One of the greatest dreams of the members of BeadforLife is to own their own homes. For women living in extreme poverty, owning a home means security and peace of mind knowing that they now have a place to call home, land to grow food to feed their families, and a permanent place to be inherited by their children.
When they entered the program, most women lived in one room mud huts with dirt floors and tin roofs that leaked when the rains came. As many as 10 people would crowd into these small spaces which served as bedroom, kitchen, and living area.
Brick by brick
Where yesterday there was nothing but pasture, today a village with homes for 132 impoverished Ugandan families has been built. Started as a collaboration with Habitat for Humanity, the BeadforLife Friendship Village has risen near Mukono, a town about 12 kilometers from Kampala. Shovelful by shovelful, brick by brick, beaders have enthusiastically built their own and each others’ homes. As one beader says: “If you own a home, you are never really poor.”
The Friendship Village has its own governance committee with nine officers who oversee everything from security to youth programs, along with a community building and soccer field, which are available to all.
Creating a community
Friendship Village contains small ‘neighborhoods’ comprised of 6 – 10 homes each around a central open space. The houses were built with fired bricks, a raised foundation, cement flooring, and a roof made with strong iron sheets. Most have two bedrooms and a living area, and all have a ventilated two-pit latrine and bathing area. The homes do not have running water or electricity, but there are two hand-pump wells producing clean, cool water in the village. Women have planted flowers and vegetables around their homes, creating kitchen gardens and a lush landscape.
After building their homes, women were able to pay off their mortgage in beads, and were then granted the deed to the home and the plot of land below it. These women join a tiny percentage of female land-owners around the world who own the legal title to their land. The deed ceremonies were joyous occasions that called for a community wide celebration.
Building Friendship Village was filled with many triumphs and challenges. At this point, BeadforLife does not envision another community-wide housing project. Instead, we support the efforts of individual women to build a home in their ancestral village or on a plot of land they purchase.
132 Women Homeowners!
Through their own hard work Beaders were able to able to build their homes and pay their mortgage off through bead sales. They all now own their own home and an acre of lush land to grow food and feed themselves.