July 11th, 2009
Written by Tara Hawks, Director of Sewing Hope (a Fount of Mercy program)
Today was our first day spent in a village. We went to Wairaka to meet with the leadership of Message of Hope Ministries (MOHM). The day started with a boda (the local alternative for a taxi....jumping on the back of a moped) ride to meet Judy and Georgette. We headed into town and went to the taxi park, where we negotiated a matatu ride out to Wairaka. A matatu is the Ugandan version of a public transport system...basically a fifteen passenger volkswagen bus-type van into which they cram as many people, bags of maize, and chickens as possible. They stop all along their path, letting people off and picking people up.
When we got to Wairaka, we headed to Sarah's (MOHM's tailoring teacher) shop, where we met up with one of her older sons, Seth. We followed him to his mother's home, where we spent an hour or so, catching up, laughing, and drinking a hot poshu drink...much like drinking cream of wheat, actually. I had a great time!!! They have truly become like family to me.
We then headed across the main road to Isaac and Irene's home to officially have our meeting. They welcomed us warmly, and as we waited for Isaac to run an errand (this is called "African time"...things happen when they happen...they cannot be rushed), we got a lesson from Irene and Sarah about how the traditional "gomas" is worn. A gomas is the traditional dress for respectable women...it is definitely a ceremonial dress, and expected to be worn at funeral, weddings, etc., but is also a day-dress for many women. They start wearing it when they "are grown", as Irene put it...or when they get married, really.
Judy volunteered and was a great sport as they dressed her first in the striped underskirt, then put the dress on and tied the sash. The real test came when they stepped back and said, "now it is your turn!" She was amazing and gave it a shot...only making a few mistakes, which they quickly corrected.
We had our meeting and discussed all aspects of the tailoring program and what our team will be doing while here, as well as this coming year and the future years. The exciting thing about MOHM is that one, they have the most amazing teacher, Sarah, who is very talented and driven, and two, they are the farthest along of our organizations, as far as the women's skills go. They spoke of Tausi, [who is quoted in our press kit, which you can find at www.sewinghope.net] and how she and 2 other ladies have taken their skills and begun to make children's dresses, selling them in local villages. This has been our hope for them, and it is gratifying to see that they have already began.
We ate a local meal with them, and then headed back to Sarah's shop. On the way, Sarah stopped and introduced us to Beatrice, who was a previous student of Sarah's, who now works in a small shop where one can buy what this muzungu (word for white person) believes is a weave. ha! Anyway, she was sitting there hand-embroidering some small table linens with beautiful flowers.
It has been an exhausting, but gratifying day. It is so good to reconnect with everyone here and see their progress and be reminded of their needs. We have a day off tomorrow to rest, then will begin our seminars with MOHM on Monday. Until then....