Two days ago, Tuesday—Jinja
Jinja is known as the source of the Nile River, so it’s a bit of a tourist spot. When Wilfred suggested several weeks ago that we should visit there after the day in Kitenga and the hospital so the girls could see the Nile River, we first got excited because that is where Katie Davis (the girl who wrote Kisses from Katie) lives, and we thought just maybe we could visit her. Dave sent her a Facebook message, but we never got a reply (probably because she is way too busy to spend time on Facebook!).
Then I realized that my friend Sarah Contrucci (a marketing department buddy from our time at Sterling College in Kansas) also works in Jinja. Sarah grew up on the mission field and is a wonderfully free spirit. Through her master’s work in an Eastern University program that partners with Uganda Christian University, she learned of UAPO (Uganda America Partnership). UAPO combines the beautiful jewelry made by Ugandan women with an American market. Sarah was hired as the lead designer (she’s a wonderful artist) and, eventually, was also named the director of the Akola Project (what the UAPO is called in Africa). She lives in Jinja, travels from there to other areas to discover new crafts and ideas, designs the jewelry that the women will make (it’s sold online), and runs the workshop and the vocational program in Jinja. It’s a busy job, but it combines all her amazing gifts.
So I messaged her and asked if we could come and tour it. She said yes, and she thought she would be there herself, but was out traveling and was delayed coming home so we actually missed seeing her. Her very capable American assistant, Elizabeth, and the Ugandan office manager, Helen, gave us a tour instead, showing us the jewelry workshop, the weaving room (incredible! Their master weaver also built the machines!), and their offices. She told us how they teach the women they work with to budget and plan, to set up savings accounts for unexpected problems, to prioritize their kids’ school fees. Akola employs roughly 200 women (well over one hundred actually make the beads in their villages). That’s 200 women who are making a livelihood that allows their kids to go to school!
It was very cool, and I think it accomplished our goal: to show the girls that God has designed their gifts for a purpose, and He will use all their talents, even things like their artistic ability, for His glory—anywhere in the world!
The later afternoon was spent being tourists. We ate a Ugandan lunch of motoke (boiled, mashed plantains), posho (kind of like cream of wheat; a grain made from the cassava/ugali root [I think I’m using all the right terms]), rice, and a choice of either beef, chicken, or fish. As has happened several times before, I was offered the eye of the fish (a delicacy), and, once again, I turned it down. I always think, Oh, I’ll try it, but I just haven’t been able to get myself to do it. Plus—this is my copout—I KNOW the Ugandan offering it to me will LOVE it, so why should I deprive them? (though I know I’m depriving them of some very real fun in seeing me eat it!). After lunch, we did some craft shopping in downtown Jinja (SO much less congested than Kampala! And so full of mzungus! [white people]), and then went to the source of the Nile. We took a little boat ride on it (many of us dipped our feet and hands in—such a welcome feeling).
We drove back to Kampala at dusk and ate a late dinner of beans and rice that Mama Cici prepared. This night we had water but no electricity, so we ate dinner by candlelight!
Thanks for reading,
-I’m a day behind, so this was actually our Tuesday. Yesterday we painted at the babies and toddlers home—the girls accomplished SO much! I’ll write and post pics as soon as possible. I cannot believe today we head home! I’m very ready to see my younger three but there’s also a part of me that’s not quite ready to go.
-The little baby from Kitenga slum IS a girl. The nurse who works for Mercy took her to the hospital, so I was not needed, but they gave her medication. Today she gets tested for HIV. We have not yet heard from Eugene (I’m sure he doesn’t have easy access to Internet).
-I will also post all contact information in an upcoming post for any of you who would like more information about all the ministries we worked with