Jan
13
2018
2

Uganda – Day 7

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So we start the long journey home.

Things I have learned In Africa…

1. You can survive on a lot less water if you have to. I drink loads at home but due to being worried about having to find toilets I restricted my intake a little.

2. I will never, ever complain again about the toilets at Greenbelt. This week I have pee’d in some truly grim places – most of them have been a simple hole in the ground with a cover you shift out of they way and you squat like nature intended! I have learnt that when you have to go you just have to get on with it!! I have also learnt it is much easier to wear a skirt or a dress when visiting rural communities.

3. I have learned that rice, beans and chapatti are a very acceptable lunch. Don’t bother with t he chicken – it is so scrawny it’s hardly worth the hassle!

4. If you want your evening meal to come on time them place your order at breakfast.

5. The children are beautiful. They are curious and at times shy but they love seeing themselves in photos. My happiest moments this week have been sat surrounded by children.

6. A Ugandan welcome is like nothing else I have ever experienced. It is generous and loud (Ugandans are very quietly spoken!) and participative. They love a good party it would seem!

7. It is entirely possible to carry a full load on a motorcycle. So far we have seen one motorcycle carrying four adults. Other times they have been loaded up with banana stalks, about 40 pineapples, barrels or something, sacks of flour or concrete and mattresses. We have also seen live chickens and pigs strapped to the back or the bike.

8. This week I have discovered that he Ugandan women are amazing. They are resourceful, diligent, very hard-working, creative and above all else they are committed to their families. Very often grandparents are caring for grandchildren as their parents have died. They are incredible.

9. The people in the rural communities are often incredibly poor but their generosity is shaming to those of us who have so much. In some of the places we have been we have been given food, drinks, gifts of chickens and eggs and fruit and veg. We have also bought mats and craftwork but sometimes we have been given more than we paid for!

10. Above all else this week I have learnt that community is what makes VSLA work. The groups run on trust and accountability to each other. Without that trust the group will not be successful.

This week has been life changing. I think a tiny piece of my heart will stay firmly here in Africa and it may just have changed me forever.

 

 

Written by Anna Williams in: Uncategorized |
Jan
12
2018
0

Uganda – Day 6

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Our last morning in Kyotera started with rain. Just a little bit but it dampened down the very dusty roads. It would be a nightmare if you had bad asthma. Each bathroom in the hotel has a large bowl in which you can wash your feet which is very useful by the evening.

This morning we went to see four individuals to hear how they are using VSLA to fund their businesses. The first one grew coffee and matoke. She had taken a loan out to pay for fertilisers to improve her yield and at the end of the cycle her share went to pay school fees.

The next one we saw had bought a motorbike which her son was using.

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The third one is was so inspirational. She was looking after 6 grandchildren after their parents died. She was so excited to see us and she was delightful to receive a This is Epic T-shirt. She had used a loan to pay for erecting a new kitchen shelter. She was wonderful and the kids were so entertained to see themselves on the pictures.

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Then we went to see a group. Once again we received an amazing welcome! We always have to introduce ourselves and they love it when I say this is my first time to Africa but Dad takes all the glory when he says he is here with his two daughters. They absolutely love that!!!

More African dancing, some by my sister, more singing, more ‘ayayayaing’ (such a Ugandan sound I can’t really explain it!).

The local area councillor also made an appearance dressed in all her finery. She was lovely and spoke very good English. What was so amazing though was that she had been a Compassion Child and she was now in a position of privilege and influence.

We ended with a meal of roast pork and delicious roast potatoes! Of course we had to buy a pile of vegetables and fruit to take away. We have packed a few unripe avocados into our luggage but the jeep is full of pumpkins, avocados, mangoes, nuts, tomatoes, piles of delicious sweet bananas and a pineapple. Not to mention Frank the chicken who is going home with Adrine today when she is going to give him a good home in her soup! The rest of the goods will be given to the drivers and Henry and Adrine who have done such a brilliant job of taking us around the groups.

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I am currently in the van on the way back to Kampala. I am tired and my eyes keep shutting but I don’t want to miss a single thing. We have just stopped at the Equator and seen the water run straight down the plug hole. Cheesy but it had to be done!

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Amazing Uganda. I think it will forever hold a special part of my heart.

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Written by Anna Williams in: Uncategorized |
Jan
11
2018
0

Uganda – day 5

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The days have been so busy but generally full of awesomeness.

This morning we visited six different individuals who are part of VSLA groups and who have been saving and some of them have also taken out loans.

It is pretty hard to explain how significant the VSLA group is to their lives. With the money they save and borrow they are able to improve their lives significantly.

The First Lady we visited today has managed to save and.l borrow enough money to have 12 pigs which she is rearong for market. She is also growing vegetables in her garden.

The other people we had seen had bought a a solar panel and one was paying the school fees.

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This afternoon we visited a second school and took them a Solar panel which was fitted whilst we were there. Suddenly they had lights in then classrooms which amazing. They gave us such a spectacular welcome with dancing and singing. The school was started with 50 pupils in 2013 and now has 248.

I can’t believe we only have one day left of trip. It has been amazing in every way.

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Written by Anna Williams in: Uncategorized |
Jan
10
2018
1

Uganda – Day 4

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Another really busy day.

This morning we went to see a group and then to meet some specific members to see how VSLA has benefitted them.

One of the ladies we visited had borrowed money to build a well so she didn’t have to keep buying water. She used the soil she dug out of the well to make bricks to build a kiln. She also keeps pigs to pay back her loan she had. She has big plans for the next time she gets a share payment and intends to build a cover for a well. She done as an inspiration.

This afternoon we went to visit St Leonie’s School. It was funded initially through a VSLA group who paid for a headteacher. The school started in 2013 with 36 pupils and last year it had 186 pupils.

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It was amazing! We had such an incredible welcome with dancing and singing. The pupils prepared a drama for us and then a full traditional dance. Even the little tiny children were taking part. Their dancing is incredible. They manage to shake their hips whilst keeping their upper body really still. Incredible.

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We took out some school supplies with us as well as giving some money to Adrine who works for Read to buy more. It was a very exciting time for the school.

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I have loved seeing the children. They are beautiful but so very poor. Most of them are dressed in rags but their families are aspirational for a better life. This is Epic helps them to reach those dreams.

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Written by Anna Williams in: Uncategorized |
Jan
09
2018
0

Uganda – Day 3

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This morning we had the privilege of visiting an Action Audit. This happens at the end of a loan cycle and is when the saved money is repaid to all the members along with their interest.

This group has 30 members and is their first cycle. Their share price was 2000
Ugandan shillings and their end price was 2500 shilling. So that meant they had a 25% return on their savings. That’s considerably better than you get in a Western bank these days!! This group was made up of 29 women and one man.

We were once again treated as honoured guests. Dancing and singing on arrival and even more dancing when they were presented with their savings and share money. My sister and dad were presenting the money and they both had to dance.

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It was wonderful and joyful and such an exciting morning. The women talked about how saving their money gives Them Independence and credibility and completely empowers them to have high aspirations.

The members talked about what they are going to do with their payouts and many of them intended to buy land, do house improvements or pay their children’s school fees.

We were then tested to more singing and dancing entertainment before being served a tasty and generous lunch. It was slightly bizarre when the DJ started playing a Peter Andres a ‘Mysterious Girl’ followed by a Will Young song!

This is what This is Epic do. It is obvious to see the different it can make to families living in poverty. This is why VSLA is vital to poor communities.

This afternoon we went to a group to see how VSLA is working. The group performed a hilarious play about the impact that the savings group had on their lives.

Then we went to visit two separate women who have borrowed money, both for house improvements. It was moving to hear how their lives have been changed by VSLA.

Amazing day. Exciting and moving all rolled up into one.

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Written by Anna Williams in: Uncategorized |
Jan
09
2018
0

Uganda – Day 2 – part 2

 

Day 2 – Part 2
I decided that I really couldn’t squeeze everything into one post today n

This afternoon we have privilege of visiting one of the Village Savings and (VSLA) groups. It was about a 30 minute drive from our hotel accommodation (pretty good really bearing in mind it isn’t on the tourist route). The drive took us down what I would have considered some dirt tracks, passing on the way an occasional house with small children and scrawny goats and chickens wandering about outside .

When we arrived we were greeted by 25 women all wearing bright yellow tshirts bearing the logo of This is Epic and the name of the group. What a welcome! When I leave Africa I am going to demand that I am greeted in this way. They sang to us we swayed our way to a tree bearing Jack Fruit (smells like vomit apparently) and proceeded to greet us with more songs.

They then got down to business and started the process of the group. Ok in Very simple terms here is what happens…

Each group consists of 15-30 members and each member saves a weekly amount into a locked box which has three key holders. In this group each time they put in 2000 Ugandan shillings they received a stamp in their loan book which was one share. Some were saving up to 5 shares each time but if they were unable to afford it they didn’t have to contribute.

Each week there is a compulsory 500 Ugandan shilling payment to the Welfare money. This money is accessible even outside of group time should a member have an emergency. It has to be repaid but does not have interest added.

Throughout the process the members are able to borrow from the fun and this is repaid with interestThe term of each loan cycle is 8-12 months and at the end of the cycle the money is divvied up according to their savings with interest.

The group was fascinating. They have a particular process and order in which they do things and they were meticulous with their book keeping. In particular at one point there was a discrepancy between the ledger and the cash that was in the bowl so they recounted and recounted and then they all counted out loud together until it was resolved.

It was amazing. So insisting to hear the stories of the women and how VSLA and This is Epic is changing their lives. I had not expected to feel so emotional about it and on more than one occasion I could feel the tears pricking the back of my eyelids. The money that we raise in Guernsey is life changing. Without a doubt it changes everything for these families.

I also met this gorgeous little baby who was called Giovanni. I could have smuggled him away with me. Just gorgeous.

(more…)

Written by Anna Williams in: This is Epic | Tags:
Jan
08
2018
0

Uganda – Day 2 Part 1

8 January 2017
You know how sometimes you do something and realise that it is an life changing moment? This trip feels a little like this.

I have been pretty anxious about leaving my husband and children to come but I knew it was the right thing. Being able to come with my Dad and sister had been particularly special.

Today we drove from Kampala to Kyotera. The journey took us about 3 hours and on the way we got to see what I imagined Africa would like like.

The traffic in Kampala was incredible and I couldn’t get over how many motorbikes there were. Not only that I have never seen so many people on one motorbike – at one point I saw 4 grown men all crammed onto the same bike. If they aren’t carrying multiple people though they are carrying sacks of coal or 10 foot lengths of wood or chickens. Amazing! Then there are the minibuses. Crammed with 16 people and all their luggage. The city is teeming with life; women carrying large bundles on their heads with a baby strapped to their back and bustling market places.

On the drive to Kyotera by the road were multiple stalls selling everything from fruit and flip flops to bed frames, sofas and mattresses. Scrawny cows and goats wander down the verges and gorgeous little children sit and play in the dust. The drive was made even more perfect when the random radio station picked up Africa by Toto.

Written by Anna Williams in: This is Epic | Tags:
Jan
06
2018
5

Uganda – Day 1

So today my Dad, sister and my sister’s sister-in-law (confused yet?!) head off to Uganda.

We are going to visit the This is Epic the projects in Kyotera.

I have never been to Africa (except Egypt but that doesn’t feel like real Africa!) so I am really excited.

I am hoping to blog about my experiences whilst I am out there.

So today we left Guernsey set at 10.15am, got an airport transfer to Heathrow and and we have to wait until 8pm tonight. We are on a night flight to Dubai and then we have to get another flight to Entebbe

Think we might be pretty tired by this time tomorrow!

 

Written by Anna Williams in: This is Epic | Tags: ,
Jan
06
2018
0

Day 5

Dad's 70thToday my amazing Dad hit the ripe old age of 70 – I still think he is looking pretty young!

We had a little party for him. These days it feels like we should seize every opportunity to spend time together and celebrate the good things.

We had a fantastic night out at a local restaurant who could not have helped us more. Completely amazing…. and this fabulous cake topped off the evening.

So Dad, Happy birthday. You are truly an inspiration and we all love you very much… now onto Uganda for a trip with him and my sister to check out some This is Epic Charity projects. Amazing!

Written by Anna Williams in: birthday,Dad | Tags:
Jan
04
2018
0

Day 4

Table planning

This was the way I planned the table settings for my Dad’s party this week – much the same way that I did table plans for our wedding!

My last couple of posts have been quite short. I am trying to work out how to use Flickr and WordPress on the iPad so that I can blog when I am in Uganda. I won’t do my pic a day until I get back but I am goi g to blog about the journey.

Written by Anna Williams in: Uncategorized |

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