Reflections on coming home

I’m back home and naturally reflecting on my most recent trip to Uganda and making comparisons between life in Uganda and my life here.   The obvious comparisons have to do with our widely different standards of living.  At times, just seeing the unrelenting poverty, day after day, mile after mile is really hard.   I just can’t believe that almost half the world lives like that.   It just doesn’t seem possible.  It seems like it must be a  science fiction movie about the end of civilization and yet I know it’s reality.   But what a reality and how vastly different from life in America.

Most of our loan clients live on less than $1.25/day –hard to imagine, but true.  9e TYPICAL HOUSINGThey live in mud huts with palm leaves for roofs or if they’re a little higher on the economic ladder, they can afford a tin roof and maybe a cement floor instead of mud and dung.    They eat one or two meals a day and suffer from an array of medical issues, some of them quite serious,  that can easily be cured with a few dollars worth of medicine — a few dollars they don’t have.  Their children go without shoes and many never go to school since that requires paying school fees.

Yet in the midst of this abject poverty, I see a human spirit that is amazingly resilient.   I see strength, wisdom and determination in these borrowers. 13a Borrower listens intently during trng It is remarkable to me that people can retain hope and ambition and the drive to learn and to better themselves against such incredible odds.   Equally as important, they are neither bitter nor cynical.   They are loving, kind, and appreciative.   I wonder if I would do so well in their circumstances.

I am deeply grateful for the privilege of helping the women of Uganda.  The cost to help is so little and yet makes such a very big difference.

Upon arriving home, I received an email from our Loan Administrator, Annette, who wrote, “ DSC00784…thank you for the lives of many women that you have changed within a minute and for their

beautiful smiles that shows real hope restored.”

I am also grateful that so many of you are of a like mind and give of your time, your talents and your financial resources to enable us to do this work.  If you would like to get more involved with this work, please email me at:   Karon@GreaterContribution.org.  Or if you would like to give a little each month to provide micro loans and help sustain our work,  please go to www.GreaterContribution.org and click on the Donate link and follow the prompt.

Thank you for following my journeys to Uganda and for your support.  Till next trip…

 

 

 

 

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There is nothing I enjoy more than distributing the loan money to borrowers!   You can almost feel the anticipation as the women gather to receive their loan proceeds.   The loan money is carefully counted at the bank and placed in individual envelopes with the borrower’s name and loan amount ahead of time.     As each woman receives her envelope, we congratulate her, she in turn thanks us profusely and occasionally even kneels before us!   Many tell us they will work hard and be successful;  some say they won’t let us down!  Many are shy and simply say thank you.  It is inspiring and humbling to see how much a small loan of $100 or $200 can mean and how grateful the women are.   Truly a moving experience.

Here’s a woman counting her loan money…..

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…and a couple of borrowers in Tororo receiving congratulations from me.Karon congratulating a borrower in Tororo

In the Lwaboba center, our Loan Administrator, Annette Nasirumbi, asked the borrowers into the office in groups of three to receive their loans.  As each group came in, Annette would deliver a few words  of encouragement to each group, reminding them that this loan represented a great opportunity to turn their lives around and that they should not squander it!  I was impressed that each time she delivered  the message, it was a little different and yet always delivered with love, and inspiration!   Annette is  a remarkable  leader.

Here are a trio of Lwaboba borrowers who just heard Annette’s message and just received their loans.   They’re seeing a new future on the horizon and you can see the joy and excitement on their faces.   DSC00784

 

Thank you to all of you who make these loans possible.  You’re helping to change the world one loan at time.   Please spread the word about TGC to all you know who would like to make a real, life changing difference in the lives of women. 

 

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Visiting Borrowers

After three days without an internet connection, I have so much to tell you!

Recently,  we re-visited our amazing administrative team and some individual borrowers in Lwaboba.   Here you see Annette, our Loan Administrator and Fenny, one of the senior members of the community, in their new office.   They are thrilled with the new opportunities that the program brings them and are jumping into their new roles with enthusiasm, joy and creativity!  They are determined that every woman in the program will be successful.

Annette and Fenny in their new office.

Annette and Fenny in their new office.

Visiting borrowers in their businesses is always an interesting experience.  Many of the women run their businesses from their homes (like many of us in the U.S.!) and so we had opportunities to see their homes as well as their businesses.  Here is Deborah at home with chickens she’s raising in a room behind her living quarters.   IMG_1642

We questioned the wisdom of several women in the group all raising chickens.  Would there be a large enough market for all this poultry?   We learned that in the even years in Uganda, there are a lot of circumcisions of adult males which necessitate parties that last three and four days with large, extended family members attending, all eating lots of chicken!   Carolyn Corwin worked with quite a few of these women on their business plans and now knows so much about this business that the ladies have jokingly dubbed her the poultry expert!

Aidah is a lovely, tall woman who told me her older husband is in poor health and she is the sole support of the family of seven!  Her five children sleep on the floor in this tiny room and she is both very grateful to have gotten a micro loan and also frightened about her future.   These are the women who need our help the most.

Adiah in her two room house where five children sleep on the floor of one room

Adiah in her two room house where five children sleep on the floor of one room

After visiting several businesses, our Loan Administrator,  Annette, insisted on serving us lunch at her home , which you can see consisted of potatoes (called ’Irish’ here), rice, bananas, chicken, beef and  the au juice from cooking the meat and poultry.

Lunch at Annette's house.

Lunch at Annette’s house.

The  Ugandan diet is sadly lacking in vegetables and we’re always glad to eat a more healthy diet at our hotel.  But the fact that the food is such a lovely gift from a lovely woman living in such incredibly poor conditions is so moving and generous that lack of vegetables is irrelevant.  Annette explained that we had done a lot of business together and it was time to “come together in friendship”.  The character of Ugandan women is strong, loving and a treat to experience.  How could we not help them?

 

 

 

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