Many women come to Amani ya Juu in Nairobi as refugees. They live out their days waiting to return to their home country. They know the desperation of their homes — the immense need for skills, jobs, trusted and supportive communities, and a peace that transcends the pain of their world. New Amani centers are born when women who have been transformed by Christ’s peace are compelled to return to their home countries to share their hope.
This year, we proudly announce the establishment of a new Amani center: Amani Uganda! The work came to life through the vision of Simprosa Acayo, a longtime Amani Kenya family member. Like many Ugandans, Simprosa fled her country to escape the deadly reach of Joseph Kony and his brutal rebel militia, whose notorious abductions of children for use as soldiers and sex slaves wreaked havoc in northern Uganda in recent years. Simprosa took refuge in Kenya, where she married her husband, set up a temporary home, gave birth to three children, and found a place to work and heal at Amani.
BUILDING A NEW AMANI COMMUNITY
After after living in exile for ten years, Simprosa and her family decided to move back to Gulu in northern Uganda in 2008. Much work was needed to rebuild her hometown. They worked for a local NGO supporting needy women with HIV/AIDS.
It soon became apparent that the program lacked the holistic approach needed to reach the vulnerable women in the community. Women like Jackline suffering from intense trauma did not have a safe place where they could truly heal. The hopelessness and destitution of so many women around her prompted Simprosa to pray. “As I prayed about it, I really felt for those ladies who had no place to turn,” she reflects.
Ayoo Jackline is an Amani Uganda trainee. Her story is emblematic of many young women in northern Uganda whose lives have been shaped by Uganda’s brutal conflict.
At 16, life changed suddenly for Jackline when she was abducted by rebel soldiers while cooking in her home. She found herself walking long distances in the bush, carrying heavy loads, and sometimes suffering the humiliation of being forced to dance for the soldiers. She was taken to South Sudan, where she and other abducted women were divided among the troops as wives. Jackline’s “husband” mistreated her and beat her severely until he was sent to the war front, where he was killed.
Left alone without a provider, she soon became very sick. One day her camp was attacked by government forces, and Jackline found her chance to escape. She reached a trading center where she met civilians fetching water. They brought her to an organization caring for former abductees.
Today, Jackline continues to deal with the intense trauma she experienced at the hands of the rebel soldiers. Amani Uganda offers her a safe, caring place to slowly heal and rediscover her worth as a loved and gifted woman.
“This is one of the many ordeals these ladies went through. Let’s continue to pray for them as they come out of the trauma and learn that it’s only God’s peace within that can heal.” – Simprosa
Simprosa knew that a community like Amani was just what these women needed. And she knew she that she was the one who could help bring it to life in remote Gulu, through her experience, empathy, and gifting. She went back to the place where she first gained the skills and vision to train and empower other women, the community where she encountered Christ as healer — her Amani family in Kenya.
Simprosa told the Amani leaders what she was witnessing in Gulu and shared her hope to establish a center in Uganda. Amani Kenya immediately came alongside Simprosa, providing her with training and initial capital for materials, equipment, and paying trainees.
With seed money for raw materials, two sewing machines, and a cutting table, Amani Uganda was born in June of 2011. Simprosa and two others worked together in a one-room house to save up for growth. Now, there are three ladies working full-time and several more who join them occasionally.
Like their Amani sisters elsewhere, Amani Uganda sets aside part of each day to read the Bible and pray. Discipleship and trauma rehabilitation are important components of the program at this center.
WHERE IS AMANI UGANDA NOW? Amani Uganda has developed a line of beautiful products using colors and fabrics unique to its region, including vibrant Ugandan kikoy. Specialties include wall hangings, bags, Christmas ornaments, and clergy stoles. The ladies are excited about their work and proud of their creations. They say that this new and creative work gives them hope.
This resilient group is determined to bring change to their community and knows that this change begins with the peace of Christ within each person. They envision God’s peace can reaching many through their small group. They are committed to passing hope and purpose to their communities.
While Amani Uganda’s challenges are many, Simprosa is not discouraged. Her deep desire to see women in her region flourish encourages her to overcome the obstacles they face through prayer and faith. Simprosa is working to find local markets, export channels, growth capital, and a full-sized workshop.
GOALS FOR THE COMING YEAR
● Strategic Growth. Capture the local market with a well- developed product line while strategizing for export.
● Spiritual Formation. Provide a safe place where women discover their identity in Christ and experience God’s transcendent peace in their lives.
● Financial Stability. Increase sales and seek start-up capital to provide for up-front expenses such as trainee pay, raw material stock, rent, and local administration costs.
YOU CAN COME ALONGSIDE AMANI UGANDA!
Just as each new Amani center has been brought to life through the generosity of partners, Amani Uganda is seeking supporters to aid in the establishment of this new center. This work cannot be accomplished alone. As the center continues to get off the ground, the Amani family asks you to consider making a gift toward these practical needs such as these:
● New trainee sewing kit | $20
● Treadle Sewing machines | $150
● Heavy electric sewing machines | $500
● Furniture (cutting tables, stools, shelves) | $1,000
● Generator | $2,500
● Production space for one year | $5,000
Tax-deductible gifts can be made at Amani’s Online Shop or mailed to Amani Foundation PO Box 28133 Chattanooga, TN 37424. Please make checks payable to Amani Foundation with “Amani Uganda” in the memo line.
Afoyo matec! Thank you very much!