Have you wondered how your contribution made a difference in the lives of 20 women and their approximately 120 children in faraway Uganda this year? The photos of the two women and one young girl below help me tell you by sharing the story of my most recent trip to evaluate the progress of the Cassava Project.
Agnes, the young mother on the left, has planted two acres of cassava. The crop in the photo is nearing harvest and will be included in the first revenues to be used for her children’s school fees and to help raise her family out of poverty. Her second acre has been cleared, plowed and planted with new cassava stems for the second crop, which will be ready 15 months from now.
Monica, the widow in the second photo, is my age. She is raising several grandchildren and is KRMA’s oldest member. After surviving a flight to the bush with her young children when cattle rustlers caught her husband’s leg with a machete many years ago, she had to abandon her home once again when Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army burned her home to the ground and terrorized this part of Uganda in 2005. Recently, Monica has been ill and had difficulty keeping up with the weeding of her two acres, but she will not give up. Because our Cassava Project provides the opportunity for her to educate her grandchildren, she will find a way to catch up with her weeding so that her crops will be ready in the latter part of 2015.
The third photo is of a little girl and her younger sister. They followed me around one day as US Partners’ farming consultant Arthur Kiiza and I walked on a narrow dusty path to one of the outlying compounds to review a KRMA member’s cassava crop. At each of the 20 compounds, I offered the KRMA children a choice of books (donated by the children of Christ Congregational Church, UCC, in Silver Spring, MD). This child broke my heart as she leaned over and watched with longing as the KRMA member we were visiting chose the very first books her children had ever owned.
On our long walk back, this same young child continued to follow me and I asked why she wasn’t in school since she was wearing her uniform. She told me what I have heard all too often. When she arrived at school on exam day, she was immediately sent home because her family did not have the 5000 UGX ($1.50) to pay for the exam. I took off my backpack full of children’s books and indicated she could choose one for herself and her sister. She was so pleased. And I fought back tears.
You see, the generous donations you give are for strong mothers such as Agnes and her children; for proud and resilient grandmothers such as Monica; and, yes, for all the young girls who yearn for a chance to read, attend school, and expose themselves to new worlds by following the “mzungu mama” (older white woman) as I walk in the bush, and meet and talk with their neighbors.
So dear donor, please keep the image of these mothers and their children in your mind and heart as you continue to support our valuable work this year and beyond!