The Roots of Hope Foundation was started in 2007 to support and expand the work already being done by the Bwimaniro Women’s Club. This community group of Kyarumba women has been advocating for education and economic empowerment for women in their region since 1989, but their success was limited by isolation from outside information and funding. Following a community consultation in 2007 underscoring the importance of education and economic empowerment for the women of the region, Roots of Hope was formed by a former Kyarumba resident and an American volunteer to give the women of Kyarumba a stronger voice.
Jessica Batsemaghe, Founder
Jessica grew up in Kyarumba, the area where Roots of Hope now operates. She was fortunate to be raised by one of few families in the area that recognized the importance of educating girls. She is one of only 11 female university graduates the sub-county had produced as of 2007 when the foundation was started. She now has 20 years of experience working with international development organizations on poverty eradication programs throughout Uganda. She is grateful to her parents and sponsors (Schweizerischer Katholischer Frauenbund SKF in Switzerland) for the empowering education they gave her, and she is passionate about using that education and her professional experience to give back to the community that raised and educated her.
Before starting Roots of Hope, Jessica volunteered with the Bwimaniro Women’s Club as a program adviser. Believing in the value of partnerships, she linked the club to online and offline volunteering organizations to help them access skills and resources. Seeing the potential for growth from these links, she and Megan Haas founded Roots of Hope to further support the women of Kyarumba with more resources and information.
Jessica believes that women’s empowerment in the Rwenzori Mountains is long overdue and it is time for action. She believes poor women can lift themselves out of poverty on their own if their innate abilities are discovered and encouraged. “I am proud to be a co-founder of the Roots of Hope Foundation, a dream I have lived for. I followed my heart. You too can make it happen.” says Jessica.
In her own words:
“I am lucky to have been born to parents who knew how important it was to educate girls. Otherwise I wouldn’t be who I am today. I derive my energy from the love I have for the girls of Kyarumba. They have cried for education, but few people have come to their rescue. My drive and aspiration comes from my former teacher and role model, Mrs. Naume Nzyabake. She has dedicated her life to promoting education in Kyarumba. She ignored living a posh and luxurious life in cities for the sake of the girls of Kyarumba. When you have something itching you in your heart that requires you to take action, do it. So my motto is… follow your heart, you will be happy you made the right decision!”
– Jessica Batsemaghe, Co-founder of Roots of Hope Foundation
Megan Haas, Co-founder
Megan Haas originally came to Uganda from the United States as a volunteer. She quickly forged a strong connection to the people and the country, and stayed for a year working on development projects before returning home.
Megan’s background is rooted in business, but her passion for development work delayed her corporate career. During the months she spent in Kyarumba, she was impressed by the strength of character shining through the women there. She became convinced that a skilled and committed development arm would amplify their efforts as they work toward personal and economic empowerment. She joined Jessica in establishing the Roots of Hope Foundation in 2007 to make this dream a reality.
The foundation accomplishes its work through a network of current and former Kyarumba resident volunteers, the Bwimaniro Women’s Club community group, and a handful of international volunteers.
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