South Sudanese women in Uganda find way to help themselves

Some of the members of the South Sudanese Women's Association in Uganda. At least 2000 South Sudanese women arrive in Uganda every month fleeing from their war-torn country.
Some of the members of the South Sudanese Women’s Association in Uganda. At least 2000 South Sudanese women arrive in Uganda every month fleeing from their war-torn country.

South Sudanese women in Uganda say they have found a way to support each other amid tough financial times. The idea can be traced to the South Sudanese concept of “Sanduku,” or box. It’s an arrangement under which each member of a group of women contributes a small amount of money monthly, collected by the group’s treasurer. All the cash is given to one member of the group each month. The same exercise is repeated the following month for a different group member. It continues until the last person is reached, and then it starts all over again.

The South Sudanese women living in Uganda have modified this merry-go-round way of helping each other by expanding it to household items like soap and sugar. The women say the practice is making it possible for many with meager resources to buy household items they would have never been able to obtain otherwise. Aneta Andrua is a founding member of one such group with about 20 members in Kampala. She said the Sanduku idea was adopted as a result of all the hardships South Sudanese women living there were facing.

“When we came here, life was hard and this inspired us to come up with this initiative. We had no means of survival. We were suffering and struggling to survive,” said Andrua. Women in the group meet once a week, each time at the home of the beneficiary that keeps the collection of items. Anet Asienjo, another member of Andrua’s group, said they give each other all kinds of practical household items. “We came up with the suggestion of helping each other by collecting at least one bar [of soap], a kilo of sugar, omo [powdered soap], because you alone can’t afford those things,” Asienjo said.

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