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Two Medical Students Start Bike Sharing Program for LifeStitch Workers in Uganda

Maracha is the town in Uganda where the second LifeStitches Project opened in November 2012. It is very rural and consists of a small community gathered around St. Josephs Hospital, government buildings and a market place. Most of the Workshop mothers live in villages around Maracha. The more rural the setting the more stigma these women encounter by others in the communities. Many of our mothers have not disclosed their health status.

Mothers make a heroic effort to come and participate in the workshop. Some live as close as half a mile (1 kilometer) to nearly six miles (8 kilometers) distance from the LifeStitches Workshop which is situated on the St. Josephs Hospital grounds. Mothers living very far away report getting up and starting out before light (6:30 am) to reach the Workshop. They often come everyday of the week to learn skills and make products.

The rent to own bike program was conceived by Brenna McGuire and Teresa Leslie, second year medical students from the University of New Mexico, who did evaluations while visiting Maracha Spring 2014. While interviewing the mothers they learned how far some of them had to travel. It is not safe for anyone to be on the roads traveling before light and after dark.

The bike program is open to all mothers who have been in the workshop for 6 months and can put down a small amount of money. They are then given a new bike and lessons on how to ride if necessary. The project furnishes a bike & lock for each mother. All participants pay back the cost of the bike each month with a withholding from their workshop earnings over a period of 18 months. The cost of these bikes are around $75. We give a discount for each km that the mothers live from the workshop. So a mother living 8km away pays $45 for her bike, etc. The programs favor the ones who live the furthest.

If mothers are sick, out for pregnancy or other reasons and cannot work in workshop, they have a one month period of grace. If they need longer for some reason, they can return their bike, we will hold it for them and give credit for payment already made until they can resume the program.

The students from the University of New Mexico plan to return to Maracha next year to begin a bike shop repair program to teach mothers how to repair their own bikes and for LifeStitches to begin another business opportunity for our mothers.

Frontier Soups showcases beautiful Batik Napkins made by HIV positive women to support their families with their handiwork. All proceeds from the sale of the napkins goes directly to the Lifestitches Program. Your purchase is most appreciated. Frontier Soups is proud to send LOVE and a little funding to this fine organization.

Frontier Soups showcases beautiful Batik Napkins made by HIV positive women to support their families with their handiwork. All proceeds from the sale of the napkins goes directly to the Lifestitches Project. Your purchase is most appreciated. Frontier Soups is proud to send LOVE and a little funding to this fine organization.

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