How a potter’s wheel can change a life

In her final article before travelling to Uganda tomorrow, Sussex Newspapers’ Sheena Campbell finds out how clay from the Nile riverbed is providing a new livelihood.

The pottery business also gives widows and grandmothers the chance to meet up
The pottery business also gives widows and grandmothers the chance to meet up

Most of the stories I have written prior to my trip to the Soweto Slum, Jinja, have focused on the children of the slum and the vital work being done to protect them from abuse and child sacrifice.

However, the work of Children on the Edge goes far beyond this to ensure not just the youngsters but the whole community is helped by its presence.

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The main part of the programme, now running for three years, is focussed on child rights and child protection but sustainability and independence are overarching aims.

Once children have graduated from the Child Friendly Space, which provides education and nutrition for three to six-year-olds, they are fully equipped to attend mainstream primary school.

Despite education being ‘free’ in Uganda, the costs of travel, uniform and books is still too high for most families in Soweto.

To counter this problem and provide extra income for these vulnerable households, the project has begun providing small business start-up loans to women in the community.

Some sell vegetables they have learned to grow through the agricultural component of the project and some are responsible for the new water standpipes that have been installed, earning money by serving the community in this way.

One group of women have pooled their business loans to create a cooperative pottery business.

A group of around 10 meet every Thursday and work together to purify clay taken from the Nile riverbed.

“It’s quite a social experience,” said Children on the Edge director Rachel Bentley.

“All the women are widows or grandmothers, so it’s something that provides relationship for them as well as an income.

“They sit together and talk while they work on the clay, then they take it to a local potter.”

The potter shapes the clay into pots for them and then the cooperative sells them.

The next step is for them to get their own potters wheel, so the cost of production is not taken out of their profits.

It costs about £100 to buy a pottery wheel which could transform the business for these ladies.

Which brings me to my final appeal prior to my departure – for readers to help raise enough money to buy these potters wheels and help these women continue to transform their lives for the better.

I am funding all the costs of the trip myself so all donations go directly to the charity.

There are two ways to donate.

Visit my JustGiving page at:

Alternatively, you can donate £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10 by texting COTE85 followed by the amount to 70070.

Even the smallest donation can make a huge difference to this charity.

About Children on the Edge

Children on the Edge works with vulnerable children around the globe – those often forgotten about by society.

In the Soweto slum the charity has launched a multi-stage project to keep youngsters safe.

Its Child Friendly Space provides pre-primary education for children under five years old and educational and play activities for children aged six to 14.

The centre allows 200 children to access child-centred activities each day. The child protection committee raises awareness of abduction and allows the community to act quickly if perpetrators are spotted.

More information is available at

As part of Sussex Newspapers’ support for the charity we are fundraising for specific items.

Any extra money will go straight to the charity to continue its excellent work in Soweto.

Items on our wish list include:

T-shirts for the child protection team – just £3 will buy a T-shirt for members of the child protection team;

A bouncy castle – £100 will hire a bouncy castle for the last day of the playscheme;

Potters wheels – £100 will buy a potters wheel to help more widows and grandmothers earn a living and send their children to school.

Read more

Sheena will be updating the websites live from Uganda next week.

To find out more about her trip click on the links below.

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