan through the savings group. The group members granted her a three-month loan that amounted to $42 as her startup capital.
God has continued to bless Mastula’s business. She has saved enough to build a stall where she is currently selling tomatoes, onions, cassava, bunches of matooke, and charcoal. Her profits are so great, she can now pay house rent fully, pay for her children’s school fees, meet a few of her necessities and to manage to finance her loans in time.
Mastula is currently working hard to achieve her new goals that include expanding her business to two additional local markets, employing her two siblings as vendors who are also unemployed and still seeking support from her.
She said that “the wide knowledge that she received from Sweet Sleep programs has not only changed the path of her life, but has also created intergenerational change for her children.” She is hopeful of overcoming the cycle of poverty. Mastula is proof that when women are empowered, they benefit not only themselves, but their families and their communities, as well.
Barbra lives at Bugwanya village in Wakiso District together with her husband Herbert and their four children. Her journey from being an unemployed woman to having a small individual business demonstrates how God’s mighty hand and grace is continuing to prevail in her life. She is so grateful for God’s grace in providing her with persistence, courage and resilience, and she expresses that this is one of the reasons why her life is now full of happiness and renewed Hope.
Before being identified and supported by Sweet Sleep, Barbra did not have any hope and couldn’t imagine that one day she could start her own small business. However, all of that changed when Sweet Sleep identified, trained, and financially supported her through Co-op 2021 – K9 whose group project is piggery.
In addition to her group’s piggery, Barbra has also benefited from the CO•OP’s savings group — taking several small loans to build her income generating business of tailoring. Using her skills in tailoring, she mends peoples’ torn clothes and sometimes she makes new fashionable fabrics for her customers. Currently she is able to save some money from the daily business income.
Since then, Barbra has continued to be very hardworking and is always motivated by the profits of about $8 that she gets each day. Having her own savings and goals independent of her husband was something she could not have imagined before. Thanks to Sweet Sleep, this has empowered her to believe in herself and to know that a woman has the potential and power to change lives.
Barbra is a fighter and has a powerful mindset that has helped her to overcome many challenges. She expresses that she had no idea that her life was going to be economically and spiritually transformed especially through the weekly Sweet Sleep Gospel Conversations.
Despite having the ability to read, Barbra didn’t not have a Bible until Sweet Sleep provided her with one and even encouraged her to come with it whenever she was to attend Gospel Conversations or any CO•OP bible studies.
Today, Barbra is very proud to mention that the Gospel Conversations have drawn her closer to God and she is happier that she is always encouraged to read the Word of God often in her CO•OP. She says that Sweet Sleep trainers have taught CO•OP members that, “whatever we do in our daily life worships God. I have come to learn to love whatever I do with passion so that I can become a good example to others and to be more careful with whatever I do because everything I do worships God”.
“Above all, I have been taught to be a hard-working woman like a prudent woman in the Bible and to share the Word of God boldly. I used to lack that confidence of speaking to people but after being encouraged, I now share the word of God in our group with much confidence. I have been blessed in my soul and three people from our CO•OP have also accepted Jesus to be their personal Lord and Savior.”
I am now proud of who I have become spiritually, my family too has hugely been blessed because I always get time to share the word of God with my children and husband whenever I am at home.
Barbra endeavors not to miss her CO•OP meetings each Tuesday because whenever she misses, she feels like part of herself is missing. She is therefore very grateful to Sweet Sleep for having come up with interventions that holistically and economically touch the heart of marginalized women.
Khajida lives with her husband, their three children, and her daughter-in-law. Though Khadija had the desire and ability to carry out various economic activities, until recently she lacked the resources and capital to start a business of her own. Consequently, she had been severely disrespected by her husband and relatives, who looked down on her and criticized her inability to make any financial contribution to the household.
Since joining a Sweet Sleep CO-OP, Khadija has been working hard to change her story. After learning the basics of leadership, income generation, and savings through our dedicated business trainings, she received funding to start a small business growing vegetables in her backyard, which she can then sell within her community.
Today, Khadija is not only making progress with her business, but is also the chairperson of her CO-OP, which is currently thriving under all aspects. Her family now recognizes her as a true asset and shows her the warmth and respect she so deeply desired.
While at home, Khadija applies the skills and techniques she learned in her CO-OP workshops and shares the Word of Christ with her family by means of the Scripture.
Her dreams of becoming a tailor and achieving financial independence were shattered soon after her father’s death only months before the end of her tailoring course, which she could no longer pay. Before joining a Sweet Sleep CO-OP, she made ends meet by selling cassava.
Once she joined one of our CO-Ops, she underwent extensive training and picked up a small loan that she used to stock up a tailoring shop. Business was flourishing, so she got another loan and bought a second sewing machine which she uses to teach other students to tailor for a fee.
Now able to care for her children, Stella is immensely grateful to Sweet Sleep for supporting her dream of becoming a tailor. She now earns up to 142$ a month and is able to pay for her children’s education, clothes, and medical bills, providing for them in a way that makes her trust in the Lord grow stronger every day.
As a result, 12 women have been selected to form the Praise Women Group CO-OP. They trained in savings and microcredit development, and learned how to start marketable income-generating activities based on their individual abilities. The women later received financial support to start the businesses they dreamt of. One of these women was Hellen.
At 28 years of age, Hellen sells vegetables such as onions, eggplants, and tomatoes within her community. She says that working in her new small kiosk brings her tremendous joy. Her children are equally happy to see her earning a steady income and are glad to have access to clean water, soap, and salt. Hellen is very much inspired by her progress and continues to work hard to grow her business, with the hopes of earning enough money to see her children through school and start a small savings fund for her family.
Since the launch of the CO-OP, people like Hellen testify that their lives have deeply changed. They have found education, resources, and – most importantly – hope, which they put to good use in their fight for a better future for their families.
“Despite investing a lot of time and energy in washing people’s clothes and frying cassava chips by the roadside each evening, the income earned from my sweat always remained miserable and barely enough to cater for a meaningful living. In the end, my family continued to live from hand to mouth and would often spend whole days hungry, with no food in the house” says Oliver, single mother of 5.
Oliver joined a Sweet Sleep CO-OP back in 2019, and ever since she found the resources – both internal and external – to change her life and become financially independent. After training in entrepreneurship and receiving start-up capital, she started a small business selling vegetables. Her sales have steadily increased, and she now operates from a small kiosk. From earning as little as UGX. 5000 ($1) from washing clothes, Oliver now makes UGX. 40,000/= ($11) per day from her new business. She has employed one part-time worker and has also brought a frying pan and a charcoal stove, so now she also fries pancakes in addition to selling vegetables. Oliver also participates in her CO-OP’s Savings and Loans activity where she saves. UGX 10,000/= ($4 USD) every week.
To crown it all, Oliver also attends the weekly Sweet Sleep CO-OP Gospel conversations through which she has found a lot of spiritual growth. “In the past, “says Oliver, “I was hopeless and lacked knowledge about the word of God, but nowadays I praise God for the opportunity of knowing about His LOVE for me and family. I can get what I need for my family and I have taken over my responsibilities of paying school fees and other related expenses for my children. They are now able to sustain regular school attendance, retention and with my savings, the future of my family is secure”.
She discovered Sweet Sleep in February 2021 and was astounded by the economic empowerment and support programs available to vulnerable women. She joined a CO-OP and educated herself on entrepreneurial best practices so that she could embark on a journey that would improve the lives of those she loved most.
Before Sweet Sleep, she used to sell black tea and roasted cassava chips along the roadside of her community, earning as little as $1.6 a day. As a single mother of four, she struggled deeply with making ends meet. After receiving startup capital from the Sweet Sleep CO-OP, Lamrah was able to expand her business by selling various snacks. She continued to thrive to the extent that she began supplying homemade peanut butter to large supermarkets, growing her income to $10.2 per day.
While the Covid-19 pandemic put a dent in her business’ growth, with supermarkets no longer needing as many of her goods as before, Lamrah remains optimistic. She is thankful to God for her family’s good health and continues to work hard to sell her snacks to the community.
“Sweet Sleep triggered something in me that I had lost. My fighting spirit and strength returned, and I feel like I started life afresh.”