Empowerment is Happening
It was the day before graduation, and there was a palpable excitement in the air. The first thing I remember hearing after pulling into our compound in Gulu, Uganda was a chorus of excited voices. The van we arrived in received an incredible greeting - women came pouring out of doorways and from around corners to greet us, and we were shaking hands and embracing hugs before we had even stepped out of the car. I had never felt so welcome in a place I had never been before. As Digital Marketing Manager for Krochet Kids intl., I have seen just about every photo and video that has been shot at our compound, and even though I had been there many times in my mind, there's nothing quite like being there to experience the warm air, red dirt on the ground, and speaking with beneficiaries and staff alike.
Myself, along with our Sales Director, Jill, and our Retail Manager, Michelle, all embarked on our first visit to Krochet Kids Uganda together in honor of graduation. We got to finally greet the women we had seen time and time again on our website, meet the women who had made some of our favorite products, and tour the facility with commentary from our incredible mentors.
The very next day, 40 women graduated from our program at Krochet Kids Uganda
. Music and dancing almost always go hand-in-hand, and ladies were getting their groove on well before the celebration had officially started. Waves of colorful patterned dresses and smiles rippled across courtyard of our empowerment project. Past graduates had returned to watch their friends join their alumni status, and brand new beneficiaries admired the ladies adorned with their "Congratulations!" sashes rejoice in their special day. Entertainment was not in short supply - our Country Director Idro Dominic along with one of our mentors Susie opened the ceremony with words of encouragement. Shortly after, the children that attend past graduate Lamunu Kevin's
daycare sang several songs, and our very own dance team and choir performed beautifully. I don't think I stopped smiling the entire time.
Each woman that was graduating had her name called and she walked towards Idro Dominic, our mentors, and our Production Director Arthur to get her certificate. Whenever a lady's name was called, the most incredible thing would happen - ladies everywhere in the audience would stand up and run towards the graduate, shouting in excitement, embracing one another, and joining her in her walk towards her certificate. The unity displayed was nothing short of inspiring. As beneficiaries, they all share a similar experience in our program. Many of them are learning what it means to run a business, new skills, and have access to certain resources for the first time. As much as their journey is individually unique, they are all in it together, and support one another through their time with us. In addition to jobs, education, and mentorship, these women have incredible relationships with fellow beneficiaries and mentors alike. These friendships are just one part of the incredible support system they gain in our program and take with them when they graduate.
Graduation is an exciting time, but there is also a sense of uncertainty that comes with any new chapter. One graduate, Oyella Santa Vicki
, told me that she is nervous because she can no longer rely on Krochet Kids Uganda to provide for her, it now has to come from herself, " scares me, but inside myself, I know I can do it." Many women echoed her feelings, but noted that in addition to skills and resources, our program helped them realize their own capabilities, and the confidence that comes with self-reliance. I am so proud of the work these women poured into our organization and themselves, and I feel inspired and encouraged seeing the results of our work. Empowerment is happening, and graduation is only the beginning.
- Hannah Rosen
Digital Marketing Manager