A Lesson from Uganda

Yesterday was another day in the field, going to visit some of our borrowers in an area called Amuru renowned for the terrible condition of the roads to get there!  We spend about 45 minutes traveling on a miserable road full of pot holes only to come to a complete stop and learn that there was a very large truck stuck  in the mud further down the road.   The truck blocked any traffic in either direction.  No one could get through.  A crowd of people and vehicles gathered.  There happened to be another  truck on the road with a group of prisoners going to a work camp.  They were marched down to the truck and attempted to push the truck out of the mud.  No luck.  After waiting an hour, to see if the truck would some how be removed, we decided to turn around, go back the direction we’d come and take an alternate route.

My stress was building as we had a group of 120 borrowers waiting for us, women who, in many cases, had walked through mud for miles to attend the meeting! I hated keeping them waiting and away from their businesses and badly needed sales.  Glad to be underway again, we took the alternate route, optimistic that we’d be at our destination soon, only to have our trip again come to a halt.  Before us on the road was a giant gully.   The road had been completed washed away and in front of us was a gully of about 75 feet wide and about 30 feet deep!  Here are our two drivers, William and Emmy on the edge of the precipice!

Okay, we turned around again, hoping that the truck had been removed from the original route.  The truck had been moved to the side of the road!   The prisoners had off loaded all the materials from the very large truck, pushed it out of the mud and cleared the way!  We continued along the original road eventually reached our destination, only 3 hours late!!

Obviously this was difficult for us despite the rugged four wheel drive vehicle in which we traveled and other modern resources at our disposal.  But the average borrower in our groups has no such luxuries.  They are traveling maybe on a bicycle, maybe in a crowded public bus or more likely on foot and encounter this type of situation and  they too have to find some way to get to their destination.

What’s the lesson?   Uganda is a country that teaches flexibility and determination.  Our borrowers are often faced with this type of challenge:  Roads are blocked, roads wash out, electricity is non existent, a heavy rainy season may destroy crops and months of income.   To work their way out of poverty, they must be flexible, creative in their solutions and remain determined to rise above their circumstances.  I see these qualities every day in Uganda.

I continue to be impressed with the strength and determination of these lovely, kind, friendly people.