Today I took video, not photos, so I don’t have anything to upload. But I had a good day!
I headed down to Namuwongo at 9am, arriving there a little before 10am. We headed down into the community and talked to a number of the ladies from Nawezakana in either their homes or at their stalls where they sell produce or cooked food.
Mary, who we have helped since the beginning, is doing great. Her son Festo is in his first year at university, studying law; Festo has been one of our sponsored kids for 3 years. Mary had just gotten back from Nakawa market so we watched her unpack her huge bushel bag of tomatoes, the dried silverfish, and the the various other long-lasting vegetables onto her small stand. Mary also sews for Ray of Hope.
We visited Caroline, who was not doing well when I was here in May, 2012. We began then to provide her with milk every day, and she looked so great! I had been worried that she wouldn’t make it, but she really looks well. The paper bead jewelry isn’t selling anymore, so we discussed some other things she and the other ladies could do that would be unique. We’re still noodling that one!
Doreen, the other of our elderly ladies, welcomed us with her little adorable kitten. The social workers have been talking to her about relocating back to her village in the north where she has land, and she is very excited to do that. Ray of Hope is going to send a staff member with Doreen and a couple of other ladies who are willing to go back to their villages to make sure their land deeds are in order, and then we are going to try to help them build a simple house and get settled. These families all moved to Kampala years ago when Joseph Kony and the LRA were wreaking havoc up in the Acholi territories, but many own land. With some help, they can move back and have a much better life than their current ones in the slums, so I’m excited that most of them are willing to do that.
Agnes and her daughter were in her stand on the main “road” along the top border of the slums. Her stand isn’t doing very well. The market is glutted with people all selling the same things – tomatoes, onions, bananas, and the like. She is a good seamstress, but the jewelry purses that were doing so well in the market are not doing well anymore. Other groups are making poor quality imitations and selling them much cheaper, so the Nawezakana bags are getting squeezed out. Again, we’re trying to come up with some alternatives. (It’s frustrating, because the ladies work so hard, and yet their efforts at the market are going so poorly!)
We visited several other women, mostly ones who we helped for the first time last May. They are all doing well, and several have moved from temporary stalls to permanent ones. The biggest success story of these was Prossy’s mom, whom we met for the first time in 2012. The family of 7 was living on 100,000 shillings a month that Prossy brought in. Now her mom has a permanent stall selling vegetables and bananas, charcoal, sugar cane and fresh made kabalagala (pancakes). I didn’t even recognize her – she’s gained weight back and looked wonderful! (Prossy started teaching school last fall and is doing great, too!)
Tomorrow we’ll head to the “Nulu side” of the slums – the side where one of our oldest friends in Kampala (and an amazing businesswoman) has her stand. Nulu has an amazing head for business and has done so well that she’s been able to buy some land, so I’m excited to see her and find out her newest successes. Later in the week we will visit several schools, including a Senior/Secondary school where several of our sponsored kids are going. I’ll try to take pictures tomorrow so that I can upload some for you!
Thanks for your thoughts and prayers!