Day 6: AFRIpads & Tekera Resource Centre in Masaka, Uganda

For us, sleep is sacred, and this morning we were able to sleep in for a few extra hours. It may not seem like much, but after back to back days of 5:30am wake up calls it was a blessing.

The first half of our day was consumed with touring and learning about an organization called AFRIpads, who make reusable sanitary pads for girls. It is based out of Masaka, where they employ 126 people, but they have another branch in Kampala (which is their main distribution area) with 53 employees.
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In the first step of production, the employees make 14,000 pads per day. The organization distributes their product all over Uganda, sells packages of pads to shops, as well as exports a portion of them to surrounding countries like the Congo and Kenya. We were amazed to hear that their pads are so durable that they can last an entire year, and they only cost a couple of dollars.
 
AFRIpads's mission is to "empower women and girls through business, innovation and opportunity". They're achieving this through getting their product to girls who need it, but also by creating jobs for local men and women. AFRIpads is an incredible, successful organization and we were able to witness their efficiency and passion first hand by touring every step of their production.
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We spent the rest of our afternoon visiting the Tekera Resource Centre, where we will be spending the whole day tomorrow. The Centre is a phenomenal and well-rounded facility, affecting nearby communities. They offer a primary school, make their own uniforms, have dorms for the kids who have too far to walk from home to school every day, and if parents are not able to afford to send their child to school there is a program in place to aid them.
 
If they come and work in the centre's garden they receive pesos that they can convert into cash, which they can keep or use to pay for their child's school. This method can also be used for Tekera's clinic. Patients are not charged for their appointments, but they have to pay for medication if they require it (medications are also at much more affordable prices than pharmacies sell them for).
 
After the clinic we were then taken into the craft shop. Local women that are part of the centre's "women's club" come and meet every Thursday for socializing, eating and working on their crafts. These crafts are then sold in the shop and half the money goes to the woman who made them (which they usually use for buying more craft material or school fees) while the other half goes to Tekera.
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With this money, Tekera creates micro loans for the women in this group. They also have a vocational school. Many kids can't afford to go to high school after primary and the vocational school allows them to get a job right after they graduate the two year program. Finally we toured Tekera's garden, which supplies food for the staff and students, as well as a source of income for the Centre and people in the community.
 
Personally, I felt that Tekera had thought of everything, and no square inch of the Centre or dollar they make goes to waste. Though they are a smaller scale group, just affecting surrounding communities, they are doing a wonderful job of providing people an opportunity to improve their own lives.

Macyn Scholz, West Vancouver Secondary School

March 22, 2016

Photos by Ghazal Habib, Insight Program Director

Next up is Day 7: Tekera's Sports Day.

Learn About Insight's Engage East-Africa Program

   

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