I recently stayed at the Boomu Women's Group, in Kigaragara, Uganda to learn more about this community based tourism group and the lives of rural Ugandans. The group was formed in 1999, by Enda Byabali with the aim of fighting poverty in the area by creating economic and social development through raising the incomes of their members.
I'll be putting together a promotional video for Boomu and UCOTA (the Ugandan Community Tourism Association) to use upon my return to the US.
If you're in Uganda, I encourage you to stay at Boomu. The accommodations are some of the most comfortable I've had on my trip so far, the trees are FILLED (!) with weaver birds and their nests, the food is as fresh as the backyard and Edna will gladly teach you all about the surrounding community. Stay for a few days and learn about the local community or stay for a few weeks and volunteer your time.
If you're not planning a trip to Uganda, plan a trip to the website and shop for some crafts. You will be making a direct contribution to support this community that is working to support itself! And for goodness sakes, let them know that you learned about Boomu from Kristian at HeyMissK!
Lastly, please leave any comments about this program here so the people from UCOTA and Boomu can see them too!
Information About the Boomu Women's Group (from their website)
All our members are subsistence farmers meaning that most food that is grown is for domestic consumption and what is left is taken to the market. However in order to raise incomes, some families increase the amount they take to the market leaving themselves hungry. Income from farming, due to the low amount produced and lack of access to markets, rarely cover all the expenses people have: education costs such as secondary school fees, textbooks, and uniforms, soap, paraffin, clothes once a year and occasionally meat. For our members’ there are few alternate livelihoods in particular for women so the group was formed to provide another income stream through weaving baskets.
As the number of baskets sold is very variable, we decided to diversify our activities by setting up a small tourism project. The group brought land in the village of Kigaragara, next to Murchison Falls National Park, using 15% of the income from baskets towards this project. We built accommodation in 2004 with assistance from UCOTA (Ugandan Community Tourism Association). and received further seed funding in 2006 to furnish the bandas.
The objective for this tourism project is for it to be a participatory experience: for our group, the local community and for the visitor. The surrounding community has been involved in the development of the project and would be happy to have people visiting them, seeing their everyday life and their needs such as education that our project is trying to address. Our chairperson will be delighted to share with you everything she knows about local life, history, culture, traditions and the issues that affect us. This means visitors will directly engage with the recipients of their tourism spend and can see exactly what the impact of their stay will be.
As well as bringing economic and social development directly to our members and the local communities - plans include a nursery school for the community - we also wish to create economic development indirectly. We hope that if the project becomes successful we can inspire other people to come together and also work towards economic and social development.