About 14 hours from home now. Feeling odd staring out the window of the Amsterdam airport with all of its modern conveniences. The sun is just rising, pink hues light the sky. Passengers are beginning to arrive and the terminal is filling with the hustle and bustle of the already developed world; such a contrast from where I have just come from. It’s as if I am staring into Alice’s looking glass at a place so different and amazing. Looking at those around me I see a busier mind set, one more pressed for time and commitment to this amazing civilization we live in, people don’t linger here, they rush about attempting to beat time prior to it beating them. There are tradeoffs for my/our world, more rushing less connection with others, but our luxuries and conveniences are to marvel at. I am so thankful for what I have and for what I give. I am blessed to have the ability to know, accept, and take action to help change the world for others. Our work at the Greater Contribution is to do just that, to help others take a step towards independence from poverty; to gain a sense of accomplishment, to see their families prosper by providing more meals, education, and other basic necessities that they struggle so hard to meet. They are dear wonderful people just like you and I. We are all one in this world, just as the Universe has always envisioned us – healed and helped by one another in this amazing journey of life. My thanks to each and every one of you who support our work and the work of others to help minimize the suffering in the world. You are a sacred soul. Your donations are valued beyond belief and I am honored to take up the work on your behalf to help others.
We are on our way out of Mbale headed to Jinja, we have one last stop before flying home tomorrow. We are going to visit the Pittek ladies! It has been a long, but rewarding trip. I am sad to say good-bye to all of our dear friends; not only to our amazing Loan Administrators & Coordinators & borrowers in the Mbale area, but also those in the hotels, restaurants, banks, stationers, and markets we visit during our stay. Being here has had its challenges and rewards. The rewards outweigh the challenges by far. I am grateful to have the opportunity to experience and learn so much about our friends in Uganda. I love to witness the transformation and positive rewards achieved through the benefit of micro loans. The ability to teach and demonstrate to the women new ways of thinking about business and leadership within their communities is also so rewarding.
As we drive the scenery stays pretty much the same, huts and small villages along the road, road side markets, small plots of banana groves and other vegetation, cows and goats tethered by rope, and the endless line of boda bodas, bicycles, cars, taxis, large trucks, and people traveling by foot. We pass large public school areas, brick buildings being constructed and those abandoned, large open fields, and people huddled under trees or on the side of structures attempting relief from the hot sun. Everyone busy in their day to day life struggle to feed and shelter their families. These are people of resilience and compassion, filled with hope for a new tomorrow. The hard part for me is that their new tomorrow is more than likely very far away…… that is why I work hard here on the ground and at home to raise funds to provide micro loans and training. It is my hope that our help here is helping to pave the way to a new tomorrow.
Turning Passion into Action
What an amazing couple of days we’ve had. Yesterday we went to three loan repayment and loan distribution days. They have been days of seeing passion turned into action. So many women with a strong, deep and abiding passion to help their sisters .
The women in these three groups made the last of their payments on their cycle #1 and received their next loans. In Lwaboba, out of a group of 20 women, 17 were able to buy some kind of livestock – many bought pigs, many bought goats—as a result of their micro loan! The livestock is an important contribution to their economic stability, a form of savings for them; stock they can sell to pay school fees or when drought conditions result in crop failure. To have extra money to buy these animals is a source of pride for them and an indicator that their businesses are thriving!
In addition, to all this good news, I was stunned and incredibly honored when one of our loan coordinators, introduced me to her new daughter, who she has named Karon!!
Another of our groups, in Tororo, had struggled in their first loan cycle but bounced back beautifully and presented the perfect model of an effective loan hub! There was a clear sense of community and commitment to each other; they were focused on repaying their loans but also to reaching for greater goals. Their biggest commitment is to lift themselves out of poverty and to be sure that each of their sisters comes with them. They have an amazing team leading them, all strong women with a strong dedication to making life better for all the members of their group. They are so inspiring! They have aptly named their group “The Winning Women of Tororo”. That says it all!
and a photo of Norah, the group’s dedicated Loan Coordinator:
Today was training day for our Loan Coordinators and Loan Administrators. As our front line staff here we always strive to give them all the training and tools necessary to do their jobs and always do a training session each time I’m here. This time, we invited a Ugandan expert in micro finance, Bukenya Muusa, President of Vac Net (Volunteer Action Network), one of our local partners, a young and very dynamic individual who has been providing micro loans to poor women for 7 years to facilitate the session. He delivered an inspiring , thoughtful workshop which was well received by all the women.
Tomorrow, we head for Jinja to meet with another of our partners, The Pittek Ladies, before heading to the airport the next day for the trip home. It was sad to say goodbye to our local staff and partners in this area today. They have truly become friends and at the same time, the lure of home is becoming strong. We work hard while here and it’s tough to be away from home, family and our creature comforts call to us and then a woman will tell us how the micro loan has changed her life and it’s all worth it. What is so little to us, $50 or $100 is truly life changing. How fortune I am to be able to do this work and to have these incredible experiences.