Encouraging Our Sisters Overseas
We started the day with a delicious french toast breakfast prepared by our dear Irene accompanied by loads of fruit. Kyle, Barb, Sherilynn, Bill and I walked into Buikwe this morning to get a more up close look at the town. Bill led us down to Buikwe as he is a trained veteran of this area (Bill’s been to Uganda 6 times). We got a few weird looks from the locals – probably thinking ‘what the heck are all these white people doing down here’? We’ve learned that if we give them a little smile and wave then their faces soften into a smile and they greet us back with a warm face and returning wave. Bill led us down an ally into a local market where there was a lot of local foods being sold, like lettuce, silver fish, tomatoes onions, peppers, avocados (which you have to hold in two hands by the way) and many other various fruits and vegetables. There was music playing in the market and we noticed the kids dancing, so of course we tried to join in. A woman came out from behind her stand and danced with us, really taking a liking to Barb. We laughed, clapped, and danced some more, cheered Barb on and then continued on our journey. We looked at the buildings, admiring their character, and spoke with a few people along the way. One man stopped us and was particularly welcoming to us. He told us we are more than welcome in their home and to enjoy our time.
We got home from town and enjoyed yet another delicious meal from Irene. We sat around for a bit and relaxed, then we were off to another Village Savings and Loans Association meeting in another local village. It was similar to the one we went to earlier in the week but this one really stuck out to me. There are 30 members in this group, the majority being women (25 to be exact). The little woman power activist in me loved the fact this was a majority women group. They’ve really got quite an amazing business plan going and they didn’t use computers or accountants to come up with it. They have started making crafts with beads, such as purses, necklaces and bracelets to support their group. They also make charcoal that people can burn for cooking. It is made with waste from garbage cans and is long lasting, so it makes it a better deal and is cleaner than what they buy elsewhere. Three women got up and shared their stories about how the VSLA group has changed their life. Similar to the other VSLA group, they’ve been able to buy property, housing, and send their children to school. Things they never thought were possible before they joined this group. They plan to use their money from their personal social funds to buy a cow and sell the milk for money, as well as start a cow-calf operation where they sell the calves. They also currently rent out their plastic chairs for meetings and different functions, with a plan to buy a tent and dishes to rent out for local events. I expressed my admiration to these ladies for what they were doing. I told them I loved their strength in numbers and that this is something they can pass on to their younger generations of women and men. I told them in Canada we really focus on the empowerment of women and what they are doing is really the start of what could be a revolution for the women of Uganda. We women must stand together and encourage each other, especially if we have the opportunity to meet our sisters across the seas.
We left with joy filled hearts and a cloud of inspiration over our team. We drove home and God blessed us with one of his beautiful African sunsets, something many past teams have been unable to see as by this time we are usually back in our compound where we do not get quite enough of a view of the setting sun. Our driver, Jamil, kindly pulled over and a few of us pulled out our cameras and got some great pictures of the beautiful land our God created.
As I sit here and write this blog the rest of the team is playing one of our nightly games of UNO and in this moment I realized this is exactly where we are all supposed to be. Just what our glorious God planned.