By Melissa Miller, SowHope Board Member
I was expecting Tuesday to be a fully exhausting day of emotional ups and downs. Our team of eight was conducting field visits today…meeting and engaging with the women participating in our women’s groups through microloans, literacy, and wellness projects.
Wow, I feel spent (as I sit riding on the bumpy crevasses that are doomed to be the roads in rural Uganda). I’m hot and sticky…definitely not the cleanest that I’ve been in my life, and it feels really good to be sitting right now. I wonder if we are coming up to our last field visit for the day.
[We slow down]
What are we doing…maybe we’re…what? There’s a woman in the bush. What is she doing?[Pastor James, driver and guide] “She heard Mary was coming and she didn’t want to miss seeing her. So she’s been waiting for her on the side of the road.”
The woman smiles a huge greeting as Mary rolls down her passenger window. You can see the excitement in her eyes and the marks of the day’s toil on her hands and feet. As quickly as she appeared, she sprints toward her home as we turn the Jeep decidedly toward her house.
We all exit the Jeep and are greeted by Klementina and her husband, Matia (who keeps a respectful distance away from us; not saying a word).
Isaac, one of our local leaders, translates what Klementina is saying to us. We ask her several questions regarding how the microloans have been benefiting her family.
“What are some of the projects you’ve done through the microloans?”
She shares that she’s done farming and has purchased some young animals such as pigs and goats. Buying animals at a young age allows a woman to raise the animal until she can sell it for more than she bought it – making a profit. She bought a baby pig for 30,000 shillings ($12) and now it is valued at 60,000 ($24) shillings at three months old. Her black pig is valued at 100,000 ($40) shillings at eight months old.
We ask about her children and learn that she has five.
“Did your children go to school before you were involved with the microloans?”
Only two children went to school.
“What were some of your struggles before the microloans?”
Before, they had to depend on digging (hiring themselves out to do farming by hand) to generate income. Now, they have pigs, maize, beans, chickens, goats, and farming to diversify their income. Now, if she gets sick, she can sell a pig and it’s her insurance.
Her insurance policy is a pig…that’s crazy to think that a pig could literally save her life.
As she is showing us her animals and farming, she walks with confidence.[Melissa’s internal dialogue] This woman is incredible. She works from sunrise to sundown every day in pursuit of a better future for her family. She must be exhausted all the time, yet, here she is with pride on her face and a smile in her eyes. Do I look like this after a long day at work?
We return from our small trek around her crops and animals and learn that she was a part of the literacy class. As we are making small talk, Wes and I try to pronounce her name and her son’s name. She then gestures to take my notebook and pen and I eagerly give it to her.
She begins to write her name, and then, her son’s name.
“Could you write your name before the literacy class?”
“No, she could not write her name before the literacy class.” says Isaac.
“How do you feel now that you can write your name?”
To our surprise, she starts jumping up and down and dances while again, having a joy filled smile on her face.[Gesturing to her husband, Matia]
“What do you think about your wife’s development?”
He reports through Isaac who is translating that he is very happy that this project is developing his wife.
“How has it helped the family?”
Before, they did not have money even for the children’s school fees. Now everything is better.
As we get ready to leave, I embrace this woman who has my respect and love and also who in a very short time has reminded me of some key lessons that I needed to remember.
Life is relative. Embrace the joy of your situation. As we know that life is not easy or perfect, we can choose to find the joy in any situation as Klementina has so mastered.
We are sowing hope into the lives of women through wellness, education and economic opportunities.
To see Klementina write her name, watch this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onHMXC5YGqk
Source: Sow Hope