Turning Passion into Action

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!

Photos show:  me with some of the ladies in Tororo while distributing new loans,Karon with Tororo borrowersCarolyn teaching some new computers skills to Suzan, the group’s hard working Loan AdministratorCarolyn training Suazn

and a photo of Norah, the group’s dedicated Loan Coordinator:

Norah

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.

 

 

 

 

My heart sings!

DSC01213This morning I was working in our loan office with our loan administrator when a borrower came in.   Sharifa is a mother of two and a tailor – we would call her a seamstress.   She loves her work but prior to getting a micro loan last January her business was poor as she could only afford fabric and materials to make one school uniform at a time.   We were thrilled when, one month after receiving her loan she was able to obtain a contract for an entire school.   She is now finishing her second loan and came by to share the good news that she now has contracts with three schools and in order to keep up with the work is hiring local, village women to help her! Wow!  This is microfinance at its best!

She reports that her children are now in very good schools and everyone in her family is eating well. She says she is happier now because she is providing well for her family and now dreams of building her own permanent house!

These moments are the reason we all do this work.   It really made my heart sing!  Above is our picture!

Giving and Receiving

Today, we head out to observe final repayment day of the current loan cycle and to distribute new loans. This is one of the most joyous days I have here.  As we arrive in the villages, we are often met with songs of welcome and wonderful dancing. As we distribute the loans, the women are so thrilled and so grateful, often kneeling as they shake our hands. Others simply engulfing us in joyous hugs! This is microfinance in action!   This is the love of TGC supporters in action!   Photos tomorrow!

While all this is going, many, many people are working away behind the scenes, here in Uganda and at home in the U.S.   to help make all this happen. I am very fortunate to have my colleague and fellow board member, Carolyn Corwin, with me on this trip. As you’ve read in her blog posts, she is a very compassionate, giving person. She is a great example of someone who gives her time, her talents and her money to serve a cause dedicated to helping others. And she does all of this leaving at home, a husband, two children, a very business she runs with her husband and like all TGC board members and volunteers, pays for the trips out of her own pocket!

While here, she works with our staff here to solve technology problems, bringing an expertise that I don’t have and that is desperately needed. She also keeps my technology running enabling me to blog, do email, make phone calls and more!   This allows me to work on some broader issues like how to better use our strategy to move the needle of poverty for our lady borrowers. It gives me the time and energy to effectively meet and plan with our Ugandan partners. Her gifts to this program and the women of Uganda are immeasurable!

I am blessed to have many such women on The Greater Contribution Board and as volunteers in the organization. They don’t all come to Africa with me, but they work tirelessly behind the scenes, very day, to help change the lives here.   Why do people give so unselfishly? Because they get so much in return. To be able to make a transformative change in someone’s life, is a great gift.   I know that many of you have given financially to make this work possible. Thank you for being an important part of this work and I hope you’re enjoying the gift of being able to change lives!