Happy New Year folks!
As we begin a new year and I look back at 2015, I’m amazed at all we have been able to accomplish and in it all I see the hand of God at work. There has been so many blessings to count.
First, Northern Uganda Women and Children Support Initiative received its 501(c)3 tax-exempt status. A great way to begin 2015 because we worked so hard during 2014 preparing the application.
Then, I purchased a car, over the internet no less. It was an older car to boot and it came direct from Japan. Thankfully, it has been a good purchase so far. The vehicle is great on fuel and it’s a little tank over these rough roads. It’s not only used to get me back and forth to the villages, saving me from all those dusty or wet motorbike rides, but it also doubles as a taxi providing people with rides here and there You seldom travel alone here. The vehicle has also been used as a school bus and as an ambulance. One day deep in the village we picked up a woman who was in labor and walking to center so she could get to the clinic. Her water broke in the car so we might have picked her up just in time. Yes, the car has been a blessing…
…and here are some of many others.
The women’s project and their quilts
The women continue to improve and perfect their new trade and we continue to accept and train new women in the art of hand quilting.
Meet Grace, one of our newest members.
Sales have been good and we have even started taking special orders over the web. In May, 2015 some of the ladies represented the group at a craft fair in the city of Kampala and in spite of the morning rain which kept many people away, they did very well in sales.
Craft fair in Kampala
In addition to special orders from the web, we are selling some quilts to visitors in Gulu. Recently, we sent some of our smaller quilting projects to the USA where a friend represented our group and products at a craft fair in Massachusetts. We hope this creates interest in what these ladies are doing.
Busy at work!
On our way to Arua for fabric but first we had to get out and look at this magnificent creature.
The income from the quilts that these women make has been very important in not only paying their children/grandchildren’s school fees but also in using the money to reinvest in their small gardens/farms and purchase live stock such as chickens and goats. All of this helps in improving their incomes and standard of living. The money they earn is not only benefiting them and their families but is having an impact on their community. One women recently told me that due to a medical condition she can no longer dig in her garden and she uses the money from her quilt sales to hire people to dig for her, therefore providing small incomes for others.
Designed and created by Julia.
The women themselves appreciate their new skill with many of them collecting pieces of fabric from where ever than can get it and piecing the pieces together. They are making their own bags and blankets for their babies.
The look of accomplishment and pride in their faces when a fellow Ugandan looks at their quilts and makes the statement that they can’t believe something so beautiful could be made by hand in the village.
Meet Beatrice, another of our newest members.
We ended the year with a Christmas party. The women received a basket that’s useful to them in their everyday life, some washing soap, salt, rice, dry fish, garlic and cooking oil. Those with the best attendance also received a gift of assorted fabric sent to us from friends in the States. We took some time talking about the meaning of Christmas and the importance of Christ’ birth. We then took some time and praised God and took turns thanking Him for all He has done for us this past year.
English Literacy Program
We are still providing English lessons to the women who are interested in learning. The process has been slow but then again, so hasn’t mine in learning their language. There is progress though and they so enjoy the teaching. I have to commend the women who have committed to coming each lesson. As most of us can understand it’s not easy learning a second language and most of these women come to a lesson after spending a morning in the garden weeding or harvesting and then walking long distances to get to the meeting. So they come tired and maybe even hungry but they are trying and making an effort.
NUWOCSI and the women are so grateful for the young man who is teaching him.
Justine teaching a lesson in math.
Ouma Justine is a recent graduate with a degree in teaching and although he has a full time teaching job he’s able to come and teach these women once a week. He does a great job and the women really enjoy his teaching style.
English Literacy lessons
Dairy Goat Program
This past year in cooperation with JOY Goats Development http://www.joygoats.org.uk we began our dairy goat program. I talked some about it in my last blog. The goal is to have locale female goats breed with exotic dairy bucks and over a two to three year period, the granddaughters should be producing a sufficient amount of milk daily. This will bring some important nutritional food to families as well as another source of income. Goat’s milk is also easier for children to digest than cow’s milk and can be used to feed infants. This is important if you have a mother who’s HIV positive and can’t breastfeed.
Our 3rd goat.
We have placed a dairy buck in each of the three villages where most of the quilting women come from and have designated a “buck keeper” for each village. It’s up to the goat keeper to care and feed the buck and to monitor the mating of local goats. There’s a recordkeeping system they need to follow. January, during the dry season is a high mating season for goats so it is our hope that many villagers will bring their females for mating. The villagers will pay a small fee to the buck keeper and this will compensate the person who’s caring for the buck.
In about a year’s time the bucks will be exchanged for new bucks so to avoid inbreeding.
We will be in the villages once again this month encouraging folks to bring their goats and answering any of their questions or concerns. Milk drinking is not high on people’s diets here so we want to continued educating on the benefits of it.
NUWOCSI is committed to seeing this project succeed as we monitor the care of the bucks on a regular basis and bring in veterinaries to exam the bucks for well-being. We also work closely with the buck keepers to make sure they have what they need to care for the bucks and answer their questions.
Orphanage and boreholes/wells
This past year NUWOCSI became friends with an orphanage in one of the near-by villages where we work. This is home to about 27 children. We have been able to assist them by bringing clothing and food supplies from time to time.
Some food supplies!
We were also able to introduce them to JOY Goats Development and they in-turn were able to find sponsors to provide the orphanage with a dairy buck and 2 female dairy goats. This will insure that the children will start drinking milk much sooner.
I think one of the biggest accomplishments for this children’s home has been in the installation of two boreholes/wells which NUWOCSI was very happy to play a part and assist in getting them drilled. The big heroes though is a group called “Young Men Drillers”.
A team from Young Men Drillers
They work together with another organization and they provide manual, but skilled bore hole drilling where needed in the villages. They work through out Uganda and into Kenya and the DRC.
Drilling for water
The children were getting their water from a dirty, stagnant water hole that was ripe for disease. Now, they have clean, cold water to drink. The director of the home tells me that in the three months since the wells were installed the children’s health has greatly improved. There’s been a lot less illness.
This was their drinking water. Even after boiling the water still wasn’t good.
The daily walk to the water hole to collect dirty water.
We brought one of the puppies from my dog to the children and to help guard their goats. The Big Fix vets came out with us to talk to the children about how to take care of their new dog. The children named her Josephine.
Frances from The Big Fix talking to the children about the needs of dogs and other animals.
I spent some of Christmas day with these children and was delighted to bring them some “essential” gifts like toothbrushes and toothpaste and believe it or not they were all very excited in this gift. I also brought them some non-essential but much more fun gifts like soccer balls and net balls. I couldn’t find a netball hoop so I bought a basketball hoop. I’m not sure who was more excited with that gift, the children or the director! It was a great way to spend a Christmas afternoon.
It’s a Happy Birthday Jesus Party!
The little ones have the balls now but you know it’s just a matter of time before the bigger kids take them over.
It has been a busy year, we accomplished a lot and there’s so much to be thankful for in 2015.
We also appreciate those of you who support us in so, so many ways…with your money, with your time, with sending quilting supplies and with your prayers, your encouragement, in telling others about our work. You are so much a part of this work and organization!
NUWOCSI also has great board members made up of both Ugandans and Americans that work together smoothly in keeping us effective and in keeping me “grounded” and on track. I’m so grateful for their time and efforts.
I believe together we are making a difference in people’s lives and I thank you for being a part of it and working with us.
So looking forward to 2016 being another good year.
During the year we hope to begin another income generating project in the village. I won’t tell you too much about it now but here are some photos that might give you a clue to what we would like to do.
Odongo Jimmy (in the white shirt) attending a training workshop in Kampala.
Here is Jimmy getting his Certificate of Training.
These are called Kenyan Top Bar (KTB’s)
The anatomy of …what?
Please pray for us as we move into a new year.
Pray that people will indeed benefit from our projects and programs. Pray that we always look for God’s direction and wisdom in what we do and that through us all people will see the love of God.
A very Happy New Year to you!
P.S. We have a Facebook page for Northern Uganda Women and Children Support Initiative (NUWOCSI) that is updated more regularly than this blog if you want to stay up-to-date with what we are doing. You can even reach it from this blog site.