After many years of living in Nairobi as a refugee while working at Amani ya Juu, Simprosa Okot left Kenya with her husband and children to return to their home country of Uganda. They returned to work for a local NGO dedicated to supporting marginalized women with HIV/AIDS who had previously been abducted by the rebel militias that had wreaked havoc in Simprosa’s hometown of Gulu. Working with these women gave Simprosa an opportunity to exercise the skills she had acquired during her years at Amani Kenya.
Seeing a Need
As she worked with this community-based project, it became apparent that the program was not large enough to accommodate all the women in the community who were vulnerable. Seeing women in desperate situations prompted Simprosa to recall the state her own life was in before she joined Amani. “As I prayed about it, I really felt for those ladies who had no place to turn,” she reflects.
Casting a Vision
Simprosa went to the place where she knew support would be provided - she traveled to Amani Kenya to share with the Amani leaders what she was witnessing in Nothern Uganda. She told them of her dream to establish an Amani center in Uganda in order to bring holistic healing to the lives of women in Gulu who had been formally abducted and enslaved by the rebel group, the LRA, in the region. As Amani had done in the past, she provided the initial capital and training Simprosa would need to get started.
Planting the Seeds of a New Amani Community
With seed money for raw materials, two sewing machines, and a cutting table, Amani Uganda was born in June of 2011. Simprosa started with two ladies working in a small, one room, space. They worked hard learning and stitching new designs and products. Their quality work of international standards enabled them to grow and expand quickly. As of July 2015 there are 27 women working full time in a 5 room house.Similar to the other Amani locations, Amani Uganda sets aside time to read the Bible and share a time of prayer and devotions. They also uniquely meet the needs of the women they are working with through discipleship and trauma rehabilitation. Simprosa hopes to one day introduce literacy and business classes.
Amani Uganda offers a line of beautiful products using colors and fabrics unique to their region. The ladies specialize in totes and bags, and, offer kitchen items and children’s soft toys as well. The ladies are excited about what they are doing and proud of what they are making. The work of Amani has given them purpose in life once again.The vision is clear. Amani Uganda exists to be a community where women learn skills and earn a reliable income, but most importantly they experience transformation and healing by the peace that comes from above, “Kuc ma Malo.”