A Limitless Impact Story from Uganda
Have you ever turned your small idea into a local innovation? Here’s my innovation journey with the IFRC Limitless program to promote employment opportunities and environmental protection in my community during the pandemic.
Hi, My name is Fred Marule, I’m a volunteer from the Uganda Red Cross Society, and I joined the IFRC Youth Innovation Academy Limitless program.
Initially, my idea was to look into how the social-economic welfare of socially vulnerable groups (such as young and single mothers, people with disabilities, and orphans) could be enhanced through local innovations. Due to COVID-19, prolonged lockdowns, market restrictions, livelihoods, and small-scale enterprises have been disrupted.
In addition to joining the workshops of the innovation academy, I received 500 CHF to test and prototype my idea with the community. Together with my volunteer colleagues, we engaged the local council and religious leaders as our entry points into the community, and presented our idea: “Promoting employment opportunities through localized low-cost high impact innovations that foster environmental conservation.”
The community welcomed the idea, and we began prototyping. 75 socially vulnerable people, including single and young mothers, people with disabilities, and orphans, were trained in handicraft skills such as craft shoe making and basket weaving.
As for raw materials, we used some of the non-disposable manufactured products, like the used up and thrown away car and motorcycle tires for crafting shoes, used and thrown polythene bags and papers for basket weaving and mat making, and so on.
Therefore, my project has three important aspects;
- Employment opportunities for socially vulnerable people,
- Environmental protection through recycling and reuse, and
- Socioeconomic transformation
The initiative was a tremendous success, and the skills taught were taken seriously. And currently, these learned skills are being passed on to new members of the community.
Members have started generating some income from utilizing the local market where they sell their finished products. They decided to form a group where they could come and practice these skills, as well as teach the new members at least twice a week at specific hours. From here, a savings and internal lending scheme were started in addition to the handicraft work.
They are now looking forward to integrating more skills like soap or reusable sanitary pads making, and tailoring, among other income-generating activities. And so, as idea initiators, we hope that we are able to source funds and support these members and other people in the communities.
I appreciate the fact that young people in the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement are given a platform to build and implement ideas that positively impact their own communities. Thank you IFRC and the Solferino Academy, indeed together we are limitless!
Photo Credit: Corrie Butler