Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Monday, August 29, 2011
Sledge hammer 50,000
Long iron lever 40,000
Pick axe 15,000
Pick axe handle 2,500
4 Men (work 1 day) 20,000
Total 152,500 UGX (about $75 USD) per set
them a bit about how that first day they received a payment they might be tempted to use the money in many ways. I reminded them that if they made that choice, all the ladies sitting next to them would go hungry. We then talked about how if they used that money to food all the ladies rather than allowing them to sustain themselves as they had in the past for just a few more days they would again deprive the group of future success.
They all seemed to understand, but I will pray that they truly do. I encouraged them to expect me to return and that I also expected to find that each lady had her own set of tools. At the same time, the number of things that can go wrong with this plan are enormous and entirely unknown. Please pray with me that this project does more good than harm.
Even though the Natopojo Women’s Group wasn’t interested in talking about the work they were currently doing and learning how they might make that work more profitable, we did talk about what kind of skills the women have and what resources are available in the area. We talked about developing a business for themselves that doesn’t rely on me or anyone from other unreachable areas to sustain them.
Two ideas came to the minds of this women’s group: slaughtering and quarry work with marble (rather than the simple foundation stones). When trying to understand why they needed to purchase animals to slaughter and not simply offer the service to those who already own animals, I learned that the Muslim men own this craft and that they do it in exchange for small piece of meat. When asked why someone who needed this service would choose them over the Muslim men, the women quickly realized this might not be the best option.
The group agreed that quarry work in marble would be the best option for them. Can you imagine? An old lady’s best option for work is in the marble quarry. After asking at least 12 million questions – some of which anticipated the “but we still need…” after I’ve already provided something – we created a list of materials needed to start the work.
Milton ran to the hardware store to get prices for those items. For 100,000 UGX (about $50 USD) we could purchase the five tools needed to start working in the quarry. For 20,000 UGX (about $10 USD) we could pay four men to do the physical work in the quarry for one day. Can you imagine chopping marble all day for 5,000 UGX (about $2.50)?
Sunday, August 28, 2011
In working through the mindset about workshops and skill straining, I sensed that the Karamajong are hardened. I felt disappointed that they had this pattern of expectation and that if someone didn’t follow that pattern they had no use for them. By questioning the women in depth, I got a glimpse of why they might feel this way.
The Karamajong are National Geographic-like. They live in mud huts, wear wraps, carry sticks, and seem somewhat primitive (for lack of a better word). This kind of life is interesting to people in more developed countries and as a result many groups establish non-government organizations here. Those groups take photos, tell stories, write proposals, and get lots of money to help infuse the region with skills, materials, and food. Then, those same NGOs use the money for themselves and not for the Karamajong…or so it seems to the people who live here. The Karamajong are exploited for the money they bring in. Alternatively, as with the soap-making NGO, skills training is delivered but that training is not sustainable when the NGO leaves.
Even Ugandans exploit the Karamajong. They travel this far distance to purchase stones from their quarries, and because they know how desperate the people of Karamoja are they pay well below any standard of living. They know the Karamajong will accept the tiny amount of money they’re offered simply because they haven’t eaten all day…nor has the grandchild seated next to the jjaja who pounded stones all day. The choice? No sale and no food or sell below market price and eat today only to return to the same problem tomorrow.
Sad. I wish I could fix the world for these people and all the people who are exploited. I wish I were just that big and at the same time am thankful I’m not.
The Karamajong people living in Moroto are so distant from the city center that their way of life is significantly independent of outside influence – including education and development. Yet some NGOs manage to establish themselves in the region and have even created something of an expectation on the part of the Karamajong.
For example, one NGO came to teach the women to make liquid soap. They gave the women supplies to begin working and reselling the soap and provided some ongoing assistance with transportation of chemicals that cannot be found in the area. Sounds perfect, right? What the people here fail to associate with this approach is that when this NGO leaves (and they are planning to leave soon) they leave the women without a way to sustain themselves in the future. The cost for chemicals and transportation exceeds the amount of money for which the soap sells. The NGO taught a great skill but not a skill that can sustain life independent of the NGO. According to the leaders I met with, and based on my observation of the resources in the region, this approach is common. Even so, these ladies still expected me to follow this pattern.
I told the leaders I’d come to help them realize the variety of assets they have within themselves as well as the assets they have in Karamoja (which are exceedingly limited) so that they could be self-reliant and not suffer when NGOs leave. I hoped to teach them how to think critically and creatively about existing assets and possibly to find some new ways of working together as a result. For those who have businesses or skills, I came to teach them how to make those businesses more profitable. The response…follow the pattern. People were not interested in learning how to think differently or to know how to make their current businesses more profitable. They just wanted to eat that day.
While the leaders discouraged holding the workshop, my introduction to the Natopojo Women’s Group revealed the absolute necessity for the workshop and the leaders soon realized the same thing. Without realizing it, the topics were addressed in an informal manner while all the women were seated under the tree in front of the pastor’s house. I love how God rearranged my mind to meet these women where they were. While the content they truly needed was only partially delivered, the door was opened for a way of working together in the future.
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Sopping wet. Those are the words that best describe the first seat I chose on the Gateway bus. Somebody peed or somebody left the window open. I choose to believe the latter. The sun began warming the passengers and the window failed to budge. I moved to the other side. We turned a corner and I was in the sun again.
Stop. Stop. Stop. Jinja is the first main stop for the Gateway bus, the place where I boarded. Next was Mbale where I picked up some very yummy looking vegetables in anticipation of the hotel having no food. Next was Soroti where I bought…guess…yep, banana bread. Next was Matany where I usually disembark but this time I just waved in the direction of the family I know (who was not at home) and continued on to the end destination, Moroto.
People get on and off at major and minor stops along the way. Sometimes they just get off to pee in a bush. Yes, stop the whole bus for one guy. I looked up to see the back of a familiar hat and for a split second thought I’d found Max on the bus.
One lady was managing her sleepy son, a big television box, a big speaker box, a small DVD player box, a blanket, and a bag full of something I know not what…and her purse. I looked down to find g-nut sauce (the general look and consistency of baby poo, luckily not the same aroma) sliding toward my feet and the many items of this lovely woman. We all rode in disgust for a few more stops but when we reached Katakwi, a very kind older woman boarded. She produced a paraffin bag from nowhere and scooped up as much of the g-nut sauce as she could manage. How sweet.
An elderly man joined the bus shortly after the lady left and did the same thing. He scooped and swiped and scraped to get as much of that sauce off the floor as possible. How nice of them both. Then someone brought a shovel of sand to cover and absorb the sauce. No longer worrying about the slime getting all over my shoes I glanced outside at the hawkers pestering the passengers. The nice older man who cleaned up a couple bags of the sauce had used his hands and was now…licking them clean.
A few passengers speculated about what happened (or would happen) to the rest of the sauce he and the old lady scraped up. Dinner? Resale? Can you even imagine a life so bad that you would scrape up spilled food off the floor of a bus where dirty shoes and bare feet so recently tread?
Friday, August 26, 2011
|John, his wife Monica, and some of their many children.|
John talked about his long term vision for these prisoners. He talked excitedly of having a small plot of land where those who are exiting prison and had no trade to support themselves could begin brick-making. They would have work for a short time or a long time, depending on what was needed and perhaps one man would be the paid leader.
This brick making could lead to brick laying and other building-related skills so that they eventually built classrooms and apartments for themselves. What a beautiful vision for these prisoners. For a small amount – something less than $5,000 USD two to four acres of land could be purchased nearby. So close in the minds of Americans yet so far for Africans. Please pray with me that this door would be opened for John and that his vision for these prisoners would be accomplished.
I believe that God is indeed doing something special here. There’s just something about this group. I don’t know what it is but there’s something. I love those moments and I love the anticipation of knowing God is planning some wonderful surprise!
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
We called forward the tailor and cobra and both men had grins from ear to ear. One man, the tailor, was particularly smiley. Perhaps I noticed his dimples. The men were immeasurably happy and thanked us profusely for believing in them. Another man said that if he had this short list of supplies he would teach brick laying. All the skilled tradesmen joined in with their short lists.
Monday, August 22, 2011
The church/classroom doorway fills with curious little faces. Who is the mzungu in our far-away village? One week we blew bubbles during break time. Another week we blew up balloons. This week I gave the pocket size New Testament Bibles to these children. We read a few verses about hope and then they ran off with their new treasures. Hmm, what will we do next week?
Six volunteers stood unsteadily at the front of the Buwenge Entrepreneurship classroom. “What would this mzungu ask us to do?” they wondered. This week’s study was about managing operations and to illustrate process mapping for efficiency we did a little exercise.
- One person held a yellow container of bubbles.
- One person held the bubble wand.
- One person blew bubbles from the wand.
- One person held the makeshift ruler next to the bubbles (no easy task).
- One person called out the size of the bubble.
- One person recorded that size on the blackboard.
After the woman holding the ruler was totally exhausted, the group had recorded about eight bubble sizes in one minute. We talked about what worked, what didn’t work, and what they wanted to change. In essence, they made a few tweaks but felt the operation was fairly efficient. Okay, let’s do it again with the improvements you suggested. Again, chaos.
Finally an observer commented that only one person was needed to hold the bubbles, the wand, and blow and that the process would be much easier if so many people weren’t crowded up front. Two people lost their jobs that day. More suggestions for efficiency were made and the now three-person group repeated the exercise with triple the results. Watching the light bulbs go on is the highlight for any teacher.
Each team worked on diagramming processes specific to their projects and then looked for efficiencies within those processes. One person commented that they started to recognize how being very detailed in their descriptions actually helped them see things they’d never acknowledged before. This group has been amazing in their eagerness to learn and apply what they’ve learned. Such dedication from this unique business model for a community-driven organization with a passion for helping orphans.
Sunday, August 21, 2011
|Thomas my Kampala boda man is in the center.|
The old man was the barrow pusher.
Notice the background details.
|The ladies all worked hard to learn to sew by |
hand before using the machine. I'm so proud of them.
|About half the women who participate where here that day.|
These usually reserved ladies were SOOOOO excited!
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Ministry school graduates in Uganda – really anyone working in ministry here – are often responsible for supporting themselves financially. Occasionally an out-of-country church provides support but having that support is not a guarantee. As a result these folks must also have one or more income-generating jobs. With a 40+ percent unemployment rate, self-employment is often the only option.
Ministry school provides pastoral and ministry training, as you’d expect. The school focuses on what it does best – ministry. Graduates – both professional and lay ministers – have no way to financially support themselves and have no teaching or skills in business.
A four-week Entrepreneurship course at the School of Ministry began with about 12 students from the school and a few community members. Much like the work with TTATCC, these students began thinking about what kind of income-generating work they could begin. One person had a non-traditional work goal, which was refreshing. Others had ideas that mirrored much of what Uganda is already doing. I challenged the students to think about finding some work that isn’t commonly done here but is still needed or to differentiate their work in some way so that customers come to them instead of the mass of competition.
Homework assignments included finalizing the strategic framework we began in class and putting the first two sections of their business plans together. By the end of the course, each participant will have a fully developed business plan to help guide their decision-making efforts and to submit to possible startup investors. They’re already asking for teaching in other subjects so I look forward to the doors God will open for them as they expand their knowledge about business in Uganda.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
The Konoweka ladies have been waiting a long time to receive their sewing machines. Why? These women seemed to have reached a point where they believed all good things should simply be handed to them. I’ve spent the last few months teaching about God’s abundance and that money is not the commodity used in His economy.
I debated about being the “controller” of those gifts and felt like the Spirit was showing me how to draw out their own initiative and determination before simply handing over this gift. So, the weeks went on and we continued to strive for cooperation rather than one-sided giving. The ladies were charged with finding a teacher – their one and only contribution to the project. At first they poo-pooed and said give us the machines and then we’ll find a teacher. I asked them how long they’ve known me and whether or not they have seen me do what I say I’m going to do. With an affirmative response they reluctantly began the search for a teacher. I hate to say this, but they dragged their feet and whined a little along the way. So much like the rest of humanity.
Eventually we had a frank conversation. Look – God created you in his image. You can learn. You are smart women. You have what it takes to succeed. Ultimately, it’s your choice. You can choose to do nothing and get nothing for your efforts or you can choose to work and search for that teacher and be blessed. But…YOU choose. You cannot say, “That mzungu didn’t help us.” You cannot say, “God has forgotten about us.” Nedda (No). It’s your choice!
Guess what! Annie – the lady who has been working alongside me – and Pastor Jessica interviewed three teachers during the week I was gone and made the first arrangements for lessons. Please pray that this teacher is good – I have not seen her work or her character – and that the ladies would remain committed to this project. Finally, pray that God would open new doors with crazy creative ideas that Uganda has never seen before such that all the existing artisans want to learn from them. Amen!
Monday, August 15, 2011
Life is a serious game for children in East Africa. I see a six-year-old child with a baby wrapped on her back. I watch a girl of five doing her laundry in a basin filled with murky water. I walk by a four-year-old child straining under the weight of two water containers…I can’t help but carry her burden. On one hand, I see these children modeling the behaviors of their mother. They’re learning how to live life in their country and to survive. On the other hand, I wonder if these children have time for joy. The answer must be yes, right?
Sunday, August 14, 2011
We greeted the O/C (still don’t know what those initials stand for) and described the vision John and I worked on together for developing a self-sustaining training program. The O/C was thrilled, and then he asked me for a computer so his workers don’t have to walk to town to create the required government reports. If I had a shilling, a single shilling for every request…
Gathered in the tiny chapel, the prisoners began shouting out their trade skills once they caught on to the vision. They didn’t even wait for us to ask. They just started shouting (in very quiet Luganda): carpenter, cobra (shoeshine), and on the list went. Then someone shouted tailor. John almost jumped up in the air when he heard that…he was shocked. God is so good. I just knew someone was there and that what John was feeling was a bit of hopelessness…why bother asking. Our work together has been giving him new ideas and new passion for teaching trades to these people and it’s been giving me blessing beyond imagine. To see these people excited and hopeful about training and skill development…yea God!
As we exited the doors of that cement building, John lifted a fist in triumph! He is so excited about his revelation today. He said, “That was quite a surprise!” We’ll work together to create a program and then launch that program during next week’s visit. The program will include a variety of different skill development activities and the prisoners will choose their area of interest.
On the way home (to Robert’s house) from the prison, I challenged John to think about developing a formal vision and mission statement along with long- and short-term goals just like what we did with Ibanda. He asked me to think about what that would be and bring some ideas next week… “Oh, no you don’t,” I thought and said, “This is your project, John and I know you will be the best person to create and fulfill that vision.” He began feeling a bit scared that it would not succeed but I have every confidence that this project is God-designed and that he will make a big difference for these people.
Carpenter John, so named because…he is a carpenter…has been chaplain at Bugembe Prison for more than 10 years. He watches minimum security prisoners leave and return, leave and return, thus repeating their cycle of crime in large part because of poverty. Carpenter John said the reason these prisoners keep returning is primarily because they have no skills. He wants to bring in a tailor to teach people how to sew on the machine he purchased for them a while ago. He wants the people to have some skill or trade, something simple, so they can earn some little money for themselves when they are released and ultimately stay out of the system.
Something about the thinking that “prisoners have no skills” stuck with me. I’ve been teaching that we’re created in God’s image and if that is true then we must have skills because he has gifted them to us. Sometimes we automatically assume things about people who end up in prison…so I challenged John about this thinking. I challenged him to see everyone has having some skill, perhaps not formal training but everyone has some gift that can be useful in society. I suggested that we find out what those skills are and then create a program whereby the prisoners with more advanced skills can teach the others.
John is a bit fearful about starting a program of training and then having the trainer be released and having nothing to show for the work. I challenged John to see the training as small bites. Even if something like tailoring cannot be taught in entirety, teach those interested how to sew with a needle and thread, how the sewing machine works, and how to make a straight stitch. Each of these topics could be done independently and would add value to the lives of learners even if they only got one of these topics before they left.
I love to create scenarios where Ugandans take the lead and don’t look to mzungus to fix everything. John is responsible for this project in the prison and the prisoners are responsible for their teaching and learning.
Friday, August 12, 2011
Preventative health care training for communities around Uganda is the heart’s desire for a couple working in the medical field. They want to start a small ministry-type business but were unsure how to begin. Once Carpenter John and I met and he heard about Surprised by Hope: An East African Community Development Ministry he realized that I might be able to help.
Our first meeting was in Ibanda’s home where Ibanda shared his vision for this ministry. Our next meeting was at the same place but Ibanda completed some homework assignments I’d given him…to develop a vision and mission statement. Once presented I did my usual asking of a million questions to tease out more meaning.
By the time we were done, Ibanda was excited about having statements and a company name that reflect what he was trying to describe and what they hoped to do in the community. We’re planning to meet again and begin developing the CBO documentation required for formally registering in Uganda.
After our first visit to Bugembe Prison and to Ibanda’s home, I said to John…why doesn’t Ibanda begin some small preventative healthcare training in the prison. He can train the prisoners to train others and thus earn some small income. The light bulb went off for John…why hadn’t he thought of that before. I love making connections for people. Sometimes the new girl asks just the right questions to help shift perspectives and offer new views so that the stuck become unstuck. I love love love my work.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
|Half the participants left by the time we all posed for this photo.|
Still, I never seem to quite blend in.
Using the Creative Futures material delivered in Paidha, the group proceeded to realize they had many business and personal assets suitable for generating new business ideas. The part they seemed to struggle with was combining those ideas or seeing connections between them and among each other. For example, they struggled to understand how bead-making, knitting, and tailoring might be related and thus result in a new business idea where three ladies could work together toward success. We spent much time on this content until they were all confident about generating these ideas themselves. The goal is that they can continue this type of brainstorming in my absence…not to create a dependence on me.
Once they had some ideas for new business opportunities we created long-term goals and short-term objectives. The exercise we use to learn how to make the short-term objectives measurable and specific seems always to work well. The group learns from their mistakes and is able to demonstrate their understanding through examples. We tie everything together to be sure the participants can see how to start by creating an idea and end by creating the short-term objectives needed to achieve those goals and use real life examples along the way.
When asked what they’d learned, various participants said the following:
· I learned to work together with others who have products that go together.
· I learned to make goals for my business.
· I learned that I need to use critical thinking to find new ways to do business.
The church pastor wrapped up the teaching by inviting me to return with the next lesson to which the group offered a resounding applause. “Make Namulesa your home,” he said.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
When distributing the Bibles in the prison courtyard, I noticed the women had their babies/children with them…girls. Before leaving the prison I asked a female guard whether or not those children would be allowed to have a dolly. An affirmative response meant that I could return on film day with the gifts. This time the dollies weren’t prisoners, they were ministers.
I had brought four dollies to Jinja and expected two for Buwenge and two for Bugembe. Only one was delivered in Buwenge and…huh…exactly three dollies remained for exactly three girlies in the prison.
|Active and happy to have a new friend with her.|
|This girl was content to simply sit quietly with her momma.|
|The little one in red boldly approached and helped herself to a dolly.|
I wasn't sure if she was a boy or girl until...well...you know.
She was by far the most animated of the three children. Adorable.
Monday, August 8, 2011
I didn’t have enough Bibles for everyone but I asked John if any of the Muslim people asked for and received Bibles when I handed them out. He replied that they did. Yea again. What a wonderful opportunity to water the seeds already planted by Carpenter John.
Sunday, August 7, 2011
None the less, our short interaction led to a semi-formal introduction. Get this. Her mother says, “Her name is Kisakye.” Gulp! What? God is way too cool. I realize names like Patience, Joy, Grace, Peace, and the like are more common here but still…
Twenty of the brightest minds gathered for the first Entrepreneurship course ever held in Buwenge, Uganda. Our session involved evaluating whether or not TTATCC has a viable business concept, and starting to plan for the business’ success. Along with developing a number of successful business concepts that individuals may opt to implement, we spent much time evaluating the company description and the management team.
|Alone helps facilitate the assigning of groups,|
while Alex looks on.
Before getting to the name, however, we evaluated the vision and mission. I asked dozens of questions to help pull out meaning and chose clarifying words. The group responded with enthusiasm and something akin to an “ah-ha” moment. The leader expressed the sentiment that this in-depth evaluation with specific focus on the importance and meaning of every word was one of the most clarifying and valuable activities the group has done together.
Saturday, August 6, 2011
Better understanding the honey harvesting process enables us to work toward a plan for raising funds to equip these Ssese Island ladies to produce the best honey in the country. Unfortunately, the only way to learn the harvesting process, according to Aunt Robina, is to…suit up.
|Hand packed and sealed.|
|You should see my stripidy socks. Aunt Robina had|
to help me into my suit.
|Vickie gets some help from Aunt Robina too.|
|Brave Aunt Robina.|
|I'm not sure how this ends up in a jar but Aunt Robina was very happy.|
|Vickie and I fought over the dung smoker, the bees were psyching us out.|
|The smile was only for the camera. Those bees were freaky!|
After finishing with the honey, Aunt Robina directed Vickie and me to a dark area. The theory was that she’d dung smoke the bees and they’d leave us and fly toward the light. In practice, this usually works for her. Today, the bees would not leave us. Aunt Robina suggested we walk home and then take our suits off. Surely the bees would leave by then. What this meant was walking through the center of Kalangala Island to Julius’ house IN OUR BEE SUITS. Yes, we looked like astronauts…or aliens. No, the bees didn’t leave easily. We swatted and shewed until we thought they were gone. The good news is that we escaped with some fresh honey still in the comb.
Friday, August 5, 2011
|My grandsons' jammie bottoms on much older children. Cute!|
|Big belly baby means he's not getting enough|
of the right nutrients in his diet.
|Two story wood house, very unusual here.|
|Sleepy boy perched between two logs.|
|The jajjas gave me matts as a gift for the last visit.|
Yes, I am sunburned.
|Vickie and I relax at Mirembe Resort Hotel beach after the long walk.|
The water here is soooo warm.