How We Work // Our Story

How we work

Mission Statement

Empower Your Neighbor seeks to reduce the amount of domestic violence against the women and children of Southern Uganda by empowering Ugandan women to become more economically independent; to promote girls' education; to reduce the number of Ugandan families living in abject poverty; and to accomplish its goals by using sustainable solutions and employing local Ugandan resources.

Our Empower Your Neighbor Story

Empower Your Neighbor is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded in 2016 by Sr. Maria Nassali, Cindy Pickreign and Dave Brooks.

Uganda is one of the poorest nations in the world, with 37.7 of the population living on less than $1.25 a day. Despite enormous progress in reducing the countrywide poverty incidence from 56% in 1992 to 31% in 2005, poverty remains deep-rooted in the country's rural areas, which are home to more than 85% of Ugandans. People in rural areas depend on farming as the main source of income and 90% of all rural women work in the agricultural sector. To supplement their income, some rural women engage in small-scale entrepreneurial activities such as rearing and selling local breeds of animals, however very few women have the capital necessary for the initial investment.

Gender inequality is also a substantial contributor to women's poverty. For many women, this reduces their power to act independently, participate in community life, become educated and escape reliance upon abusive men. According to the U.N., in 2000, 41% of Ugandan women had suffered domestic violence while in 2006 the National Demographic and Health Survey reported 68% of women in Uganda had experienced some form of domestic violence.

Empower Your Neighbor will empower some of the poorest women of Southern Uganda to take a first step out of abject poverty by providing startup resources for an agriculture micro-business raising/selling pigs in order to generating critically needed capital. Rural Southern Ugandan women are extremely poor subsistence farmers who lack the capital to send their children to school, buy needed medical supplies, diversify their family’s diet and break free from the rampant domestic violence in the area. Our website introduces potential donors to these women by sharing their photos and personal stories. Donors can choose to donate towards the purchase of piglets, a pig sty, and/or supplemental pig feed which will allow the women to start a thriving micro-business as pigs have many offspring and can be bred or sold in six months. We will also keep track of recipients and post follow-up photos and stories so that donors can see the difference they have made in another's life and the direct impact of their gift(s).

EYN’s objective is to facilitate a connection between global neighbors by attracting donors concerned about global poverty and empowering people on both sides of the giving relationship. Donors are empowered by the ability to choose the specific gift, as well as the recipient of their generosity, and by knowing they are concretely helping the poorest of the poor.


EYN was established through a friendship which developed between two co-founders (Cindy & Sr. Maria) while they were in the MA in Transformational Leadership program at Seattle University, School of Theology & Ministry (from which they have both since graduated).  As Cindy learned more of Sr. Maria's life and background they developed a joint desire to help the poorest women and children in Southern Uganda where Sr. Maria grew up.  During a Social Entrepreneurship class in the summer of 2015, they attempted to come up with a plan to get Internet access to the Daughters of Mary convent (Sr. Maria’s community in Uganda), and the five surrounding schools, but they could not come up with a way to make it self-sustaining.  Cindy asked Sr. Maria what would be sustainable in that area - she said, "pigs" - and the idea for EYN was conceived. As part of the work for the Contextual Education piece of Cindy's MATL program EYN was born with the help of Sue Oliver, the Executive Director of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center at the Albers School of Business and Economics at SU who mentored Cindy's Contextual Education work.

EYN was subsequently awarded the Jones Progress Award through the Albers School of Business which provides for five mentors from the entrepreneur/nonprofit community to work with them for six months. If EYN is able to meet its milestones they will receive a cash award at the end of the six months.

EYN co-founders Cindy and Sr. Maria traveled to Uganda in August 2016 where they successfully constructed pigsties and delivered piglets and feed to their first three families.  They also collected photos and information for nearly twenty more families who really need the help and are committed to doing the hard work of raising pigs.