Mary's Story

Mary Nanyonga

Mary Nanyonga’s life story is our most distinguished by the very fact that she is our oldest artisan at 74 years of age. Mary married Dick Musoke in 1968 and gave birth to three children. Disappointingly she and her husband were unable to afford school fees and had to withdraw their children from their much desired education. Mary gladly allowed her daughter to live with her aunt so that her daughter could continue in school.

Dick unexpectedly and mysteriously died in the year 2000. Mary drew on her resourcefulness to earn an income. She gardened and learned to create baskets, trivets and mats. Because of the poor economy in Uganda, there was very little market for her products--”they stayed in the house watching me as I watched them.” Her son was able to help sustain her although Mary accepted his help with shame.
The Namugongo Good Samaritan Project (NGSP) offered her the chance she was looking for--she knew her life was about to change. The founder Lillian Aero Olok saw leadership skills and confidence in Mary and gave her the job of training the other widows in craft-making. Lillian has seen a tremendous transformation in Mary’s self-esteem over the past year. Through the respect she earns from the ladies and her new-found self-reliance, Mary is blossoming in her 70s!
Today Mary makes a variety of crafts. With the entrepreneurship and reinvesting skills she learned through the NGSP, she is joyfully anticipating opening a shop near her home.
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