So I’m actually now back in the UK, but the final few days in Uganda were short on good internet access, so I’m going to post some bits over the coming days to give you a flavour of lots of aspects of my journey.
But first an update from our final few days, which were spent in the Acholi Quarters in the north of Kampala. It is a small slum which is almost entirely populated by the Acholi people from North Uganda, who fled the Lords Resistance Army.
An entrepreneurial group of women have formed the Lubanga Ber CoOperative and we were welcomed by Harriet who leads the group and Margaret who runs their Adult Literacy group. They have recently started a Savings Group which encourages them to save a little each month, which is really hard when you are living hand to mouth. They also make beautiful beads from waste paper, and turn them into jewellery, bowls, coasters, bags and more. Their smallest bracelets cost 25p, which is the same amount that they could earn breaking rocks for 1 day, in the two quarries that the neighbourhood are based around.
During my first afternoon there, I spent time with the little unofficial school that teacher Miriam runs. In Uganda, children have a right to free primary education, but their parents needs to fund their uniform, books and pens, as well as exams each year to allow them to progress to the next class (each year, parents need to find about £200 per child, which is a huge amount for them!). So there are many children in Acholi that don’t go to school, and this little unofficial classroom, tries to scoop up as many of them as possible.
There is a morning and and afternoon class, although the eager ones attend both, and arrive at 7am to clean the room and yard. They learn basic english, maths and singing. I had spent time in my home local infant and junior school, and took questions from our kids to ask them there, and the kids in Acholi were very excited to answer and ask questions of what life was like in the UK for children of their age.
On the second visit, our group delivered some much anticipated first aid and basic nutrition training. Health services are expensive and distant, so some basic knowledge in first aid can really make a huge difference. There was also a request to spend some time talking with some of the adults about how to make progress towards some of their dreams. Often they feel they have ideas, but simply don’t know how to plan and work through the idea, so I used some of my ‘Art of Hosting’ experience, and we sat as a group with a woman Evelyn, who has a dream of setting up a bakery to provide celebration cakes. We used a simple process, based around questions, which helped her to think through what she envisioned, why, what challenges she may face, who she needed help from, and how to get started on the next few steps. We had some great questions come from our co-operative members, and the hope is that they will now use the tool in the next few weeks with some of the other’s ideas.
Finally, the bead co-operative set up shop and gave us the opportunity to buy some of their amazing products to bring home.
It was truly an amazing place, and yet again I met some enterprising, caring and welcoming women. And it was great to meet and see the project that CRED has been working with for the past few years. If anyone is interested in supporting any of the children to go to school, or the adult literacy program, please do get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org