Picnicking beneath the oaks on a summer evening while enjoying the talents of a local musical hero, it’s easy to forget that the rest of the world isn’t quite so peaceful. Yet all proceeds from Glen Phillips’s upcoming performance on the lawn of a Montecito estate will benefit the Community Action Fund for Women in Africa (CAFWA), a Uganda-based organization working in partnership with grassroots groups to strengthen social, political, and economic rights for women and girls in conflict and post-conflict areas of Africa.
Santa Barbara native Tom Cole and his wife, Linda, founded CAFWA in 2006 to provide material support and assistance to community-based organizations with established histories of providing sustainable and effective aid for girls and women in war-torn regions of northern Uganda. Despite the recent setback in the peace process-due to rebel Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony’s no-show for the signing of the final peace agreement with the Ugandan government-CAFWA continues to expand its involvement with local partners, assisting them with projects such as microfinance, skills training, income generation, adult education, gender-based violence prevention and victim support, health services, human rights awareness, peace building, and conflict management.
CAFWA currently works with 600 women, many of whom are considered society’s most vulnerable: girl mothers, formerly abducted child soldiers, grandmothers caring for orphans, widows, and HIV/AIDS-positive women and girls. Many are forced to engage in destructive work to secure an income, such as alcohol brewing, sex work, and charcoal production. By supporting their own initiatives, CAFWA gives these women an opportunity to create a sustainable living situation for themselves and their children. “It’s a partnership shaped by the ideas and suggestions originating from within the groups themselves,” attests Executive Director Linda Cole. “CAFWA is only there to help them realize their own potential.”
The Glen Phillips CAFWA benefit concert is Tuesday, June 24, 6-8pm (doors open at 5pm). $50 per person, children under 6 free. Tickets are tax-deductible. Visit cafwaafrica.org.