Man joins CFCA mothers group in Uganda
November 18, 2011
The CFCA Tweyambe mothers group in Uganda.
Jjuuko, the father of CFCA sponsored child Joreme and five other children, joined a CFCA mothers group in Masaka, Uganda, to grow passion fruit and eucalyptus trees.
It may seem contradictory for a father to belong to a mothers group, but it is not prohibited.
"We don't restrict men from joining mothers groups," said CFCA's Janet Tinsley. "We encourage the project to support the mothers." Tinsley is a CFCA project director for Kenya, where mothers groups have been operating for four years.
Jjuuko and his family in Uganda.
A man among mothers
The CFCA project teams have to be vigilant to make sure that the introduction of a man (or men) in a small group does not take away from the empowerment of the mothers.
"In male-dominated societies, the mothers group may be the only space the women have to develop decision making and leadership skills," Tinsley said. "It is a delicate balance, and many men would not accept women as leaders."
Jjuuko joined the Tweyambe group looking for a way to generate a monthly income. Tweyambe group is very productive. In addition to the passion fruit project, members raise eucalyptus seedlings and vegetables.
The group chose to harvest passion fruit because it is an easy crop to manage and a ready market exists.
Ugandans have many uses for passion fruit. Passion fruit juice is made at home and sold at juice stands. The fruit's leaves are used to treat malaria and to treat stomach pains in newborns.
See a recipe from the group for making passion fruit juice.
Harvesting passion fruit is a six- to nine-month process. Harvests are done weekly. On average, the Tweyambe group harvests one sack, or about 800 fruits, per month, and sells the fruit to consumers and local businesses in town or to customers who visit the farm.
Jjuuko helps prune and clear trees in passion fruit beds. He also attends economic development and agriculture workshops hosted by the government and shares his knowledge with the other members.
Added group benefits
Besides Jjuuko, the group has mothers from 30 families. Members benefit from the extra income they earn from their projects and from skills they learn in the group.
"In being a part of the group, I have learned cooperation and teamwork as well as being able to speak in public," said Bernadeta, the mother of CFCA sponsored children Ruth and Noelina.
Membership rules for CFCA mothers groups are defined at the local level and formalized in the group's bylaws. The bylaws for Tweyambe, the group Jjuuko joined, permit up to five fathers, but the men may not hold leadership positions.
Jjuuko struggled with the rules restricting him from taking on a leadership position.
"Given our [attitudes] that women are inferior to men, this was really difficult for me to accept at the beginning," Jjuuko said. "After being explained as to why it is so, I appreciated the situation and am now satisfied with the way things work."
During group meetings, members discuss finances and issues related to their projects. They also advise each other on their problems.
Bernadeta said that being a part of the Tweyambe group has taught her how to save and budget for her children's individual needs.
The members continue to work hard and plan to increase and enlarge the eucalyptus nursery. They understand the importance of women and men working together in their community.
Information for this article was compiled by Christine Naluyima, CFCA coordinator for the Masaka community where the Tweyambe group is located.