I write this from the city of Kampala.
As I write I’m hearing some nice live saxophone music. It’s so relaxing!
Kampala is a nice city where one can find a variety of cafe’s, restaurants, shops and malls. I know nothing of golf but there appears to be a really nice golf course here too. I don’t have my own vehicle as yet so I take a 6 hour bus trip down to Kampala from Gulu and then to get around Kampala there’s always private hires, taxis and boda-bodas. The taxis (minivans) are the most economical but the bodas are faster and you can always negotiate the price. Bodas seem to be my choice in transportation. Besides there’s nothing like a boda-boda ride in the center of Kampala to get the adrenalin flowing.
Getting a Work Permit
These last few months have found me spending a lot of time travelling back and forth from Gulu to Kampala as I pursue my work permit application. This is a process I started last May and a process that I’ve been told should take about 45 days. It is now 11 months later and I am still waiting. It has been a long and involved process and the events and bureaucracy that have transpired makes for a very long story. I’ll spare you the details.
My permit though has been approved and I paid the required annually fee a couple of weeks ago but ran into a “bureaucratic snag” when I submitted my passport. Praise the Lord as this has now been cleared up. This is something that could have been a major problem. I am now back in Kampala hoping to pick up the actual permit. It’s being printed I’m told and I hope to have it within the next day or two. Immigration has my passport so I’m not going far.
Tegot-a too Village Project
Work continues with the Tegot village project. We spent several weeks at the beginning of the year defining the program on paper.
After several group meetings and discussions..lots of discussions…we have defined the project’s objectives, determined membership requirements and established some rules and regulations in relationship to the project funds.
The goal is to eventually see this project become self-sustaintable and managed solely by the women members. We still have a way to go but we are making progress.
Members have elected project leaders, treasurers and signatories and we have set up rules on how project funds would be used and how each member will share in profits of sold quilts.
Ladies are starting to benefit
We have also established “microfinance” loans through project funds. These are small loans that once a member has met eligibility they will be able to apply for one and use it towards paying school fees, medical cost, home repairs and for farming/agricultural needs. This is the part that took a lot of discussion and debate but members are now in the process of applying for a loan.
The way we have constructed the loans is that 50% of the interest repaid will go to a member’s individual savings account and the other half to the project’s account. In addition to loan interest, a percentage of the profit a member may earn from a sale will also go into their savings account. In everything that I have learned about microfinance loans it is always stressed the importance of encouraging a woman to save.
Training to train
I have asked the project trainers to travel to my home for additional training, a distant of about 20k plus or 12 to 15 miles, so thought it beneficial to purchase “Project” bicycles.
Since the trainers have to attend both weekly meetings and may live some distance from where we meet, plus are responsible for transporting the supplies to the meetings, the bicycles will be a great assistance to them.
We are always getting requests from women in other villages to bring the project to them so my hope is that one day these trainers will be proficient enough to travel to other villages and train these women.
The only problem with getting them bikes is in convincing the other members that I wasn’t showing favoritism and trying to convince everyone that in the end, all benefit from this arrangement.
Rules were established concerning the bicycles including a provision that states the bikes are for project business only, not for personal use and no non-member or family member is allowed to ride the bicycle. Each trainer signed a statement that states they will follow the rules. Some members still are not convinced that favoritism isn’t involved and there has already been violations of the rules.
The women are also continuing to work on quilts of various sizes, from wall hangings, table covers, bed covers and placemats. We are also designing some ladies’ bag and have what I believe will be a beautiful bed cover once completed.
I think there’s two or three projects still being worked on but most of the women are waiting for me to cut more projects for them to begin working on…and here I sit in Kampala! It is frustrating but I am using the time to do some administrative work ..and to update this blog…so not all is lost.
Will I ever speak Acholi?
As if my weeks weren’t busy enough I decided to add 2 hour language lessons, 3 times a week to my schedule. I feel though that this is very important as 99% of the women in the project do not speak English and my not speaking thorough Acholi is a hinderance. I was taking some informal lessons but now know I need more constructed lessons. I found a man who has been giving professional lessons and it is working out well, except I struggle in finding time to do the homework. It doesn’t help when power goes off in the evenings.
Good health and packages..what more could I ask!
I continue to praise God for the good health I experience. No malaria..no flu..and no stomach upsets in spite of the fact that I usually eat anything that’s put before me.
I also thank God in the way this ministry is blessed with the donations we receive in way of sewing supplies and for the recent “care” packages. I’ve had such goodies as Tootsie roll pops, crasins, and Trader Joe’s “GF” granola. Life has been good!! Thank You!
Many of these items, such as quilt batting, hand sewing needles and rotary cutters/blades can not be purchased in Uganda..at least I haven’t found them yet. The supplies received are such a welcomed blessing and so grateful for your generosity and thoughtfulness.
In the last few months we received some fabric from America. Some of the fabric will be used towards our projects but a lot of it I shared with the ladies. They were so thankful for it and will use it to make skirts, shirts and dresses for themselves and children. I’ve seen a couple of cute little girl dresses from some of this material already.
We have also received a box of yarn and crochet hooks. The next goal is to teach some women to crochet. I have what looks to be very easy instructions for making a pullover shawl. These would be perfect for the women to wear in their gardens and farms on a cold morning.
We took one day to have a football (which is soccer here) match between the beginner group and the intermediate group. I’m not sure which group I ended up in and it didn’t matter because I only lasted about 20 minutes before pulling a hamstring and was carried off the field! I’m not sure what I was thinking because I no nothing of playing soccer.
We were at the school where the children were excited and surprised to see their moms chasing the ball around. The women were really enjoying themselves and having a great time. I was envious as I sat in agony on the sideline.
I thank you all for your prayers, your packages, and the many ways you show support of this ministry and for reading this update. You are all so important to me and to this project/ministry. God Bless!
The music I’ve been listening to has now switched to African music. I feel like dancing!!