39 years old
Hoima District, Uganda
Hoima Blind Women Association, Chairperson
“My life has been transformed as a result of founding the Hoima Blind Women Association,” says Joy.
After losing her eyesight in 2005, Joy says, “I would spend most of the day in bed, crying and blaming God for vision loss, unaware that this was opening another responsibility of championing the blind women cause in the region. With help from a Community Leader, Joy was eventually inspired to use her life-changing situation to mobilize other blind women in the area. Hoima Blind Women Association has implemented projects like poultry production, hygiene and sanitation, vegetable growing, and blind women’s rights. Joy says, I so much believe that working as a Chairperson of Hoima Blind Women Association is a noble calling to lobby for the plight of visually impaired women in Hoima District.”
Joy works with local women and girls due to traditional male domination and suppression of the women and girls. Women and girls remain at the margin of the development process so their concerns receive minimal attention, their needs are not incorporated into planning, and their voices are lacking from lobbying and advocacy efforts. She explains, “The Hoima Blind Women Association therefore was started to close this existing gap to enable women and girls have a platform to say their concerns without fear or favor.
Of the VGIF grant, Joy says, “the project has brought about solidarity and cohesion amongst the visually impaired women and girls.” Project planning is collaborative so the “women and girls now work as a team.” Working with the local leaders has been a good thing because the leaders are now willing to support the project in terms of monitoring and lobbying for more support. Joy credits the project with making her a better leader and has made her feel informed enough to articulate issues. Joy says, “The participants are interested in the project and committed to ensure that the set project milestones are achieved. The project will also for many more years after [VGIF funding ends] owing to the active participation of the members.”