March is an interim month in Colorado. A pause between winter and summer. A time to travel, if you're into the shoulder season that is.
9 of us (8 women and 1 courageous man) flew out of Denver and took the 24 hour flight to Uganda. For some of us, this was our 3rd or 4th journey, but for many it was the first time setting foot in the glory of Africa. Our purpose was to Encounter, to Expose, and to be Enthralled. Our method was an entrepreneurial business training, development of existing tailoring and jewelry businesses, the completion of a school, and the encouragement of men and women and being transformed by hope. Three weeks of beauty, joy, and the sharing in others' suffering are chronicled here.
Above, two women enjoy piping hot African tea during a break from business training. They rest against the brilliant orange wall of a recently finished vocational training school that houses a tailoring room and adult literacy class between farming activities.
Below, some of our favorite images of "The Farm" as we commonly refer to it. A boy heading for home after pumping the evening's water, two small friends: Mary and Susan, patiently playing while their mother attends business school, a woman grinding peanuts into butter.
Next, our Entrepreneurial Training Course taking place in the adult literacy room in the Vocational Training Center. The class was originally supposed to allow for 35 students, but due to an incredibly eager crowd, we graduated 59! You can see the room broken into 7 different table groups where we processed information as teams. Of the 7 groups, 5 were Acholi speaking and 2 spoke Swahili; 80% were women. As a result, we required 9 translators in order to deliver the material effectively.
It was truly encouraging to watch the progress of our table groups throughout the 6 day course. The first day, entrepreneurs were hesitant to speak out, to answer questions, to volunteer or offer ideas. As time went on, you saw the light of comprehension come into their eyes, you watched as concepts took root and the real possibility for change begin to produce hope.
Each entrepreneur received a Certificate for their accomplishment. These certificates could mean the difference in attaining entrance to university level education or even a future job. They were so proud to receive them. This is our Graduating Class of 2012!
Tailoring Class at Canaan Farm - 18 Women learning to sew
in order to clothe their families and earn additional income. This
project currently doubles their agrarian based salaries. While visiting in March, one of our team members, Angela Tingle, taught a
color compilation class as well as 3 new patterns for clothing items
that we are now carrying as a part of the Yobel Apparel line.
Buy a Goat: Give a Goat
A woman receives her goat as a part of the Livestock program run by Yobel. Throughout the year, customers have the opportunity to "buy a goat" on behalf of themselves or a loved one. Each goat costs $35 US dollars and translates to a living, breeding, milk-producing, fertilization machine for a family in Uganda or Rwanda. This March we had the gift of going to "goat auction" with the locally formed Goat Committee made up of villager leaders from Canaan Farm to purchase goats on behalf of the 51 entrepreneur families that graduated from the Business Course.
These goats will be little bleating investments for the entrepreneur's personal businesses. Each offspring is a tiny savings account that will continue to keep the grass at a manageable level until it is needed to provide a source of income or protein. The gifted goats will also provide the local teachers' salaries at our brand new Primary School through a "pay-it-forward" system initiated by the village leader, Richard Angoma. The first born female of every goat will be given to Canaan Farm to support the teacher's salary. The second will be passed to a neighbor in need who was not a previous recipient.
An Incredible Team
Our amazing team members made this an incredible experience. Each
person brought so many valuable gifts and beautiful pieces of themselves
to Africa. They offered all they had without holding back. Each was recompensed
beyond anything they ever asked or imagined; one look at their faces reveals the joy of Africa written there.
The Primary School is finally finished!
While at Canaan, we had the opportunity to meet the families whose children would attend classes here. There are over 50 families with hope for their young ones realized in this building. So many of you have placed the very bricks into this School as you have purchased bamboo earrings, bought brick cards, attended benefits and come alongside us physically on African soil.
We cannot thank-you enough for your support, your warm wishes, prayers, and hopes for us on this trip. The seeds planted here will bear much fruit for many generations!