May 14 – old friends

Today we saw one of our oldest – and oldest – friends. These are the 2 elderly ladies for whom we pay rent, Caroline and Doreen. Today we visited Caroline.

I saw Caroline at the party last week and she looks… poorly. She hasn’t been eating much, and is weak, with a persistent cough (part of the HIV symptoms at this point). I was concerned about her then, and we’d committed to getting her a half liter of milk a day, and I was thankful to see that today she’s looking better – and drinking her milk!

Unfortunately (for this picture) I only brought my iPhone today, so it’s blurry. But Caroline is in the middle, and we’re in her home.

This is Rose. When we met her for the first time in March 2011, she was really struggling. She has stage 2 HIV, and was having a lot of problems with her ARVs. She was hawking bras on the street, but it was completely exhausting her and making her sick. Now she has bought a piece of land, is much healthier and stronger, and is doing extremely well. It was so great to visit with her!

A new child in our school fee sponsorship program – isn’t she beautiful? And smart as a whip!

Today I’m struggling with the balance between child sponsorships and the grants. We don’t, unfortunately, have unlimited funds, and 2013 looks to be more cash-poor than 2012, unless we are able to get some help with the hospice fuel costs from local hospices, and the primary school building project from schools. The grants are one time, and I know how much I have to spend going in. The school fees are ongoing, and as of now, less than half of the children we are sponsoring have individual sponsors – the money, in other words, is part of the Ten Eighteen general budget.

We receive report cards and letters from the children, and the difference regular sponsorship has made for them is huge. Many children in Uganda can’t go, don’t go regularly (for instance one term out of three a year), or never go further than primary school before needing to bring in some kind of income for their families. So the ability to go to school, which we so take for granted, is huge.

On the other hand, the women we’ve helped with grants are now supporting their families. While they still need help, especially with school fees or in a crisis (ie an illness or injury), their families are no longer starving. Literally. These women are smart, they work incredibly hard, and they have now tasted what it’s like to bring in a decent income and are rising to the challenge to do even better.

It’s a struggle, really… a balancing act, and one I’m not sure I’ll ever feel I get 100% right…

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