On my first visit to Uganda in 2010 we met Sunta and her little baby boy, Emmanuel. His name means “God with Us” and he was very sick. She handed him to me and asked if I could pray for him. When I held him he was so light that he felt like nothing more than a bundle of blankets. In January 2012 we returned and Emmanuel had been recently hospitalised, but had returned home to his mother. In August of that same year, we were deeply saddened to learn that he had passed away.
Yesterday during our meeting at Barr village, as soon as Sunta entered the building our eyes locked and I felt immense pain. As a new mother, I finally could relate to the pain and suffering she felt, and the weight of her burden hit me square in my chest. I couldn’t contain my tears. Luckily I was wearing a traditional Ugandan dress that the women had made for me last time, so I could discreetly mop up my tears with my puffy sleeves.
When we spoke with her outside, she was full of joy and happiness and gave us hugs telling us that she was doing well. She was so happy that we had come and was overwhelmed that we remembered her face and her story, like somehow I could forget the image that is burned into my consciousness.
It is for women like Sunta who we run Cents for Seeds. They are hardworking, incredibly so, and they are resilient. They are caregivers, smart, intelligent and loving. Yesterday the women of Barr sang us many songs that they had written for our visit. “Thank you for lifting us from poverty caused by the war, to prosperity. God Bless you Love Mercy. We have never met a visitor who is kind like Caitlin and Eloise.” Needless to say my puffy sleeves were sopping wet by the time the 3-hour meeting was over.
We visited the recently built storehouse and saw the returned loans of 30kgs of beans. We encouraged the women to continue to bring the excess of their harvest so that together, they can collectively sell their crops to a bigger market. This program works. Not because of us, but because these women are desperate to make a better future for their families and community. It works because our staff, Jimmy and Florence, are committed and passionate, smart and sensitive, and they want the best for these women. They know that we are uniquely placed to be able to empower these women with skills and provide them what they need to grow a better future.