In 2012, Advantage Africa and SPAU helped the community of Bulange, Kampala District, to from a Single Parents’ Group under the leadership of Jane Nakiyemba. Living in an urban environment, it was agreed that the best type of income-generating activity for the group would be candle-making. Four days’ intensive training took place in June 2012, and the fifty single parents, most of whom are widows, learned how to make various types of candles. They were also equipped with business management and marketing skills to help them understand the importance of a well-presented product and how to make a profit. The training helped the group members get to know each better as they learned together, were excited about their new skills and enjoyed each others’ company.
In July 2012, the Bulange single parents received all the materials for candle production and the group has been working hard to produce plentiful stocks. The group members come together twice a week to make at least 450 candles, which they assemble in packets of eight to sell in their community. A single candle sells for 400/- (about 10p) and a packet of eight for 3200/- (about 80p).
Feedback from buyers at the local markets has been very positive and the reputation of the groups’ candles is growing. They are professionally packaged, drip less and last longer than other candles available locally.
Most importantly they have a mosquito repellent fragrance which reduces malaria incidence and is therefore very appealing to customers. With sales picking up, the group’s chairperson has set up a savings account for the members in the local bank.
Josephine, 43 years old, is a single mother with five children. SPAU found her ‘desperate when everything seemed to be ending.’ Her husband left her in a grave financial situation and her children became severely malnourished and were close to starvation. Now a member of the Bulange Single Parents’ Group, Josephine is able to earn a steady income and her children are on their way back to health. Beaming, and with restored confidence, she says:
I've never before been involved with anything good like the candle-making project!
In early 2013, the Single Parents’ Group members took part in Memory Work training to reduce the impact of HIV and AIDS on their families and the wider community. Malaria prevention activities also took place, with insecticide-treated nets distributed to all the poorest households. Being part of the Bulange Single Parents’ Group has transformed life for the families. SPAU Director Paul Lwanga says:
We are now seeing a reduction in disease, children go to school instead of roaming in villages and above all the beneficiaries are having big smiles on their faces.
You can read Advantage Africa's report to the Guernsey Overseas Aid Commission which kindly funded this work on the life-changing impact of the project.