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Newsletter - October 2018

This year has been a very positive year for Blossom Africa as we have trained and supported our first savings and loans groups in Bunambutye. After planning and preparing for so long it has been truly fantastic to start working with the community on a project! It is fair to say that the group members have fully embraced this opportunity and are very committed to making their groups a success.
Jeremiah visits the groups each month and Ezra lives in the community so therefore sees the groups and members on a more regular basis. This regular contact has been useful as we can offer support and also gain a deeper insight into the community’s needs, wishes and aspirations.

Meeting in Bunambutye with Jeremiah, Ezra and some group members.

Both groups meet on a regular basis and members are saving as much as they can afford. The group sessions provide an opportunity for the members to discuss the challenges they are facing and to benefit from peer support.

Life is difficult for the community in Bunambutye. They face numerous challenges such as poor harvests due to changes in weather patterns, low prices for the crops they grow and therefore in most cases a very low income. A low income brings many associated issues such as hunger, lack of access to education and healthcare, poor housing and vulnerability to any shocks which occur.

Group members have told us that some loans are used to start or develop small businesses, and some are used to pay for medical treatment or school fees. This is very helpful to the group members as they do not have access to formal banking systems. However, paying back loans taken for non-income generating activities can be very challenging on a low income. We will therefore continue to encourage group members to, where possible, only use their loans for developing businesses or generating an income as this will have a more lasting impact.

There is a strong feeling of unity amongst the two groups and we hope that we can continue to foster this positivity as our programme grows and develops.

Group members sharing experiences with Jeremiah and Ezra

We are now exploring how we can effectively support these groups to develop further. One idea is to support the development of group income generating activities to complement the individual activities they are currently undertaking. This could provide an additional income for group members and therefore reduce their vulnerability.  We also have plans to provide additional training which will give the members new skills and also potentially another means of generating an income.

Overall, we are delighted with the progress our groups have made since January and congratulate them on their efforts and success so far. Based on this success and demand within the community we are planning to form and train further groups in the near future. 

In other news –
Blossom Africa has been accepted onto the Advance Mentoring Programme with the Hub Cymru Africa team. This Programme will give us access to professional support which will ultimately enhance our capacity and potential. We are delighted to have been given this opportunity and are very much looking forward to working with the Hub Cymru Africa team over the coming year.

Three of our trustees (Aimee, Yvonne and Clare) are visiting Uganda in February 2019 and will be spending time in Kampala, Mbale and Bunambutye. This will be a great opportunity to meet with the first savings groups and discuss the next steps with them. We will be there for the sharing of the money at the end of their first annual cycle, this is often a challenging time for new groups, so we will offer support with this. We are also hoping to have a small celebration event with the groups to celebrate what they have achieved over the last year. We are very much looking forward to catching up with Jeremiah and the rest of the team based in Bunambutye!

We were saddened to hear that Bududa (a neighbouring district) suffered from major landslides this month as a result of heavy rains. Over 40 people were killed and hundreds more were displaced. Bududa is in the foothills of Mount Elgon which is a heavily deforested area, landslides are caused by deforestation as the trees stabilise the land and therefore stop it from sliding. The trees have largely been cut down to provide firewood for cooking. These communities are left very vulnerable when severe weather hits, we have seen this in Bunambutye, the rain is so heavy that it washes away the crops and leaves families with no harvest. Unfortunately due to climate change, these severe weather conditions will become more prevalent and living conditions will become harder. This makes our work even more crucial and over time we hope that we can find ways to support the community and to make them less vulnerable and more prepared to deal with the challenges they will inevitably face.  

Thanks so much for reading our newsletter and for your ongoing support. If you have any questions or would like to get involved with our work then please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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