5 Lessons from Empowering a Ugandan Community


5 Lessons from Empowering a Ugandan Community

5 Lessons from Empowering a Ugandan Community
Greetings from Uganda! 
Over the past 10 days, our Exchangers (participants of the EXCHANGE Program) led the 2017 Leadership Forum at The Glow Effect Centre for Women & Girls in Kasaali, Uganda.
Uganda Centre
So let’s get the typical questions out of the way first:
Was it amazing? Yes.
How were the conditions? We did not have flushing toilets or electricity, but had a home with a solid roof, comfy beds with mosquito nets, clean water, and local food. Safety issues were never a concern. In fact, we felt more protected and safer in this community than we often do in our hometowns.
Are we excited to return to our hometowns? We have mixed feelings of missing home and loving our new one.
Tell me more about it. We will, but we need some significant time to process the transformation.
Until then, we’ve compiled a list of the five main lessons that we learned during this experience. We hope they provide you some insight into Uganda, the work of The Glow Exchange (The Glow Effect’s non-profit initiative), and empowering your loved ones.

1. Shift from a poverty mindset to a dignity mindset. 

What is the opposite of poverty? The answer is not wealth. If the problem were simply the case of income, we could give the poor money and be done with it.
The opposite of poverty is dignity.
Dignity means feeling like you have value and something to offer the world. Dignity is the most fundamental of human rights— to be seen, to be counted, to be free.
“Defining our success not by the income we amass but by the dignity we cultivate — in ourselves and others — thus presents the greatest hope for the future of our species and our planet.” -Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder and CEO of Acumen
Members of The Glow Effect Centre in Kasaali and the Exchange team discovered their dignity mindset by eliminating extreme focus on all the things that they don’t have. Rather, they focused on the things they DO have — a wealth present in natural resources and ourselves.
Tracy shot
“Kasaali allowed me to tap into the encyclopedia inside my head, which my team now calls ‘tracyisms.’ With my brain and the brilliant Centre’s members, our discoveries were endless, including making a mop out of old t-shirts, food storage containers and an irrigation system out of recycled bottles. There is so much human potential and so many resources in every person and community — its just a matter of opening your creative mind to tap into the abundance of opportunities.” -Tracy Saggus, 2017 Exchanger. Australia.

2. Make it fun!

If development — personal or community — isn’t fun and stimulating, then no one will want to do it.
Heavy discussions and expressive emotions were aplenty, so we made sure to spend lots of time dancing and having fun.
group dancing

3. Start with and continually return to the value of integrity.

When we began The Glow Effect Centre for Women & Girls two years ago, day one, lesson one was integrity.
We learned that integrity does not mean morality. Integrity means wholeness — being one with your word, i.e. if you believe in your community, then service to your community comes through all of your actions.
Again and again, we revisited this fundamental concept as the bond that committed us to our vision.
saren talking to group

4. Community development begins with women and extends to the men and children.

Women are the core — the heart — of any community, which is why we named it “The Glow Effect Centre for Women & Girls.”
Indeed, they need to know their potential for the world to change, yet without getting men and children on board, community development is incomplete.
brit high five
“I co-created the Kid’s and Men’s curriculums for The Glow Effect Centre for Women and Girls and I quickly realized that the men and kids didn’t quite understand how they fit into the overall picture of community development. After the workshops, each person became aware of the value he adds to the community and when he stays in integrity with that responsibility, everyone can’t help but grow and thrive.” -Britney L. Clark, 2017 Exchanger. USA.


5. Release trying to save. Choose to lead.

We consciously did not enter this community wanting to “save them” or thinking that we know how to grow their community better than they know how.
We were there to take a stand for the power of women and girls. This means being the example strength, seeing possibilities where others see scarcity, and believing in their potential until they have realized it for themselves.
laura with group
“After collaborating with these exceptionally strong women, I know now that empowerment is NOT about saving anyone. No one actually needs to be saved… I need to lead.” -Laura Poko, 2017 Exchanger. USA.
Thank you again for all you have contributed physically, financially, and energetically to The Glow Effect Centre in Uganda and taking a stand for women’s leadership worldwide.
Our next EXCHANGE Program begins in June with a trip to Peru in Sept/Oct… Stay tuned!
Love and glow,
group gomesi
Saren Stiegel, Founder of The Glow Effect + 2017 Kasaali Exchange Team

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