As its first project, krma-US Partners chose the Kobulubulu Ribere Mon Association (KRMA) because of it’s compelling history.
The women of KRMA live in Kobulubulu, Uganda, in a collection of family compounds without electricity or running water, but with a shared history of loss and recovery.
KRMA’s story began during a surge in Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) incursions into the northeastern regions of Uganda in 2005. For nearly 20 years, the LRA had been kidnapping Ugandan adults and children, forcing the boys to serve as soldiers and the girls as sex slaves.
In 2005, when the LRA attacked Kobulubulu, the villagers fled to an internally displaced persons camp for protection. The camp quickly became over-crowded and aid was limited by LRA attacks on relief vehicles. With little food and insufficient clean water, conditions in the camp deteriorated, leading to poverty, hunger, sexual violence and lawlessness.
As suffering grew, a group of eight women from Kobulubulu began meeting every evening to pray for the safety of their husbands and help each other through the terrible struggles they were experiencing. The women also helped each other find work, pooling their wages and putting whatever coins were left over into communal savings and gave each other comfort and faith that life would improve.
When the Ugandan army finally chased the LRA out of Uganda and it was safe to return to their village, the women found that their houses had been burned and all their property had been lost or looted.
Still facing loss, poverty and difficulty, the women agreed to continue to collaborate by rebuilding their houses together, helping each other find work, saving money together and sharing concerns and comfort. They met weekly and soon created a formal village savings group, KRMA, with the following objectives:
- To improve household income
- To ensure food security and livelihood
- To ensure faster conflict resolution and reconciliation within the community through peaceful means.
Many women say that the group changed their lives by teaching them to be responsible and to manage money, to be independent and to work cooperatively, to be disciplined and caring, and to believe that prayers and hard work pay.