Where we came from
The idea of the women’s desk was suggested to CWM- Mbuya by the Women’s Club in Germany during one of their visits. Their reasoning was that the women needed space to express themselves away from the main movement and address issues unique to them like spirituality, morality and economic productivity. They also felt that success among the female members of CWM-Mbuya would eventually spill over to the main movement and cause it to grow even further.
Following the above advice, in the year 2000, the Women’s Desk under CWM-Mbuya was born.
The Women’s Desk’s first project was catering unit initiated in 2002 as a result of parishioners appreciating the food the women had cooked for Parish Day celebrations. The Parish Priest added his voice to that of the parishioners by encouraging the women to start cooking commercially. From humble beginnings of each woman bringing her sigiri and utensils to cook, the Women’s Desk has grown to the level of having a fully fledged catering unit even offering outside catering services. We have served up to 800 people in one contract both local and international. Initially, Utensils like food warmers were partly sponsored by our partners in Germany and the International Women an organization comprised of mostly ambassadors’ wives. The international Women have also supported the acquisition of cutlery and some food containers.
The Women’s Desk has other projects including making and selling of crafts as well as life skills development training in areas like tailoring and designing, healthy cooking, craft making, decorating, entrepreneurship, financial management, healthy living and customer care, among others.
And in the spirit of working together in solidarity, the Women’s Desk also carries out works of mercy by contributing to different causes for example we have supported in the rehabilitation of our brothers in need whenever we have been called upon to do so. The Women’s desk has also contributed financially to the Banda Priest’s house construction project in addition to supporting our partner base group in Lugazi Parish-Mukono to start a catering unit called John Paul II Development Initiative. We supported them in buying cooking utensils, like source pans, plates and mugs. We have kept in touch with them to follow their progress and support them where need be.
And in line with our core value of being voice of the voiceless, the Women’s Desk celebrates the International Women’s Day by recognizing women who work hard but are hardly noticed or appreciated within Mbuya Parish, an act we have done in the past couple of years. For instance, this year, the women’s desk went to St. Kizito schools in Bugolobi. And with the help of the administration in each school, three teaching staffs and five non-teaching staffs from each school were recognized and awarded for their hard work. Telling their stories, demonstrates what work in the Christian context is all about and encourages others to emulate them.
Benefits of the Women’s Desk
These activities have helped members improve their livelihoods through giving them a source of income as well as improving their family well-being. Skills development training is done by both local and international experts in different areas like cuisines, craft making, tailoring, savings, and book keeping. Members’ skills have also improved through working within a group made of members with diverse skills.
As a result of such skills development training, some of the women have actually started their own business motivated by the capital they have got through the movement activities. The women also, have got their self-esteem raised since they can now provide for their families. And at the end of the year, they are given a small token of appreciation of their hard their hard work.
Membership in the Women’s Desk provides the women with a platform for networking with potential customers, some of them even get jobs through such networks. And in this way we have stayed true to our core value of ‘help to self-help’.
The Women’s Desk has given the women a chance to develop a go-getter attitude in their dealings with their communities and clients. They also have a sense of belonging; they no longer feel alone in facing life’s challenges like domestic, spiritual and economic issues.
The Women’s Desk has fulfilled the dreams of its founders and the people who encouraged them to start by contributing to CWM-Mbuya’s growth. It has done this through recruiting women to join the Women’s Desk. And creating fertile ground for the birth of the Youth Desk and together both desks have led to the increase in the number of projects and members of the Movement. The women’s desk leads the CWM-Mbuya team in organizing the main Movement activities like Feast day celebrations, works of mercy among others.
Despite these successes, the Women’s Desk faces challenges in achieving their goals like limited market for their services and products including outside catering and crafts respectively. There are still so many things the catering unit needs like an oven so that they don’t have to incur the cost of hiring one to prepare some items on client’s menus and a deep freezer to reduce on the number of times the women need to shop for fresh produce and meat. A fire extinguisher in case of a fire and a vehicle to transport the food to the different venues. The women still need more training to increase the number of recipes they can prepare and improve the quality, presentation styles of food they currently prepare besides menu setting. Generally such training would increase the number of cuisines the women are good at. More women would like to join the group but the projects we have at the moment can’t adequately cater for extra people.
The Women’s Desk is working on creative ways to solve these challenges and expand the existing projects and even come up with new ones. There is a lot of potential for growth in terms of membership as well as projects and we welcome all who wish to join in this great cause, each of you in your unique ways according to your capacities and interests.