Meet Jaliya and ‘jaja’ Regina and see how we are helping to change the lives of children in the slums of Kampala

I just opened my email to find this picture (above) of Jaliya and news that she is studying hard for next round for exams that are coming up very soon.

This makes us immensely happy – and is giving me a great reason to share this little film we made with you today so you can see just how your support is changing the lives of children in Kampala.

Please, please watch it. If it makes you feel half as proud as I do right now, it’ll make your day too. And when you’re done, please share it with everyone you know – through twitterfacebookyoutube – to spread the word about awamu and help us to change even more lives for the better.

Jaliya is the inspiration behind awamu. You may recall that Jaliya suffered extreme neglect at the hands of her uncle when she was sent to live with him following the death of both of her parents from AIDS. She was just seven years old.

Fearing she too had the illness and may “contaminate” his children, she was kept in isolation in a tiny hut, barely big enough for her to stand in. Little Jaliya slept alone each night on a sack and was forbidden to play with her cousins, go to school or even touch the family’s possessions.

After hearing reports of a sick child, Regina – a member of the Tusitukirewamu Women’s Group – and our heroine, found Jaliya half-starved with a swollen tummy and coughing up blood.

Regina pledged there and then to look after Jaliya, offer her the love and comfort she so desperately craved and nurse her back to health. Although she knew it would be a struggle, she found a place in her home for her alongside the 10 other children in her care who’d also lost their parents to AIDS related illnesses.

Five years on, Jaliya is a healthy and happy 11-year-old. She’s doing well in school, she plays with her friends and brothers and sisters and, most importantly she has the love of a grandmother (or ‘ja-ja’) from Regina. A love that is so obviously reciprocated.

And this is thanks to you and your support of awamu. 100% of your donations and proceeds from your purchases go to support orphaned children like Jaliya, in the slums of Kampala and the wonderful, selfless women that take them into their care.

We help to train women in the communities in income generating schemes so they can earn a living to support themselves and their extended families.

And we support networks of women who have been similarly affected by HIV who give their time and energy to helping the most vulnerable in their communities. They walk the street of the slums, seeking out children and adults in need of their support. They encourage them to confront their fears, navigate the medical system and offer care and protection to those who are too weak to look after themselves or their families.

With very few overheads (the cost of website/the materials we buy for our products) a little goes a long way…

£243  could cover the cost of skills training for one woman over two years

£42 could help us refurbish the women’s groups old sewing machines

£139 could buy a new sewing machine

£59 could buy a school uniform, schools fees, books and pens

£16 could buy a good pair of school shoes

£69 could provide small loan to help a guardian start a small business that will help them feed their family

£22 (the equivalent of one summer dress) could cover the cost of school fees for one term

£483 could cover the school for seven years

£62 could buy warm clothing, mosquito net, mattresses, school uniform and scholastic materials for one child

£613 could support one child through seven years of Primary Education and a small start up loan so their guardian can earn enough money to feed their family

So thank you for every gift you have bought from us. for every share on facebook and twitter, every donation and, most importantly, every encouraging word you have given us.


Sarah Namaganda shows you how to make her recycled paper beads

Sarah Namaganda shows you how to make her recycled paper beads….

You can buy Sarah’s necklaces in our shop

There is a massive problem with rubbish in the slums of Bwaise and Makerer as the goverment privatised collection and families can’t afford to pay for it to be taken away.

When there is heavy rain Bwaise and Makerer floods, rubbish gets washed into water channels that over flow and runs through peoples houses.

The women’s groups we work with are trying to find creative ways to recycle what is around them.

By buying these beads or any of our beautifully products you will be helping Sarah and the women we work with earn an income from there craft as well as helping them to change the lives of the most vulnerable children in their community me.

Each of Sarah’s necklaces are individual and unique – please take a look.

Sarah cares for 6 children (not 16 as she says in the video – lost in translation). Her own daughter and five adopted children including her niece Delphine.

Though she supports many more orphaned children in the community.

They live in small small hut made from corrugated iron and mud and with two people to a single bunk bead.

All of the children she looks after are in school she told us “I make these beads so my children can go to school. Education is everything , my children must go to school so they can all have better lives than this“.

Many thanks to Josie Gallo for editing my shoddy footage!

Tom’s dream of going to school has finally come true..

Tom Salutes you!

This March we were able to help 26 more children to enroll in primary school because of your support – the money you help us raise though sales, donations and events is transforming the lives of children like Tom in Kampala.

This is a film from Tom and Teopista – Tom is now 7 years old and was ecstatic when he found out his dream of enrolling in school would finally come true. Please watch so they can tell you for themselves.

Tom’s father abandoned him with his Step mum when he was just over a year old.  She did not not care for him properly and he became severely malnourished and seriously ill.

When Teopista (his Aunty) heard how he was being treated she went to fetch him, She got him the medical attention he needed and became his permanent guardian.

They live together in one tiny room and Teopista ran a small roadside business – she would sell sweets and cakes  she would make around 2,000 Ugandan shillings (0.55p) which they used to buy food for that day – until last year when the Ugandan government banned roadside traders and life became even more of a struggle.

Luckily, the situation was bought to the attention of the women’s group we work with in Bwaise and now, with your help, Tom has just completed his first term in school –  he has a new uniform, shoes, school books and gets at least one meal a day at school.

The women in the groups we work with walk the streets of the slums seeking out children and adults in dire need of their help.

Their support often means the difference the difference between life and death in areas with little or no social services or protection.

Whether it is education grants or skills training that helps guardians earn an income. Every penny we raise through sales and donation goes towards project that are making life better for kids like Tom.

Weebale Nnyo!

(Which means ‘Thank you very much’ Luganda – the main language spoken in Kampala)

Our inspiration – meet the faces behind the products

We are passionate about creating a connection between you and the women that make our beautiful products for you.

It’s time you got to meet some of the team who put time and loving care into turning our patterns and fabric into beautifully tailored items you can buy in our shop.

We can vouch for the quality of their work and the warmth of their hearts as they are creating but we’ll let Sarah Kabenge and Salima Najjingo explain for themselves how learning tailoring skills has changed their lives.

Every penny we raise through sales and donations is ploughed back into the education grants for vulnerable children and skills training for their guardians so they can support themselves and their families.

We really hope you will find something you love in our shop, but if shopping is not for you and like what we do please consider a donation.


Photo above: Sarah Kabenge with her son Jackson

Filmed/edited for awamu by our friend Thomas White

Meet Diana – she loves to dance

I have so much to tell you about what I got up to Kampala that I am a bit paralysed by it – I just didn’t know where to start…until I stumbled this clip on whilst this which I filmed whilst visiting the school that many of children we are supporting with our education grants have just enrolled.

This is Diana (centre) she is universally described by all that know as having ‘character’ because she loves to dance and she doesn’t care who knows it!


I’ve know Diana for three years now – she was one of the first children we supported when I set up the education grants scheme with ActionAid Uganda in 2009 – she has been in nursery and has just (4 weeks ago now) enrolled in to pre-primary class preparing to be streamed into primary.

Her teacher tells me “Diana is very active in class – she is the first to put her hand up and is never shy about coming to the front. She really enjoys being in school

It made me smile, I hope you enjoy it too.

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VIDEO: the amazing and inspiring people we work with

To really understand the reality of life in the slums of Kampala and the amazing and inspiring people we are working with watch this film NOW!

Florence, Regina, Jaliya and Emma show you what inspired us to start our litttle project in this short film.

Awamu is dedicated to helping Regina, and her network of women, protect and care for children like Jaliya.

As you will see their support means the difference between life and death for many in their community.

We’re now trying to raise more money to:

  • set up an income generation training programme to help more women like Regina who are taking on the care of orphaned children
  • support more orphaned children with the basics they need to be able to enroll in primary school

If you would like to get involved by making a donation or have any bright ideas for helping us to raise more money we really want to hear – please get in touch!

A special thank you to Ian Warren for finishing this before heading back to Uganda.

Happy Christmas one and all!


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Video: London to Paris – the movie!

Awamu – London to Paris Ride by Stefan Goodchild

Our team mate Stefan has just just finished editing this small film of our EPIC London to Paris adventure in August.

13 (lovely) people cycled nearly 180 miles over three days through unseasonal rain and wind, we had twelve punctures (two within 20 minutes!) and raised over £15,000 which will support 20 orphaned children like Sentongo and Nagawa in Kampala, enabling them to complete their primary education.

What do you think – fancy joining us on our next challenge in 2012??

Get in touch if you do.

Big thanks and love to Team Awamu: Stefan (filming and cycling!), Kerry, Ian, Tim, Amy, Ben, David, Sam, Joe, Anna, Bernat and Steve (and Emma)….and EVERYONE that sponsored us, came to our events, bought our cakes and took part on our raffles.

Bring on the next challenge!