Roses of Mbuya: changing the girl-child experience

By: Michael Buwembo, Community Support Officer-ROM

Reach Out Mbuya Parish HIV/AIDS Initiative (ROM) has a unique holistic approach to care for the body, mind, family, and community needs of the beneficiaries; restoring hope to the hopeless, good health to the sick and offers dignified living to the affected. Emulating the holistic model in all our community interventions, ROM has offered economic strengthening services to the young mothers through the Roses of Mbuya workshop, an income-generating tailoring entity that supports vulnerable and HIV-positive women and their families.

For the last 15 years, under Roses of Mbuya workshop, community support remains at the core of ROM’s brand and business. We strive to create an inclusive and safe place for girl child especially one who is infected or affected by HIV/AIDS to be able to live her best.

The linkage between the workshop and community served provides a stepping stone for alignment to the vision of ROM, which focuses on envisioning a community free of the spread of HIV where persons already infected and affected by HIV and AIDS are living positively with an improved quality of life.

Commitment to the vision has enabled Roses of Mbuya to attract valuable partnerships with prominent organizations and groups like Population Services International, SIDECOLE, Stephen Lewis Foundation, Help Age International, Our Lady of Africa Mbuya Church parishioners, St. Kizito Schools-Bugolobi, Reach Out Mbuya staff, and the general public.

From the trust and goodwill of our partners, Roses of Mbuya regularly receives tailoring contracts including making school uniforms, a wide range of clothes for women, men and children, household and educational items and reusable face masks.

The money generated from these ventures is used to support households within Nakawa division. It is used to facilitate the household members, especially the girl child to reach full potential through participating in gainful employment and apprenticeship. Amidst their levels of vulnerability, Roses of Mbuya gives priority to vulnerability and HIV positive status as perimeters for eligibility to benefit from the money generated.

Today, Roses of Mbuya has 10 trained seamstresses with a strong network of other ROM beneficiaries who started their own tailoring businesses within and outside Nakawa division. Once big contracts are acquired, work is done at the workshop and through our network of tailors who are also ROM clients and OVC.

During this trying moment amidst phased COVID-19 lockdown with a number of children affected by not going to school, some young adults in our community have been given the opportunity to work for piece rate at the workshop. They help out in ironing, trimming, reaping and packing finished products. Given our work environment, they are provided with the opportunity to learn about HIV/AIDS prevention and a lot more under the holistic care model. This gesture has helped to nurture the spirit of belonging in the community starting with the girl child and young people in general.

At Roses of Mbuya we advocate that every single day a vulnerable child especially the girl child can have an impact at any stage of their vocation and lives. We encourage them to use the workshop as a platform to have and use their voice, listen, and act using their skills. We want to be a brand that can partner with others that will have an impact to change the narrative of people affected and infected with HIV/AIDs especially through providing a platform for participation in gainful employment.

As published in the Leadership Magazine Issue No; 606.

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