September/October 2014            


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In This Update...

  • Combined Federal Giving Campaign in Full Swing - WMI #40340
  • Chilmark Chocolates Supports WMI
  • WMI Fall and Spring Internships in Buyobo, Uganda
  • Loan Program Expands in Atiak, Uganda
  • Newly Minted Trainers Teach First Lessons in Kenya Loan Hub

WMI Participates in the Combined Federal Giving Campaign - # 40340

Once again WMI is participating in the Combined Federal Giving Campaign, which is now in full swing until the end of the year.  This annual employee giving campaign at federal agencies has been a wonderfully reliable source of annual contributions for our organization. 


For the fourth year in a row, WMI will headline an agency-wide event at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). FERC attorney Linda Gilbert, a long-time WMI supporter, introduced WMI to the agency's CFC co-coordinator, Ed Gingold, who has reached out to WMI and invited us back each year. WMI appreciates the chance to introduce its mission and goals to more and more FERC staff each year!


If you are a federal employee, please consider contributing to WMI through the CFC. 


 Chilmark Chocolates Supports WMI

Through Hannah Kahl, WMI's Resource Fellow in Buyobo in 2012-2013, Chilmark Chocolates in Martha's Vineyard, MA learned about WMI's work with village women in East Africa. The chocolate company is known for its fabulous hand-made candies, policy of employing developmentally challenged youth and adults, and supporting a different non-profit each month. 


WMI was pleased to be selected as one of the non-profits and we received a very generous donation of $2,500 from the company. The ladies in Buyobo made signs thanking Chilmark Chocolates for their support and took a picture of themselves holding up their thank you posters.


This past August, WMI president Robyn Nietert, visited Chilmark Chocolates and was able to deliver the thank you photo to the staff and co-owner, Marybeth Grady. Marybeth told Robyn that she had never before received such an enthusiastic thank you from the non-profits the company has supported over the years! The photo of our BWA ladies now hangs in the Chilmark Chocolates shop (a woman-owned business). It is a symbol of how WMI is a catalyst for village women in East Africa to develop connections with other business women around the world. They all share the common goal of trying to provide a better future for themselves and their families.



WMI Fall and Spring Internships in Buyobo, Uganda

The promotion a few months ago of WMI Resource Fellow, Melissa LaRue, to Finance Director for East Africa, and her commitment to reside in Buyobo for another year, has made it possible for WMI to expand its internship program to include fall and spring interns in addition to our usual program for summer interns. The recently added 4-6 month long-term internships in our East Africa headquarters are open to college students, graduate students or recent graduates. Applications for the Spring 2015 internship are being accepted. The exact timing of the internship is flexible between January - June 2015. Further information is available on the web site.   Spring 2015 Internship


Interns are a huge asset to the WMI loan program.  They bring an enthusiasm for our mission and help us expand our local infrastructure through development of our village-level human resources. 


The fall internship has been filled by Nicole Bolliger. A Swiss resident, Nicole (far left in photo) recently graduated from the University of Geneva with a Bachelor's degree in International Relations. She has been providing systems operations support and training to the ladies in Buyobo and travelling to the outlying loan hubs with Melissa, Olive and the WMI team to help with loan issuance.  She is enjoying working with the ladies and learning about village life - including the challenging custom of transporting gourds on one's head.




Loan Program Expands in Atiak, Uganda

With construction completed on the new WMI building in Atiak, the loan program has been able to expand its activities. In October, a new group of borrowers from Pachilo village, adjacent to South Sudan, joined the loan program. They were the first group of borrowers trained in the newly completed building. The building is a wonderful resource for the loan program and the local community. It was made possible through a generous grant from the Towards Sustainability Foundation and by the fundraising efforts of Hannah Kahl and Lila Fischer through the organization they founded: Local Women, Global Mission. WMI is enormously grateful for the ongoing support of both organizations.



WMI Intern Nicole Bolliger traveled with the WMI team to Atiak and was able to hold a workshop there on how to make Resuable Menstrual Pads (RUMPS). Girls often use unsanitary materials when menstruating because they are not able to afford proper sanitary napkins. In addition, they are embarrassed to attend school when menstruating so they often stay at home, which causes them to miss weeks of school during the year. With RUMPs girls are able to have a sanitary option to use when menstruating, and they are also able to attend school. The women seem to enjoy making the RUMPs and it provides an opportunity for them to discuss health issues that impact them and their families.


Newly Minted Trainers Teach First Lessons in Kenya Loan Hub



WMI has developed a program to train local women in all of the loan hubs to take on the responsibility of providing the business and skills training for new and follow up borrowers in their loan hubs. This means they will be able to train in their local languages, eliminating the need for a translator and the loss of meaning that inevitably happens with translations. It will also streamline operations and save costs to have local trainers resident in each loan hub.


WMI has organized week long workshops in its headquarters in Buyobo, Uganda to provide the training instruction to the local loan hub staff. The ladies from the Kenya loan hubs traveled to Buyobo in May for their training. It was quite an adventure and challenge to arrange the logistics for these ladies to arrive in Buyobo since many of them had never traveled outside of their village area, let alone their country; but, they all arrived eventually and completed the workshop. This training program is now bearing fruit. 

In October, the ladies in the Chanuka CBO provided business and skills training to borrowers in their Shikokho, Kenya loan hub. Melissa reported that the new trainers were confident, kept the borrowers engaged, and touched on all aspects of the subjects taught. They had the borrowers on their feet involved in skits to illustrate important points. WMI is very encouraged that the local ladies are so enthusiastic, competent and involved in training their peers in the loan program.








Each of you reading this Newsletter has helped make WMI a success. On behalf of all the rural women of East Africa that WMI serves: THANK YOU! With your continued support, we look forward to bringing the benefits of the WMI loan program to even greater numbers of impoverished women this year so that they can create a better life for themselves and their families.





The WMI Board of Directors


Robyn Nietert          rgnietert@aol.com  

Betsy Gordon          betsygord@mac.com
Deborah Smith        deborahwsmith@yahoo.com

June Kyakobye        jgkyakobye@yahoo.com

Trix Vandervossen   bvandervossen@imf.org 

Jane Erickson          ericksonjn@verizon.net
Terry Ciccotelli        terryciccotelli@gmail.com