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Informal focus group discussion with mothers in AfA Programs June 2010 Location: Gulu, Uganda Program: Women are involved in a variety of different programs, community book exchange, handicrafts, drama and dance. The majority also have children who are part of the program. Person interviewing- Theresa McElroy Demographics: ID 1 2

Age 48 50

3 4

29 48

5

45

6 7 8

37 46 55

Number of children in care Gave birth to 5 children: 3 died, 2 living. Gave birth to 8 children: 2 died, 6 boys, 6 girls living. Also cares for 4 grandchildren who are in the AfA programs because their parents died. 4 children, all in the program 3 grown children, and cares for 3 of her nieces and nephews who are in the program. 3 children and takes care of 4 of her nieces and nephews because her brother passed away. 1 child in program. 4 children, none in the program. Had 10 children, 5 died, 2 are in program 7 children and takes care of an additional 7 children, 6 are in program.

DISCUSSION: Tell me about Artfully aware, what you know about it? 1- What I know about Artfully aware, it is an organization of outside people, named Kelly and the Emily, ah, they came and introduced the organization to us with the activities taken under the Artfully Aware and therefore we also accepted doing. The Artfully Aware also promote out culture and other activities, since we have been having the civil wars and other problems in our place the Afa is to promote our future and promote our culture and again, to make us forget the past and to become like other people in the world. So the AfA introduced us to like handicrafts, making friendship with other people like writing letters, writing books, community books with the outside people so that they know our culture and at the same time we know their culture so that we become friends. Therefore the AfA also wants us, their program is to sell our products so that


they promote our living and we become independent in our lives. As I talk now, we have made some samples and have sent some samples like you see here; we have sent them outside to look for the market. Ah, and again, they have also introduced to us, making friendships with other people outside like the parents of the children in the program. And we have done and are waiting for the answers. So you have sent your books over there and are waiting for theirs? Yes, we have done and we have written so many letters. Great Ah, and again Afa also is trying to communicate, to connect us with the outside world by making an exchange visit, it is in their program and also according to our needs also we want to make a visit also so we know what is taking place outside and we come back and compare with ours. Ok. Thank you. Can you tell me about Afa? (quiet) Or you can talk about the programs you are involved with, the book exchange, the dance, the‌. 5-AfA came and introduced to us the community book and are reintroducing us to our cultures, something we were dropping, so it is re-introducing us to our culture. We have started communicating with people outside Africa. What they are teaching us is to help us develop and change our lives for the better. When we have developed our skills and are much better we can reach other people and meet people from different areas. We can also pass on our culture to our children and our grandchildren. 8=-AfA has introduced adult literacy, now we know how to write our names, something we did not know. We have also been re-introduced to our culture. The war, which took so long had made us forget our culture but AfA is reintroducing us to our culture. It has made us very happy because it is uniting us in this community and we are working together to know more about our culture. Thank you very much because teaching us to write is a great thing, we have been illiterate, unable to read or write, but since helping us you are helping so much. The teaching is very good. 5- Afa has made me very happy you made me learn how to make the community book. The first time we made it, we sent the community book and one was sent back and now we are making the second book. 7-One thing about the community book, it has united us, the men and the women. In the Acholi culture the women sit aside and the men sit in their different area but because of the community book it has brought us together so that the men and the


women can sit together side by side and work together, which was not there in Acholi culture. Another thing, it brought back some memories in our lives, it asked us about how we grew up, our backgrounds and then how we got to meet our spouses; we discussed so many issues with them about how we met our spouses, how we grew up and how we were in those past days. We are very happy because in those past days each person would stay in her home but because of this community group we have come together, we are working together, even things we did not know, we are learning from our members, our other fellow members. 4- I am very happy because in the past years, it was war, we were running up and down, we couldn’t even sit down and train our kids, but since AfA was introduced we have been able sit down with our kids and teach them about culture and teach them about how they should behave. We tell them where they come from, what tribe they are, where they belong. It has made our children know the things their ancestors used to do. I am so happy that this program has made us control our kids; there was a time when the kids were just loitering up and down, there were some who would not even come back home, but because of this program we get to be with our children, the children also get used to us, now we can sit together as a family. 2- The first book was made here about our local dishes. The young people like this one, they were about to forget about our local dishes, the local meals, so the AfA emphasized our local dishes, because we made for them, they tasted and found them to be nice, the dishes. So they emphasized on our local dishes, that we should not forget but continue, not leaving everything to come to the buzungu (foreigner) dishes. Because they have a lot of proteins for example for the children, so they don’t have kwashiorkor (malnutrition) and some diseases. Right, that’s true, local nutrition is very healthy. She also wanted to talk about the local dishes we made. 1- We are very grateful because of the program about the cooking local foods, many of us didn’t know, even our children didn’t know about that but because of this we are teaching our children to cook all the local dishes, even us we didn’t know ourselves. But then there are some few people among us who might have known and they taught us exactly what we did not know and we are so grateful about that. Great. Another thing we appreciate, as we sit together, we get to know so many cultural things some of them that were so difficult. For us, we did not know but there are some people who are older than us or some who were taught by their grandparents about these things, so we get to know about them. Most people did not know the local dances, most people did not know them, but now the kids are learning them. Most people did not know them anymore. I never imagined that we could make friends with people outside the country, but you have showed us that we can write letters to people outside


and then those people get back to us also in writing. I am so happy because of this program because it unites us. If I am at home sometimes I am so sad, but when I come here and as a community we talk about so many things, we tend to forget about our sadness and discuss important issues. Right. Thank you. Even the fireplace, these days we sit with our children around the fireplace and talk. 6-You have taught us how to get money in so many ways. If you lift us up to a certain level, now we can stand on our own. We can do so many things on our own. 3- I am so grateful for what you have done. In the past days women would just sit at home, they would be idle, they had nothing to do. If you are not educated as a woman, the only thing you would do is either cooking or going to the garden, but now after introducing us to this we can now take time doing crafts. I am very grateful for that. Now there is a lot of friendship, we love each other, because before people used to stay in their homes, they never used unite, but now these days we are united and we all like each other and understand each other. Additional respondent who stepped in- I am so happy about the programs you have brought, we have come to realize that there are so many things we can do to make money. I didn’t realize that through dancing I could make money. I didn’t know that through talking I could also make money but now I know that even myself, even as myself I could make money, and even in writing I could make money. You actually spontaneously answered most of the questions. Is there anything else anyone wants to add about the program, how it has impacted your life, what meaning it has? 2- ya, we have also when selling these, we have problems within ourselves, because as much as we make our things, we have the local market here, but still it is not enough to promote our lives. The first thing I want to suggest is to get us a skilful person who can teach us how to make more handicrafts. Secondly, the materials, although we have local materials, but like this one, it is not from here. The bark cloth The bark cloth is not from here and the colours for dying are not from here and other things. Thirdly, market. Last, if they could start for us the craft shop because when our crafts are collected in one shop, it is easier for the buyers, they come and find the things are packed in one place for them to buy. So that we also have one place, we sit from there, we make our arts from there, our crafts from there, we learn our mistakes, we correct and so forth and if someone wants to support us, we can get one place, rather than looking from door to door.


4-The things that we make, if we don’t have a market to sell them, in fact we become lazy. We cannot put these things on ourselves, we need to sell them, so we really need a market so much so that it can motivate us to do much more. If there is good market it makes us very active, it motivates us and we will also be very hard working. 3- If you could organize visits for us to go and meet other groups who are doing handiworks, the crafts so that we can also know broaden our knowledge and do other things, because it is boring to do the same thing over and over again. Thank you very much, thank you for your time. Thank you.

UG Mothers in Gulu, Summer10  

Program: Women are involved in a variety of different programs, community book exchange, handicrafts, drama and dance. The majority also hav...

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