Helping Ugandan Women, Children Works Both Ways For Colorado Springs nonprofit founder

By Chhun Sun
The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Today, more than 1,150 women — along with 6,500 children across Ugandan villages through 37 women’s cooperatives receive resources through Brandi Lea’s organization “Beauty for Ashes Uganda.” The organization asks for a donation of $23 a month to help change the lives of the women, who can borrow from the fund to start their own businesses.

The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)

On the walls of Brandi Lea’s Colorado Springs home are pictures of her “mamas.”

That’s what she calls the women she helps through her nonprofit Beauty for Ashes Uganda, which provides resources to single moms and widows of the country’s Teso region.

Through programs that focus on writing, reading, math, sanitation and hygiene and other life skills, the women build a life that could benefit their children, their village and practically anyone else they come across.

“Watching a 61-year-old woman write her name for the first time is nothing short of sacred,” Lea said. “These mamas say, ‘I’m not getting cheated at the market anymore because I can read the receipt. I can participate in the village meetings and my kid’s school isn’t laughing at me anymore because I can read my kid’s report card. I know how to do these things now.'”

Besides visiting Uganda about three times a year, Lea does all her work in Colorado Springs.

She finds donors, manages the organization’s social media platforms and website and talks to her Ugandan staff via Skype.

“Sometimes I’m sad I have to live here,” she said, “but I know I’m more use to them here than I am there and that I can use my voice here and I can share their stories.”

It all started with cows.

In August 2010, Lea got divorced. She found herself as a single mom of three, going through “the worst time of my life” and in need of some healing when her Ugandan friend Akwango Anne Grace Elotu called not long after the separation and asked if she’d like to buy some cows.

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