The Kinawataka Women Initiatives has trained over 734 women in Kampala, Gulu and eastern Uganda to create products made from used straws. The women employed by KIWOI are among societyâ€™s most disenfranchised. KIWOI seeks to work with marginalized women such as single mothers, women living with HIV and the disabled. These groups of women are particularly vulnerable as they often struggle alone to earn enough income to provide for their families and afford healthcare. In addition to financial and health difficulties, many of the women facing the above challenges are often stigmatized by their society.
The income generated by the sale of straw bags gives them power within their household and community while keeping them from extreme poverty. The women are paid for each part of the production process; additionally, KIWOI supports the women through a partnership with Reach Out. The clinic provides HIV and other health services free of charge to women working with KIWOI.
Jane is a young mother who has been trained by Benedicta, the founder of Kinawataka Womenâ€™s Initiative. She described how the organization has a positive impact on here life noting, â€œI can sit here for the day with my friends and my baby is next to me. I weave a long strip of straws and I can choose to sell the strip to the Kinawataka group today and I receive enough money to buy eight meals.â€
Angela another weaver, who is HIV positive, explained: â€œIf I am not doing this and grow things to sell, I can loose that thing when it goes soft or if there are other people selling the same thing. If I cannot sell it this week I loose my stock and all my effort. With the straws, I can sell the strip today or do more work sewing the bags and mats together. They donâ€™t go bad and my work has value today or next week. Kinawataka taught me how to make the straws into mats and bags and my life is good.â€