Last Namuwongo day – where did the time go?!

I can’t believe how fast this trip has gone! I have so enjoyed doing something almost every day, really visiting everyone at Ray of Hope, spending time talking about their needs in depth. Sigh. I guess there’s never enough time…

Today we saw Doreen, our other elderly lady. She makes beautiful paper beads, much better than the average, and she’s making a lot of new and creative things. She’s got a huge inventory though, so I don’t think we’ll give her a grant this time – she just needs to sell what she has, and she’ll have a good pile of capital.

We met a new family today (again, without my file, I don’t remember the name of the mom)… What happened was, one of our sponsored girls, Mary, had come to Ray of Hope to pick up some school things, and she was upset. When Christine asked her why, she said that her sister (who is really her cousin) Prossy had been supporting the family for some time, alone, and it was such a struggle for all of them that it made her sad. So Emily asked Mary to ask Prossy to write a letter about her situation and bring it to Ray of Hope, which she did. (When I get home I will scan and post it – it’s amazing.)

Anyway, the situation is this: Prossy is 18, the oldest of 5 kids. Two cousins, who are orphans, live with them. Her mother is unemployed. She used to sell roasted maize in front of IHK (International Hospital of Kampala, which is nearby), but they stopped all the vendors from selling a few months ago and she has done nothing else. Prossy works as a teacher in a primary school, but with no diploma she only makes 100,000 shillings a month (about $42). Their rent is about 60,000, not to mention food, school fees, etc. Obviously, a quite impossible situation! Prossy had finished S5 (secondary school, level 5 of 6), and attended 1 term of S6 but was unable to continue paying fees so she had to leave (she was “chased off,” as they call it, fittingly). They did, however, allow her to take the leaving exam at the end of the term, which she passed. However, she can’t pick up her scores, which are necessary to enter any further programs, until she pays the back school fees plus the exam fee (500,000 shillings total).

So. We gave her mom a micro-grant for capital to sell produce, which she plans to do at her sister’s place, a short boda ride away, where there are more people with more money. We extended school fees to the older brother, not in school this term (chased off) – fortunately he is at a government sponsored school, so his fees for secondary are a good bit cheaper than most, at 170,000 shillings a term. And we agreed to both pay off Prossy’s school fees so she can pick up her final scores, and pay for a diploma program at the local college so that she can get an official teaching degree and eventually make the more usual salary of 400,000 shillings a month as a teacher.

Prossy, her mom and brother in front of their home

We also tried to visit Harriet’s mom and Justin’s mom. We sponsor both these awesome kids, and last trip also extended rent help and grants to their moms. We got lost… and then we got lost. So finally we just stood still while Christine tried to find the way. Zeke made a friend!

And lastly we walked through the Namuwongo (official) market and visited two of the Nawezakana ladies who have booths there. And then… that was it!

The produce is beautiful!

After we got back to Ray of Hope, I went through all the business proposals, and decided what to do for whom. They’d all done proposals that totaled 350,000 shillings, but many didn’t actually need that much. In fact, they tend to do better with around 100,000 shillings at a time. In all, we gave about 3.3 million shillings to Ray of Hope for school feels and micro-business grants, and for a future basketball hoop for the Haven kids.

It was just a great visit!



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