My name is Nancy Lakot. I am a social entrepreneur and a student at Makerere University Business School undertaking a degree course in International Business. At university I am the course leader in our class.
My dream to attain a University education was to be a role model and change maker. As a young girl I joined the Butterfly Project which is a charity whose purpose is to encourage social entrepreneurship in young people. I wanted to show to my female village friends that it is possible to achieve greater things as a young woman. I wanted to act as example for the girls, especially those whose parents do not believe that girls can achieve their aspirations in life. My formal education started with my Primary One level schooling in a small village called Lalak in the Lokung sub county in Lamwo district in Uganda.
As a young girl, it was impossible to realise my dreams as we lived in a refugee camp due to LRA (Lords Resistance Army) war in northern Uganda. As a result of the LRA war we were forced to move from our homeland, fearing for our lives and fled to the camp. Incidents I witnessed in the camp made me not only think about myself but motivated me to become a more powerful woman so that I can fight for the rights of women and encourage young girls to be who did want to be not what their parents wanted them to be. In the refugee camp girls were sexually abused, forced to marry rich men, and many lost their lives. I knew through Butterfly Project’s training and education I could become a great force in bringing about change, empowering women to change their mindset and beliefs in thinking that girls are the weaker sex, are not bright in school, and that the only choices open to them are as housewives.
My ambition and passion is to transform my community into a better place for its people. This started long ago when I joined the Butterfly Project and I now have a project called Girl Empowerment. My aim is to help educate young girls and help them to realise their dreams too, and how they can achieve this in a number of different ways. I have been fortunate to have been supported on my journey, and I would like girls in my community to have the same opportunities. This will help us to transform our village communities for a better society where women and girls have greater equality.
The Butterfly Project taught us so many things about resilience and how not giving up is very important, even in the most difficult circumstances. This inspired me to follow my own passion of helping other girls in my community who have been affected by war and as a result have been denied the opportunity to go to school.
Through the Butterfly Project I was able to learn the skills necessary to be a change maker and to think outside the box. As well as learning valuable business skills, we also took part in so many activities such as board games, dance, poetry, singing, sports. Through these activities and the teaching I received, I was able to use and apply my knowledge, skills and experience in my own community.
I started the Girls Empowerment Project when I was 14 years old not long after I joined Butterfly Project. Through the training I was inspired to set up my own project for my village to support girls who are not given the same opportunity as boys. Girls are generally not considered as being able to provide sources of income and they are forced into early marriage so that their families can receive money or cattle. I have worked hard for the past few years.
When I started the Girls Empowerment Project I wanted it to become an example, using my experiences from primary school through to my time with the Butterfly Project. I now talk to parents and use my own example and that of other women who have been trained by the Butterfly Project to demonstrate what can be achieved and that women can become powerful women too. Another great example I like to use is Michelle Obama who inspired so many people around the world.
The Girls Empowerment Project also uses a wide variety of activities like dance and performance, encouraging girls to stand up for themselves and also encouraging parents to take their daughters’ education seriously. So many girls were not going to school because of different problems. One of these was a lack of sanitary protection. The solution was to make sanitary pads. I attended a project called Girls Tech Uganda where I was learned how to make handmade pads and we are now passing these skills on to girls in our own community.
In 2020, during the pandemic lockdown, I had the opportunity to start a farming project. With the help of family members and friends, I managed to raise the initial money to start. Once we started to make small revenues from the produce, we were able to provide support for three girls who had been members of the Girls Empowerment Project to purchase school materials. These girls lost their parents in the war that happened in the northern part of Uganda and therefore had no family support. I was able to pay for the half school fees which made me happy since this one act of kindness can make a massive difference. This year over ten girls offered to help in farming in the little piece of land that I have. They are planting maize and beans and this will help them to buy school materials.
My future plans are to build an orphanage or school where girls will be given the opportunity to study for free and to see more girls going to school and going on to attend university or start their own businesses or projects.
Open air class
Nancy Lakot, Social Entrepreneur