DUBAI // Orphans in Uganda have been given the chance of a brighter future thanks to a UAE-inspired pioneering project that also aims to empower female entrepreneurs.
Abu-Dhabi based philanthropic organisation Monyati Initiatives has funded a Dh91,825 project to renovate and upgrade a pizza restaurant in Entebbe that, it hoped, would become a sustainable business.
Working with Malayaka House Orphanage, Monyati Initiatives believes the restaurant will provide an environment for the girls to learn.
“This has been a dream come true, and our girls could not be happier,” said Monja Wolf, Abu Dhabi resident and founder of Monyati Initiatives. “Everything has become easier for them.”
Although the restaurant was already being used by the orphanage as a means of raising money, the changes meant they could expand their activities.
“The primary goal of this project was to take the pizza business and do what the orphanage has already been doing for a number of years – but do it better, cheaper and faster,” she said.
“We wish to take this business and training programme to another level of income generation, professionalism and opportunities for the children and community.”
The restaurant and training centre are run by women, and the orphanage fosters 42 children from 6 months to 23 years.
Uganda is blighted by high unemployment – only 5 per cent of the population is in full-time work and 83 per cent of youths are without a job. “The restaurant creates sustainability as well as employment for the older girls, who are ready to move out from the orphanage, and enable them to generate income,” said Ms Wolf.
“We envision it will be self-sustaining within one year and to also contribute to the sustainability of the orphanage as well as serve as a training centre for youth.”
Thanks to support from flydubai, Dh31,000 paid for the renovation of a newly rented building, Dh8,300 was used to build a baking oven, Dh3,200 for a fridge, Dh2,200 for a freezer and Dh2,500 for furniture.
An enlarged outside dining area was created and available for private hire, raising more money for the orphanage.
Expansion plans included converting the garage into a food shop , an organic garden expected to be completed in 2017 as well as completion of the kitchen with concrete counters, shelves and cabinets.
Monyati Initiatives runs projects from Madagascar and UAE to India.
Guido Juchert, 28, from Germany, volunteered for the project in Uganda after meeting Ms Wolf on a trip to India in 2014. He worked as a project manager in February last year, which involved market research of restaurants and markets in Uganda.
“I saw how the Malayaka House girls produced mozzarella, saw two of their already established pizza nights which was the starting point for this whole social restaurant venture,” he said.
“This project empowers the older girls or women at Malayaka House to continue with their amazing journey of gaining independence. For me, the biggest memory is how well the whole house functions together,” he said.
“When you hear about the horrible stories, which most children have experienced, it surprised me to see such positivity around the House. It totally feels that this world never happened and the children have been fully rehabilitated.”
Volunteers can contact the organisation at www.monyati.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.