Woman with the Red Dress

Woman with the Red Dress

Mothers in Uganda are often the primary caregivers for their children, responsible for ensuring that they have food, clothing, shelter, and education, but they face many challenges. One of the biggest challenges faced by mothers in Uganda is poverty as Uganda is one of the poorest countries in the world, with a significant proportion of the population living below the poverty line. This can make it difficult for mothers to provide for their families, particularly if they are single mothers or if they have lost their partners to illness or conflict. There is limited access to healthcare. Maternal mortality rates in Uganda are high, due in part to inadequate healthcare facilities and a lack of trained medical personnel making it difficult for mothers to access prenatal care, safe childbirth, and postnatal care for themselves and their children. Additionally, mothers in Uganda often face discrimination and marginalization on the basis of their gender. They may have limited access to education and employment opportunities and may be subjected to gender-based violence and other forms of abuse.

Liliana -- the Woman with the Red Dress

As Mother’s Day comes ever closer, I’d like to spotlight two mothers in Uganda who against all odds truly changed an entire village, Liliana and her daughter Evelyn. Many years ago in the western Buhoma region of Uganda where the mountain gorillas are found, Liliana was determined that all her children receive an education. She was known as the “woman with the red dress” as that’s basically the only dress she had. She would wash it and wear it over and over.

Evelyn's Graduation

As I mentioned above, there are significant challenges to motherhood in Uganda which often makes providing an education for their children almost impossible. Evelyn’s mother amazingly made that a reality for all her children. Evelyn went to school and then onto Makerere University in Kampala where she received a Bachelors degree in Tourism. While living in Kampala her mother Liliana asked her to come home to help create a better future for the women of her village. Buhoma is fairly remote and thus the opportunities for women then and now in that area are very limited. There is widespread HIV and poverty which often leads to domestic violence.

Evelyn left the capital city, headed home to fulfill her mother’s dream, and in 2009 Evelyn Habasa and her husband, Denis Rubalema founded Ride 4 A Woman. The mission began with renting bikes to tourists who came to trek with the mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. With help from several women who met Evelyn on their trips to that area, their mission expanded to sewing and weaving beautiful items to sell to people who stop in after their treks.

Evelyn and her Daughter

That’s exactly how Ginger and I met Evelyn and the amazing women there. That is in fact where Ginger and I had our Aha Moment and the seed was planted for Intertwined! Ride 4 A Woman has changed so many lives. Many women who suffered abuse have been able to move out of that home into a safe place for themselves and their children. Evelyn tries to educate their husbands about how proud they should be of their wives by earning a living and supporting their families rather than being ashamed that they themselves could not accomplish that on their own. Those women who have not been able to completely escape their situation still find refuge at the community center, are given a good meal, dance and sing all while learning to pedal sew and weave enabling them to earn a living and educate their children. Over 300 women from 11 villages have been positively impacted by this organization! When we were there, it was obvious that the center and Evelyn and Denis in particular are the pillars of the community. It is where people come to get clean drinking water and to simply gather. Evelyn, Denis and the women distributed food and supplies to so many families during Covid as they all struggled to obtain basic necessities. We saw photo after photo of grateful faces who otherwise would not have been able to provide for their families. Additionally, the Ride 4 A Woman organization provides microloans to empower women and sustain their families. 100+ women are currently participating in the Ride 4 A Woman Microfinance Program.

One of the Mothers at Ride 4 A Woman

Sadly, Liliana passed away in 2010 but her legacy lives on through Evelyn and Ride 4 A Woman. We are honored that Evelyn, Denis and the women there are working with Intertwined by making beautiful cloth napkins, yoga bags, aprons, cloth napkin rings, woven napkin rings and beautiful woven baskets. As I said, it was the spark that started it all and for that we are very grateful.

I tell this story as often as I can. I tell it to make a point that one person CAN make a difference. In this case two people, Liliana who had the dream and Evelyn who turned that dream into reality. Both of these women were/are incredible women and mothers as Evelyn is now raising her own daughter. This is but one example of why we are so passionate about our mission. We are two women and mothers who also hope to make a difference in as many lives as possible. Your support allows us to support the women Ride 4 A Woman uplift every single day. On this upcoming Mother’s Day and every day we offer our sincere admiration for women like Liliana and Evelyn who choose to not only care for their children but to also offer a life line to other mothers so they can also care for their precious families.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you amazing mothers! You continue to make the world a much better place!

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