The level of Corona Virus infection in Gulu is, so far, low compared for example to the UK. The World Health Authority reported a total of 808 Corona virus cases in Uganda on 12 June,and 60-70 in Gulu itself and apparently no deaths. But, the lockdown has caused severe hardship for those who had no safety net to begin with: total loss of income; serious food shortages and high price rises.
Gulu Disabled Persons Union (GDPU) is working very hard to ensure that their beneficiaries are not badly hit by the related effects of COVID-19.
Advocacy Project and ‘Mama Mask’
GDPU together with The Advocacy Project have started an initiative called MAMA MASK. As Faruk the GDPU Guidance Counsellor and ETC@GDPU Project Officer says: “It is a contribution from the disability family, more especially from our women, as a way to respond to COVID-19”.
The Advocacy Project donated $800 towards production of 4500 face masks to be sold at a cost of 2000 Ugandan Shillings between June and September. The profit from the masks sold will support GDPU activities and utility bills, and pay the women for the work done. Mama Cave, the Sweater Weaving Instructor for the ETC@GDPU project, is working with the team at Gulu Disabled Persons Knitting Workshop to produce the masks:
- They have so far produced 800 face masks, and all are marked with the GDPU logo.
- They have sold 100+ face mask at the moment.
Two organisations of students from Gulu who are studying abroad, Gulu Development and Friends of Gulu, came together to support people with disabilities in the Acholi Sub-region, Gulu and Kitgum District. They have so far supported 200 people with disabilities in Gulu Municipality alone. They distributed 5kg of beans, bars of soap, 10kg of Maize flour and salt.
GDPU mobilized the most vulnerable people with disabilities in the community, the food relief was channelled through Gulu District task force. And of course, they ensured that everyone maintained a social distance of 2-4 metres and everyone was able to wash their hands with soap.
GDPU’s NEXT PLAN: Soap
Over 500 women with disabilities in Gulu and the surrounding districts, working in the informal sector, have been affected by the lockdown. In such crises you rely on your family, but commonly, women with disabilities are not supported by their relatives, parents and friends because of attitudes, discrimination and stigma. The government and well-wishers are giving some food relief, and they are very grateful but it is not sustainable and these women want to work for themselves.
GDPU have developed a concept to increase income to vulnerable women with disabilities who are badly affected by COVID-19 government lockdown measures. GDPU are fundraising from friends, well-wishers and development agencies to train 40 women with disabilities in the production of soap and liquid soap to boost their income; there is a high demand for these products now and in the future.
Musema Faruk, GDPU Guidance Counsellor: “There is a saying in our community, when you empower a woman you empower a whole community. A productive woman will help feed a family of 5-10 people; strong and healthy families make strong and healthy communities and all will contribute to social well-being.”
GDPU want to target women and girls with disabilities whose businesses were affected by COVID- 19 lock down measures. Their proposed project seeks to create self-employment to tackle the unemployment which is so deeply rooted in our communities.
They plan to train 40 girls and women with disabilities from four districts of Gulu, Amuru, Nwoya and Omoro, because they are the most vulnerable and deeply affected by the lock down. The 40 women will be trained as trainers of trainers in soap making; liquid soap production so that they can go back to their respective districts and villages to train others to start producing soap, liquid soap or face masks.
They will sell those items at lowest cost to their community, compared to existing products on the market. The profit they get will help them with the basic needs such food and medical treatments etc
Summary of GDPU Soap Making Project proposal:
- 40 women with disabilities trained in making soaps, liquid soap and protective face masks.
- The 40 women are trained to train other women with disabilities in the skills they have received. GDPU anticipate that each trainer will be in position to train at least 5 other women; the approach is a snow ball method.
- Certificate of completion awarded to 40 women with disabilities.
- Increased income level for our women with disabilities with their households.
- Improved level of living for our women with disabilities
- Reduced level of domestic violence.
- Reduced stigma and discrimination
- Strengthen the community
If you want to help GDPU in this proposal or want to find out more, here are the contact details:
Contact Person: Faruk Musema
Designation: Project Officer
Address: Jomo Kenyatta Road Gulu Uganda
ETC of PWD can also pass on any donations you might want to make through our Donations Page, just make the cause clear in the comment section in the donation process. Or you can contact ETC of PWD via our contacts page if you prefer.
If you want to find out how the ETC@GDPU project is getting on now that GDPU is starting to open up after the lockdown, please have a look at this recent post: Pushing on well: GDPU starts up after Lockdown