A baby and her nanny can be seen chuckling outside a classroom block. A tickle here and there, and the toddler is reduced to bouts of laughter. The serenity of her giggle and innocence of her play is a sight to behold.
Even better, should she tire of her nanny and want some breast milk, then her mother, Never Shamim, is just a door away in class. This is an actual scene at Barakala Primary School in Yumbe District. It is here that Windle International Uganda is implementing the Skills for Employment Project (SEP) with support from the European Union. The overall objective of this project is to increase access to sustainable employment opportunities for the host community and refugee youth. This will ensure that disadvantaged youth in the target area are economically empowered to engage in viable employment for sustainable livelihoods especially the youth with limited formal or no education, young women and young people living with disabilities.
“I am 25 years old; I have 3 children, this is baby Hawa Quran,” she says while lovingly looking at the bubbly 9-month-old now seated on her lap. “I am doing crafts. I make necklaces especially and I am getting better every day.” When Shamim first heard about the tuition-free training from Windle International Uganda, she was hesitant on taking it on.
“I didn’t want to stop breastfeeding my child, yet I wanted to learn how to make necklaces and bangles,” she narrates. “But I was told not to worry at all. I was told to bring my child and that no one would stop me.”
Months into training, Shamim is optimistic that the Art and Crafts course she chose will help improve her family’s income. The income from her husband’s petty trade can barely afford them a decent living, and she hopes that her new skill will supplement it.
“I chose this course because it gives me some money without big capital,” she speaks. “I plan to set up my workshop and do my own work; women here like beads so much, I can make money.”
But should the shop have slow days, she plans on combing Yumbe’s markets selling her crafts. “There are big markets here; I can sell many of my things if I start going to the markets.” She says that with Yumbe being a multi-cultural district due to the refugee settlement, she wants to master each culture’s uniqueness and tailor her crafts to that need. “I can do it!” she smiles. “And now that they have started telling us about saving, I will make it.” She also loves the course because one can work from anywhere at any time.
Like most of the chosen students, Shamim believes in impacting the community and ensuring the skills don’t end with her. “I want to train more young girls who couldn’t finish school,” she promises. “I stopped in P.7. I am an orphan, there was no school fees, so I got married.”
The 25-year-old says that it was an early marriage, one that claimed her dreams until Windle International Uganda came along. “I want to thank Windle for training me and many other women like me,” she says.
Despite being months away from completing her training, Shamim has already started selling her crafts. The income has gravely improved on the standard of living in her household. “This is just the beginning, I believe that I will be even better by the end of this training,” she adds with a ray of optimism. “I know it!”