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I'm here with a group of ladies from our self-reliant groups and we are meeting people from self-help groups here, building relationships and learning. 


Our visit today was to the Bufukhula Sismukha Women's Group in Lubaale. This is supported by an NGO called Sharing Opportunities Uganda under the umbrella of CAP in Uganda (the NGO which partners with PONT). We were overwhelmed by their welcome - lots of singing, dancing, celebration and welcome speeches - but what they are doing and achieving here is again inspiring and encouraging. Talking with a small group of them, I heard testimonies from people who had come from nothing, with no hope and self-respect, and gained both, as well as economic stability, through membership of their group. The group is a support group and they are all friends and they all save small amounts of money each week together. From those savings they can borrow to enable them to start small businesses and also to pay school fees etc and to cover emergencies like sickness. Some said that during the recent drought they would have starved if they hadn't been able to draw on the resources of the group. The NGO provides training in a wide range of things for them to help ensure that they succeed - but primarily its aim is to be the catalyst for their independence and sustainability. Although the context is so different, there were some parallels we could draw with what we are trying to achieve in Wales and some encouragements for our biggest problem in growing the movement in Wales which (apart from the benefits system!) is how to reach the most depressed and isolated people, who would gain the most from our groups.

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