I arrived Friday night, without two of my bags. Fortunately, the one with my clothes in it got here! The others came on Sunday, so all is well.
Saturday was a really interesting day, as we went to a lunch at the home of an amazing Ugandan lady named Mrs. Mbiri. Mrs. Mbiri has the largest clothing factory in the early 1970’s under Edi Amin, employing 100 women. She’s had a bakery, founded the Women’s Entrepreneurs of Uganda, founded a bank, and is an advisor to the country’s president. He, the former Prime Minister, and several other high ranking officials were even at her 80th birthday party! There was another Ugandan lady, also extremely accomplished and heavily involved in Rotary International; a Pakistani woman who was the wife of the only foreign doctor allowed to stay in Uganda under Amin, who founded the first private clinic in the country; her daughter, a British educated woman involved in all sort of international media affairs; and us! It was really an amazing afternoon!
Yesterday, after getting my phone situation sorted and exchanging money, we went to Ray of Hope and then out into the community. I took some video footage, which I will work on when the trip is over, but you can see from these photos the demolition. Amazingly, people are rebuilding where the bulldozers razed, putting up temporary plastic, wood and cardboard shacks. They have nowhere else to go.
We relocated one woman through Suzanne’s efforts (Our women have already been relocated), finding her a nice one room place for 90,000 shillings (about $35) per month. Two others were unable to find housing they could afford, but Suzanne is out today and hopefully they are getting settled.
Today I worked all day at Ray of Hope, starting the Ndoto Project. We worked on a necklace prototype which uses scrap fabric (we don’t want to waste any precious materials!) and looked over patterns and decided on our first projects. I talked with Emily for a long time about our vision for the Ndoto co-ops, staffing, wages, oversight, banking, and other technical things. Tomorrow I will interview our first candidate for supervisor. This lady is a tailoring teacher, so, if it is a good fit, it would be a really great person to bring on the team to not only oversee the first set of seamstresses and jewelry makers, but also to take on apprentices next year.
In the mid-afternoon, Joan and I went to the fabric district near Oweno market and looked at all the gorgeous fabrics. I took a bunch of pictures, and will make final decisions on the ones we’ll use initially tonight. So many choices!
I’m working every day this week, and will also visit the ladies we’ve relocated in the community. Saturday will be a day off, then I head to Jinja on Sunday for the week “down east” (as we say in North Carolina!). Stay tuned for more updates!