Last October, through a series of divine connections via Instagram, I got connected with ROWAN (Rural Orphan and Widows AIDS Network) in Mawanga. We established a women’s cooperative there in the village, to teach women basic tailoring and make items for our Ndoto Project. That group has had a little bit of a rough start because our supervisor/teacher had a very busy schedule and they didn’t get the training and supplies we were hoping for. BUT, Emily at Ray of Hope contacted an old friend of hers, Edith, who has a tailoring shop and has done very well for herself and her family over the last 20 years, and Edith took on the task of training and educating our women with such wonderful generosity and enthusiasm. She went with us to Mawanga, met the women and spent the whole Saturday with them, teaching them to make skirts using paper for practice. Since we weren’t going to be able to bring anything back this trip anyway, Edith is spending a lot of time just teaching the ladies the basics — she has really embraced our vision of EDUCATION for self-sufficiency first, and I couldn’t be happier! (She went this week as well, spending 2 days with the ladies!)
The rest of us aren’t tailors, so we spent our time enjoying Pastor Paul and his wife Edith’s hospitality, playing with the children of ROWAN, hiking a nearby mountain, and (in Allie’s case) doing a walk-about. The food and company were great, the mountain was AMAZING, and the ladies were all very happy to be learning new things. Mawanga is a rural village, so we had no power or running water, barring a few solar-powered light bulbs in our room, but it’s also peaceful and friendly and — at least in rainy season — bountiful with fresh produce, eggs, fruit trees, and lots and lots of rice growing everywhere. While going out to the squatty potty in the middle of the night armed only with a headlamp is not my favorite activity, I really love being out in the village, not having cell signal, seeing the stars, and spending time just talking and eating together.
The take-away? Well, Hannah probably said it best: “When I said I was going to Uganda, people kind of looked down on them because they were poor. But they’re smart! And so generous!” Yep. We are all the same, although Americans tend to forget that. We were blessed to be born in a land of immense material wealth… But there’s a lot we could learn from Uganda, including the rural villages, about community, love, joy, generosity, hospitality, and hard work. I am always humbled by those parts of Ugandan culture that we can’t even come close to matching. I think I would trade a lot of my material goods for those qualities in my life!