Prisoners Support Organisation
The Prisoners Support Organization (PSO) is an advocacy and service organization committed to supporting individuals who have become involved with the criminal justice system, and their families.
PSO is a nongovernmental organization registered under the NGO Act 1989. PSO was started in 2005 as a volunteer ex-offenders support group, focusing initially on women prisoners (and founded as the "WOMEN Prisoners Support Organisaiton"). In 2009, WPSO dropped the initial letter,becoming the Prisoners Support Organisation, and annually serves over 5000 individuals, male and female--prisoners, ex-offenders, and families affected by a relative's incarceration.
In 2007 PSO signed a Memorandum of Understanding with BfW to receive donated bicycles and used parts, repair or recondition the bicycles, and distribute them to disadvantaged families in Uganda.
PSO offers mechanic classes to its members giving them not only just a bicycle, but the means to maintain it in addition to a valuabe, marketable skill. Bikes donated by BfW have been given to ex-prisoners, small farmers, school youth affect by HIV/AIDS, and various individuals who use the bicycle for work, school, and other necessary errands. Most bikes are sold, generally at a discount and often on credit. A significant pecentage are sold at market price to paymost of the substantial expenses involved in bringing the bikes fro the United States to this inland East African country. This policy and practice has enabled PSO to bring in 22 container-shipments (holding close to 11,000 bicycles) from Bikes for the World and its sister organization, Chicago's Working Bikes Cooperative, over the period 2007-2011. As with other overseas partners, Bikes for the World donates all contents.
Bicycles delivered through PSO have helped homemakers get to and from market so they can buy necessary food and supplies for their families. The bikes have helped workers increase reach in the markets therefore increasing sales. Some new bike owners use them to see AIDS patients decreasing the amount of time it takes to travel long distances making it possible to see many more patients. The Hormisddallen School also purchases kids bikes from PSO for sporting events with the students.
Sewing machines donated by Bikes for the World also make a huge impact on the lives of incarcerated individuals. Tailoring classes are offered within the prison system teaching life skills that can be transformed into a viable income. One woman in particular was given a sewing machine that she now uses to make clothes for women, uniforms for school children, and traditonal dresses. Her children were able to go back to school and the family benefitted from the increase in wages. That one gift of a sewing machine changed the lives of an entire family.
Zach Mugabi is a newspaper vendor in Kampala. He distributes all kinds of newspapers to clients on commission basis. He used to struggle carrying the papers with his hands and when I saw a group of people off-loading bicycles in Kamwokya, I asked if I could obtain one. I liked it because it had a carrier where I could keep the newspapers. Before, I could only sell half of what am selling now. My commission has increased and am earning more.