Just like its name, MEND INITIATIVE is out to mend both livelihoods and societal perspectives about LBTQ women. The organization whose thematic areas of work are digital entrepreneurship, economic empowerment, labour and economic advocacy, vocational training and social wellness also offers scholarships to its beneficiaries.
We spoke to Sarah Ndugga, the Executive Director of MEND INITIATIVE and she expounded more on the organization;s work and objectives.,
KT: Tell us about MEND INIATIVE, what you do and who your target group is
SN: Mend Initiative is an organization that advocates for equal social and economic rights for LBTQ persons in Uganda through the provision of safe enterprising spaces and empowering the community to successfully sustain themselves economically in a hostile environment. The organisation was formed in 2020 following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic which exposed more income inequalities within the LBTQ community in Uganda.
KT: What has the organization achieved since its inception
SN: We're currently running a skills training program for LBTQ persons and we're also doing online awareness about digital entrepreneurship
KT: Was your organisation and membership impacted by the COVID19 pandemic especially the lockdown?
SN: Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 Pandemic which exposed more income inequalities within the LBTQ community in Uganda, many LBTQ women lost their jobs and lacked income generating activities.
LBTQ persons continue to experience both labour and economic discrimination in Uganda which has greatly affected their livelihoods, access to social amenities. This has led to the escalation of extreme poverty and unemployment within the community. The first blow of the pandemic came with a lockdown which affected movement and changed the way of life. Everything came on a standstill which affected the economy and most minority women.
COVID -19 also led to an increase in gender based violence and Intimate Partner Violence because of there's no financial Independence of individuals involved. Quarantine and restrictions of movement also diminished social wellness spaces for LBTQ women to share their life experiences and challenges. Therefore, LBTQ persons remain at the bottom of the economic chain in Uganda.
KT: How have your members navigated these impacts and how did they sustain their income generating activities?
SN: Mend Initiative is seeking to address this economic gap caused by COVID-19 through digital Entrepreneurship Skilling and Economic Empowerment.
KT: What challenges have you faced as an organisation?
SN: Inadequate funding
KT: How are these being addressed?
SN: By doing more fundraising
KT: Tell us about the scholarships you offer and how one becomes a beneficiary?
SN: We are conducting a free skills training program in art and design, graphics designing, human centered designing, filming, videography and photography, entrepreneurship for LGBTQ persons. The courses run for 4 months and will be awarded certificates.
Registration is 20,000. Other requirements are passport photo, LC letter, copy of national Id. Registration for the May intake is ongoing. For registration contact firstname.lastname@example.org or +256708630994