Monday, November 23, 2009
By: Catherine Spears:
A few weeks ago I had the privilege of participating in a humanitarian mission to Uganda with Hope 4 Kids International. This was an incredible experience. Although this is referred to as “vacationing” with a purpose, I must say for me it was “educating” with a purpose. I had heard that there was poverty; many orphans; no clean water; government corruption; and few resources, but the vastness of it all was overwhelming. To manage the emotions meant only letting in a little bit of the reality at a time and diverting the focus to the hope and joy that fills these beautiful people.
When I decided to go on this mission I felt strongly that I needed to take something with me that would be meaningful to their lives. I knew that my life would be changed forever, but I wanted them to receive something as well. So, after having a wonderful visit with Pastor Wilber from True Vine Ministries in Tororo, Uganda – our destination – he suggested I teach the widows to make soap so they would have an industry to generate income. I was thrilled and up for the challenge. And there were challenges; gathering equipment and ingredients was difficult. I took a big black box with everything to assure their success. I also work in pounds and ounces; they work in grams and kilos. I use Fahrenheit; they use Celsius. But we worked through it.
The first session was at True Vine where 53 eager, hopeful, and excited women gathered. Working with an interpreter, we went through the process. Later in the day I assisted them while they made their first batch. I was impressed with the thought that these ladies had given to the project. They had set a goal of 200 bars per week, which they would take out into various market places. I could feel their sense of empowerment.
On we went to Smile Africa where a group of 24 ladies went through the process with me. In the background, hundreds of curious and ragged little Karamajong orphan children played and waited for their meal. Could a little soap making business make a difference in the lives of these forgotten people? Obviously it will take many projects, big and small. The big picture is daunting, but when you see the joy and hope in their faces just knowing that we care enough to come and acknowledge them; to do one project at a time – you know the efforts will be blessed and multiplied. They will be encouraged and strengthened.
So, now I am home and thinking about what I can do next. Now that I have seen, I cannot forget.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Ajambo Alumerida –55 years oldIs a widow living with HIV/AIDS. She has five children and seven grandchildren whom she struggles to support by selling fish, charcoal and tomatoes. With your help she can become self-reliant and offer her children and grandchildren a life disconnected from poverty.
Sponsorship ProgramFor $36 a month you can send a Ugandan woman through our business training course and put her on the path to owning her own business. Your donation is tax-deductible and you will receive information and a photograph of the woman who is benefiting from your monthly gift.
Sponsor a woman in the Smile Africa Program and here is what she receives:
Garden seeds and a hoe to jump-start her on feeding her family.
a strengths test to see in which business God has gifted her
a 40-session mission character class which leads her through the Biblical
principles of business
a code of ethics contract
classes in English, reading, writing and math
classes in money management, saving, banking
a graduation certificate once she has completed all the classes and has
completed her apprenticeship
seed money in their bank account to start her on her way to self-sufficiency
mentoring and monitoring by our Ugandan partner Smile Africa
induction into the Women's Hall of Dignity when she has successfully completed one year in business
What you will receive a photo and profile of your sponsored woman
quarterly updates on her progress
assurance of financial, ethical and spiritual accountability
a prayer doll named after the person you sponsor as a reminder to pray for the woman you support.
When we finished walking through Catherine’s garden they led me to their neighbor who received seeds from Smile Africa. She proudly showed us her garden and said, “Not only have I benefited from my own garden but I am a hairdresser. When the women have extra money from selling their vegetables—they pay me to do their hair.” WOW! How’s that for putting prosperity into motion?
This neighbor led us to the home of yet another neighbor who had been a seed recipient. She has a partially built house—she adds bricks as she can afford them and someday hopes to have a complete house. She decided to plant her gardens in the “rooms” of her partially built home.! Theses women are so resourceful and given the chance and tools they can become self-sufficient and I know someday she will complete her house and can say with dignity, “Look what I have done with what God has given to me.”
Thank you for making this possible by your continued support of Hope 4 Women International.
Some months ago my husband Robert encouraged the women at Smile Africa Ministries to began victory gardens much like those Elenor Roosevelt began during WW II.
We partnered with Smile Africa women and funded a project in which 300 women participated. We were able to visit some of the gardens this trip and hear the stories of success.
Catherine had a bumper crop of egg plants and a local cabbage. She generously gave out of her garden to those who were in great need. She sold a big portion of her crops and purchased more seed and rented a larger plot of ground. She proudly told me: “I was struggling to pay school fees for my grandson and I was able to pay them when I sold my vegetables.”
She brought out a beautiful plastic watering can she purchased with her profits so she can water her gardens when the rains fail to do so.
Standing next to her was her good friend Grace who also had a successful garden. As we strolled through the gardens they burst into joyful laughter that can only be shared between two great friends. Grace turned to me and fluffed up her hair. “We also had enough money to get our hair done!” They then turned toward one another and let loose with more peals of laughter.