Our Cotton On Foundation employees operate from two main locations, with 12 people working from our Head Office in North Geelong, Australia and over 30 staff members working from the field in Southern Uganda.
Our Communications Coordinator, Rachel is based in our Geelong office and has the important job of working with the Cotton On Group brands to help tell our story to the thousands of customers that visit our stores globally. Earlier this year, she had the incredible opportunity to visit our projects in Southern Uganda so that she can continue to report on the impact that we’re having in these communities.
To say that I was blown away would be an understatement! I have always known that with the support of our customers, the Cotton On Foundation is able to change people’s lives. But to see our projects firsthand, and to meet the people that we are impacting was a very special experience that I am extremely grateful to have had.
My trip started in Busibo, the second central village to receive Cotton On Foundation support. Greeted by our wonderful team members who are based in Uganda, we immediately felt at home!
We spent three days in Busibo during which we were able to experience a range of amazing projects. One of the greatest highlights of my trip was the time I spent with the women from the community in their nutrition class. It’s a program that’s supported by Cotton On Body and their customers, and it’s making a huge difference to these women and their families. They’re being taught about the importance of nutrition and how to cook healthy meals which is helping to prevent malnutrition in their communities.
After the class I was lucky to visit some of the women in their homes, so that I could get to know them better and meet their families.
Whilst visiting one of these women, Resty, her husband Mr George asked me if I’d ever eaten a Jack Fruit.
I told him I hadn’t, and within one minute he was on a ladder banging one down from a tree in his backyard! And what a treat it was!
Every one of these women was so grateful for our visit, and gave us an abundance of fruit and vegetables as gifts. Taking gifts from them in their basic mud brick homes was very hard, as I could see that they have so little. It’s considered disrespectful not to take their gifts, so we did and I felt so honoured and blessed to have crossed paths with such beautiful people.
After three incredible days in Busibo, we went to visit four university students in Kampala - Herbert, Fred, Peter and Remeguis who have been able to further their education thanks to the support of our customers. This was an incredible afternoon! I spoke to them about their courses and hopes for the future, and they all said something very similar to me at the end – “Thank You”. If it was not for the support of the Cotton On Foundation, they would never have had the opportunity to go to University or dream about the futures they want. It was so heartfelt and genuine, and they just want everyone to know that they are not taking this opportunity for granted. They are working to make sure that they can secure a good job and earn a steady income for their families.
Half way through my trip and I was feeling very mixed emotions. I was so uplifted by the people, the Uni students, the women in the nutrition class, the teachers in the schools and the families who invited us into their homes. Everyone is so happy and so grateful for the support they have been given through various Cotton On Foundation programs. The children are incredible, so full of love, excitement and happiness! However, it also made me realise how far we have to go. How can so many families still have no access to clean water and live in small mud brick homes? Why are there still children with no shoes, walking for over an hour every day to get to school?
Although many people now have brighter futures, we still have a long way to go and I’m so fortunate to work alongside an amazing team to help bring about more positive change to these communities. With every dollar raised, we get closer to helping another Herbert achieve his dreams!
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