A celebration of the Adyero Women’s Day took place on Saturday 18 December 2021. The event was hosted at the home of Adyero Anena Stella Obonyo in Wangwiny North, Kalongo Town Council as part of a reciprocal visit from her ‘Special Adyero’ Oliya Lucya from Lira City.
The Adeyro Women’s Group is made up of women mostly from Kalongo Town with other members who hail from Kalongo but reside in Gulu, Lira, Kampala and other areas outside Agago District.
Adyero means friendship so members forge friendships within pairs of what are called ‘Special Adyeros’ or ‘Special Friends’. Within these pairs, women offer support to each other in times of joy or sickness. They stand with one another and with the entire Adyero fraternity to show solidarity and support each other to celebrate or overcome any challenges.
How the event unfolded
Prior to the arrival of the Lira Women’s group, the Agago District Woman Member of Parliament Hon. Akello Baetrice Akori was very warmly welcomed.
The Adyero Women Group Kalongo Town Council Headed by Adyero Anena Stella Obonyo welcomed the Adyero Women’s Group from Lira City who were led by Adyero Lucy Oliya.
As is the rule, members of the welcoming team of Adyero women spread a carpet on the ground and the visiting Adyero members kneel down on their knees and crawl to greet their colleagues.
The Chief Guest of honour, Hon Okot John Amos MP Agago North Constituency whose wife is one of the members of Adyero Women’s Group Kalongo Town Council, delivered a speech. He thanked the husbands of the Adyero Women’s Group (who are referred to as “This One There”) for accepting and supporting their wives’ participation in such a noble Group. He encouraged all husbands to support their spouses in joining groups like Adyero which empower women.
Mrs Abalo Lillian Ongom, the Patron and promoter of Adyero Women’s Group addressed the invited guests and all the Adyero members from the various groups.
She reiterated her commitment to seeing more women united and thanked the Adyero Women’s Group Kalongo Town Council for organizing such a wonderful ceremony. She said this kind of formation hinged on friendship, love and integrity. She said people should not be focused on material things but rather on the act of love and friendship.
She said Adyero promotes good behaviour, respect and friendship. Members should act maturely and be exemplary in their day-to-day activities and also be supportive of one another as that is the essence of the Adyero dictum.
Mrs Abalo Lillian Ongom thanked the host, Stella Anena Obonyo, and the Visiting Guest and Special Friend, Lucy Oliya, for sharing their friendship with the community of Kalongo Town Council in such a joyous event – the first of its kind in Kalongo Town Council.
Hon Okot John Amos donated one million Uganda Shillings (1,000,000/=) to the Adyero group to support their development Agenda.
The Kalongo Times gave the Adyero group the December 2021 Professor Dr JJ Otim Development Award also of one million Uganda Shillings (1,000,000/=) and provided some funds to support the organisation of this event.
Interview with Ms Florence Aryemo Chairperson Adyero Women’s Group Kalongo Town Council – Agago District
Mr. Obonyo Alex from The Kalongo Times interviewed Ms Florence Aryemo Chairperson of Adyero Women’s Group Kalongo Town Council about the group and its impact on members.
Ms Florence Aryemo said she was greatly honoured by The Kalongo Times for selecting their group and for the great opportunity it provided them to share with the world who they were and what they did.
She explained that the Adyero Women’s Group was predominantly a women’s group with their spouses involved as extraordinary members often referred to as “This One There”. All members united in solidarity with one another. Each member paired up in a special relationship with another member of the Adyero fraternity to form friendships known as ‘Special Adyeros’. They helped each other and the entire Adyero fraternity celebrate or overcome any challenges.
When was the group established?
This idea started in march 2014 but came to formal actualization a year later in 27th April 2015 when it was registered as a functional group with the Town Council of Kalongo. Five years later on the 5th February 2020, it was formally registered as a Community Based Organization (CBO) operating in Agago District.
What is the membership of this group?
The current members are fifty-one (51) in number all women, the spouses are treated as quasi members by virtue of their relationship but with no voting rights. They are drawn mostly from Kalongo Town with other members who hail from Kalongo but reside in Gulu, Lira, Kampala and other areas outside Agago District
What inspired the formation of this group?
The group was established thanks to Mrs Abalo Lillian Ongom – the patron who met a few women and shared with them her desire for a united front for women to champion women emancipation from poverty through solidary and self-development initiatives by group members as she saw it work well in lira City, then Lira Municipality. The message then spread and membership increased to the present level.
The Adyero ideology which took root in Lango sub-region – specifically Lira City much earlier was then introduced to the women of Agago District who took it up and it is now spreading
What does your group stand for and what kind of activities are you engaged in?
The word Adyero is a Luo term that means friendship, this is the core value for membership of this group.
With the entrenchment of this core value; the hope is to promote savings in order to increase per capita income level for each group member and by extension that of the members family.
By promoting team spirit, the group engages in building members capacity on entrepreneurship skills to engage in business, productive agriculture and other income-generating activities. The group observes respect for human rights; is mindful of environmental conservation; strives to promote healthy living and total wellbeing of members and their immediate families.
Your group started in 2014, how has the group progressed so far?
Progress has been good but could have been much better if it was not because of Covid -19 that greatly affected most of our activities in the last two years. That notwithstanding, membership has increased from 15 members at the onset to 51 members as of today. We are quite optimistic that with the easing of the lockdown and the event of the 18th/12/2021, we shall attract many more to the fore. We have diversified our friendship with Adyero groups in Lira, Kitgum and Gulu and members have special friends coming from different areas.
Besides the Group growth, how has it impacted your life and the lives of others in the community?
As an individual, being in this group has helped me to become a more caring person able to tolerate different viewpoints and in the end, come out with a common understanding that propels the group to move forward.
My colleagues and I have benefitted through the revolving fund that is at members disposal to access in case of need, and payback with minimal interest at a reasonable timeframe. This scheme has been very helpful in times of school fees, sickness and other personal development needs.
This has also helped to diversify my friendship and way of approaching common issues that affect women in society. I think this resonates with my fellow members and I consider this the adhesive glue that has enabled us to stick together.
Many groups collapse after a very short lifespan so how have you managed to stay afloat?
Adyero women’s group has been able to survive thanks to the cooperation of women and the support of their spouses. Every Sunday we meet as a group and brainstorm on issues affecting members and seek solutions to address them. The revolving fund mechanism works through pooling resources together and providing access to borrowing at limited interest. This interest is eventually paid back to you at the end of the year when both capital and interest accrued are returned to the member.
Regular education of members in various fields is a factor attributing towards cohesion and better appreciation of the groups’ aspirations.
This group is an all-embracing; with members drawn from a cross-section of professional and non-professional women (Housewives, peasants, businesswomen, teachers, health workers, women in leadership positions, some in formal employment…) in the community; the diversity of the members in terms of education and profession provides a unique opportunity for learning to co-exist and operate in such an environment
As is common with most businesses there are the up and downside, Are there any challenges you have experienced in the course of carrying out planned activities of the group?
It’s true there are challenges sometimes too big for us to handle. One of our preoccupations is farming as a business; we plant cotton as a major cash crop, unfortunately, we are not in charge of the weather and in a number of years, this has let us down resulting in losses that hinder positive development growth.
Sometimes our problems are insurmountable as a result of insufficient funds from which members can borrow. This becomes extremely tricky during time for taking children back to school and when a member or the relative is sick and referred to seek medical care in the national or regional referral hospitals and other specialized private hospitals dotted across the country.
Soliciting for funds to start-up businesses that can bring some income in the pocket of the group is still hard to come by. We are, however, optimistic that with the COVID-19 pandemic situation easing, things will improve for the better.
What strategies have you adopted to improve your group performance? And how do you relate it to the economic development of Kalongo Town?
Members of our group are part of the community and being mothers, we are the backbone of the family. Any stride we make towards improving our income, translates into improving the household social-economic fabric and this has a ripple effect in the economy of Kalongo Town as a whole because this is where most of the members stay and therefore would spend most of their incomes.
How have you dealt with fellow women and men who are critical of Adyero group?
Adyero members of Kalongo Town council are free to have special friends from within the group or from other similar groups of the Adyero fraternity in the country. As a way of enhancing the friendship and creating cohesion in the group, every member should visit her friend with the support of colleagues in her group and together they organize assorted gifts and then they put together is gifted to the friend, a reciprocal action is also taken by the friend and her fellow Adyero mates. This is a unifying factor that is supposed to rotate all round until every member is visited and gifted. This gives hope to stay. When people see this happen with the pomp and enthusiasm of members will surely win hearts and minds of many who would think otherwise.
The level of friendship and solidarity shown amongst members is the greatest indicator for attraction and value that the group hinges itself on.
How widespread are your members?
Most of our members come from within Kalongo Town council with a few coming from Paimol and Parabongo sub-counties and one based in Arua City and another in Gulu City.
We are affiliated to other Adyero Groups in Lira and Gulu Cities as well as Kitgum municipality which is still in its formative stage.
Where do you see yourself in the next short to mid-term?
We see Adyero Women’s group members expanding in number as we also continue to promote other Adyero groups which have started within Kalongo Town Council and sub-counties in Agago District. We look forward to creating friendships with other women individuals or groups across the country as well as outside the country as a way of creating synergies that can help empower the women and improve their livelihood.
We envisage a formidable women’s organization with the capacity to engage in productive agriculture as a business in the mid to long term as well as engage in other income-generating activities like procuring tents and chairs for hire in the short term. We are also looking into opening a catering service once we acquire all the necessary utensils and associated equipment.
Tell us about any success story in which you proudly identify yourself as resulting from the operation of your group – Adyero Women’s Group Kalongo Town Council?
We have managed to continue our operations in spite of COVID-19 pandemic that has slowed down our activities. We have supported the formation of other Adyero groups like the one in Wol Town Council, Pakor Parish and others in Kalongo Town. On the 18th /12/2021, for the first time in Kalongo Town Council, we have organized a function where Adyero Lilly Oliya of Adyero Women’s Group of Lira City will be visiting Adyero Stella Anena Obonyo Adyero Women’s Group Kalongo Town Council.
Another such ceremony will take place in Kokil Sub- County in Paimol where another Adyero Special friend from Gulu City will come to visit her Adyero Special friend of Adyero Women’s Group Kalongo Town Council in mid-January 2022
What is the one thing you want to tell the world about this women formation?
Adyero women’s group is a serious organisation with a key agenda of empowering women and uplifting them from abject poverty through group cohesion and solidarity in times of joy and in times of hardship.
By supporting the women, we are indirectly supporting households and therefore improving living conditions of households and subsequently leading to socio-economic development of Kalongo Town Council.
Mr Obonyo Alex closed the interview by saying:
“It has been a pleasure talking to you Ms Florence Aryemo about this formidable group of women. You have shown that by uniting, you can be able to achieve what is near impossible by a single individual. The Kalongo Times appreciates your initiative and wishes you a happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year 2022.
May God bless Adyero Women’s Group and may you realize your dream and grow to your full potential. Well done and continue keep the candle burning.”
The Kalongo Times is a news publication which celebrates progress and development in Kalongo town and the wider Deaconry (formally Kalongo Mission). The Deaconry encompasses present-day Agago, part of Pader, part of Kitgum and part of Abim.