Cardiff woman lends a hand to Ugandan women
LKA Foundation helps villagers with money-making projects
One morning about five years ago as she walked with her husband near Cardiff School, Lorraine Esgate was startled to encounter an unexpected spectacle.
A lithe woman calmly glided through school traffic on an elongated skateboard, a child strapped into a seat mounted on the board’s front side.
“She has her baby in the front with the helmet on, and then her daughter was riding her skateboard next to her on the way to Cardiff School,” said Esgate, who had only recently moved to Cardiff from downtown San Diego’s Marina district. “I thought, ‘This chick is too cool for this area. She is so cool, I have to meet this person.”
Not long afterwards, Esgate met the skateboarding mom, Fiona Archdale, through their mutual activism in a community cause.
Upon becoming friends, Esgate became involved in a cause spearheaded by Archdale that goes far beyond the boundaries of the city of Encinitas.
Archdale is the founder of the nonprofit LKA Foundation, which works with women in rural villages of her native Uganda. Esgate is a supporter and a trustee on the foundation’s board.
The organization’s goal is to enable Ugandan women to set up their own small money-generating enterprises within the existing framework of their villages’ lifestyle and economy.
Essentially, Archdale said, the foundation’s projects are driven by the women themselves in villages located within the area where she grew up in Uganda.
The projects are structured to fit into the traditional time frame of a village, in which women are typically free during the hottest part of the day from noon to 5 p.m. to pursue their own activities.
LKA, which launched in 2018, titles the program Women Who Make. It has helped women to buy materials to make baskets, shopping bags and pottery, among other items. The organization purchased sewing machines so women could tailor dresses and other clothing, while teaching others to use the machines.
Archdale even raised money enabling village women to buy piglets, which they raise, interbreed and market for profit.
“They sell for a significant amount of money,” Archdale said. “It’s a huge amount of money in one sale. We had a pickup truck full of piglets (for delivery) and these women were dancing, they were so excited.”
In addition to the focus on women, LKA sponsors youth soccer teams in their villages.
From her own experience growing up, Archdale understands that what Udangan women need most is cash. Because of the African nation’s fertile land and favorable climate, families normally have enough to eat but lack the money for other needs, she said.
“The poverty itself is from the lack of resources,” Archdale said. “Why do women need extra income? There are no free schools at any level. There is no free health care.”
The foundation’s immediate goal now to raise enough money to construct a women’s center along the main commercial road running between the villages and Rwanda, said Archdale.
The center would offer women the opportunity to work together on their projects, sell and display their wares and hold meetings to discuss their efforts and community issues.
“The thing that really drew me to Fiona’s foundation is that it is 100 percent community based,” Esgate said. “It’s all based around their lifestyle. ...
“She is going in with the knowledge base of having grown up in Uganda, knowing how things work there and being able to help people from the ground up. I think that really makes a difference.”
Archdale’s outreach to Uganda stems not only from her sense of responsibility, but also from nostalgia for her experiences growing up there. She visits at least once a year and communicates regularly with the villagers.
“I was looking for something to connect me back to my community,” said Archdale, who besides English, is fluent in four African languages. “As much as I talk about all these different places that I’ve lived, I’m forever homesick.
“I’m homesick today. I’ll be homesick tomorrow. I’m homesick when I’m there because I know I’m going to leave tomorrow. ... I decided to start my own organization named after my children, so it will give them a connection to their culture at some point.”
L stands for her daughters Leah, 13, and Lily, 7; K is for their Ugandan middle names; A is for Archdale.
In addition, Archdale’s household includes three children from her domestic partner, Randolf Cherewick — Jacques, 18; Emile, 12; and Nathalie, 12.
Esgate and her husband are raising two sons — Colt, 8, and Knox, 5.
After growing up in Uganda, Archdale moved to England, where she attended the University of Birmingham and attained a joint honors degree in political science and social policy.
After living a short while in Sweden, she moved with her ex-husband to this area in 2014.
Rather than shrink from the spotlight in her new community, Archdale chose to participate in public life and make her voice heard.
It is in keeping with the name that, in keeping with her culture’s tradition, she was given at birth, one meaning of which is “warrior,” she said.
“The idea of fighting for what is right is what has kept me alive,” Archdale said.
That spirit comes through in Archdale’s tenaciousness with regard to local Cardiff issues, Esgate said, as well as her commitment to the women from the villages she grew up around.
“Just hearing it from her — the way she tells it, you can hear her pride in it and how much she pours into it,” Esgate said.
For more information on the LKA Foundation, visit lka-foundation.com.
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