Luweero Independence Day Celebrations and Reach Out Grandmothers Market; A tale of hard work and perseverance against the odds.

By Geraldine Kauma.

Friday 28th October was the day when Luweero District had its celebrations to commemorate  Uganda’s Independence Day which was on 9th October.

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At the school play ground where the celebrations were held, the flags fluttered beautifully in the scorching sun, a drama team entertained the guests and you could feel the excitement in the air.

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Grandmothers from the Kasaala project of Reach Out HIV/AIDS Initiative and other guests waited patiently for the guests of honor to arrive.

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It was also the day for the grand mothers’ market and the grandmothers flocked in as early as 6am ready with their goods and items for sale. These grandmothers have undergone various skills training to encourage them to be self reliant and not over dependent on hand outs. They had not only farm produce, but also liquid soap and body butters infused with herbal goodness that they had made from the training that they received. They also had mats, baskets and other household items.

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Ivan, one of the Reach Out staff helping the grandmothers price their mats.
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Hand woven mats on display
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Liquid soap and body butters made by the grandmothers on display
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Fresh farm produce on display

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The event finally started at around 11am with a march, led by the police and army band. It included the Police team, Primary and secondary schools in Luweero district as well as  service providers in the different sectors including transport, micro-finance and health.

The different groups marched through the field proudly, their banners raised high  amidst cheers from the spectators in the tents.

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The UPDF army during the march

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The Grandmothers team together with the Reach Out Kasaala HIV/AIDS Initiative were placed at the back as the final team in the march and also gathered the most cheers, this was thanks to the sole Nabunjo Cortilida , a 91 year old grandmother who in spite of being much slower than her other counterparts managed to march on happily and  and wave to the officials.

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The grandmothers during the march

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Nabunjo behind her counter parts 

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Nabunjo even attracted one of the UPDF soldiers with Red Cross to give her some water

Nabunjo, is one of the over 1,000 grandmothers in the Reach Out grandmothers project mainly funded by Stephen Lewis Foundation in Kasaala- Luweero, a largely impoverished community in which Reach Out operates, to provide various services to them including free medical support through drugs and checkups as well as referrals, construction and renovation  of pit latrines, houses as well as educational support to their dependents most of whom are grandchildren who have been orphaned by the AIDS scourge, leaving them in the care of grandparents.

After the march, the Guest of honor, Minister without Portfolio, Hajji Abdul Nadduli, inspected the guard of honor.

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The minister went ahead to inspect the different stalls that had exhibited at the grounds and the staff of Reach Out provided information materials and the grandmothers had a chance to showcase their items and even managed to sell him some products, a mat and some body butter.

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Hajji Nadduli interacting with Reach Out staff at their stall 
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The grandmothers sorting the mats

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He applauded the grandmothers for being hard working and urged them to keep on being innovative since it was such acts that encouraged people to support them instead of simply asking for handouts.

He also expressed dismay at the fact that able-bodied  youth today end up engaging in dubious activities  like alcoholism, sports betting and robbery, which leaves the frail grandmothers to do the work and earn a living.

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Nadduli addressing the grandmothers

The day proceeded with speeches from the various dignitaries.

Well done to the grandmothers!

Happy  54th  Independence Anniversary to Uganda 🙂

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