Engaging with Uganda

Sent October 10, 2014

Approaching Uganda by air is a forecast of the sensuality of this country.  The rainy season has left the countryside green – trees, bushes, fields, a rich contrast to the vivid orange/rust of the soil itself.  As I sit here now, in the living room of our B & B – which opens to the outdoors – to a verandah (where we have breakfast) and then the yard – the rooster announces morning (for many hours), birds of every size and shape create a symphony to welcome the day, the trees and bushes provide rich color, and in the background the owner/manager of the B & B sings to her 3 month old baby.  It seems that all must surely be right with the world!

Betty met us at the airport, a huge bouquet of roses and a BIG hug!  We felt welcomed indeed.  After dropping us at our B & B she returned to work and her brother, Edgar picked us up later for dinner at her home.  Edgar, and Betty’s daughter, Joanita    (now goes by her middle name, Ruby) age 11 and in fifth grade, live with Betty.  Her son, Jerry, is 15 and goes to Boarding School.  He will be home for Mom’s graduation – see next paragraph – and her mother will also be here.

This is a big month for Betty! ! !    She will graduate with her Master’s Degree in International Relations and Diplomacy on October 25 ! ! ! ! ! ! !  (AND a great time for Jim and me because we will be here to celebrate with her! ! ! !)        AND  she is readying her booklet, Common Questions and Answers about Menstruation, to send for printing! ! ! ! ! ! !    What a gal!

On our first full day here we were able to participate in a Launch of Celebrating Womanhood Program at a special event arranged by Betty and her TEU (Teen Empowerment Uganda – an  NGO she founded) assistants with the leaders of the St. Theresa’s Primary School, with whom they partner.  What a joyous occasion!  There were about 50 (11 – 13) year old boys and girls in fifth grade who participate in TEU.  You will notice that that the boys wore khaki shorts and the girls aqua skirts.  We were told that the schools insist on short hair for everyone so students (girls especially) can spend their time on their school work – and not on their hair!)

The Head Teacher of the school was at this event, two or three additional teachers, the one volunteer TEU adult that currently works with Betty, in addition to the children.  It was so gratifying to see the respect and appreciation shown Betty by both the young people and the teachers.

Those children are SO articulate and spoke so confidently about what they had gained from being a part of TEU: confidence to speak, developing the habit of washing their hands, learning to respect women and girls, learning the importance of recognizing their heroes, learning they can be what they want to be, etc., etc.

There was a HUGE banner announcing the launch of the Celebrating Womanhood  Program.   A ribbon cutting to introduce the booklet was a part of the morning’s event.

YES, Betty has all of the illustrations placed in the booklet.  I believe the medical content has been reviewed for a final time.  There are a few edits I see and she has to complete the glossary.  She is using the money from the distribution of the Developing Women’s Leadership ~ Around the Globe Project funds as part of the cost of printing the first booklets.

October 9th was Uganda’s Independence Day – 52 years of Independence.  Betty had arranged lunch with six women who had participated in her Conversation.   Powerful women!  Professionals who have – and are – dealing with their own challenges of being women in the workplace – and who are passionate about mentoring other women, especially young women.   A few pictures follow.  A note about each of the women will be included in a later post.

Betty and Jim (with a gorgeous shirt the women presented to him) at the B & B where we are staying

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One Response to Engaging with Uganda

  1. charlotte rempfer says:

    Amazing photos…especially Jim in his new shirt. 31 years ago today our Dane was born and I wonder what anything in this world really means. No matter what we believe, life boils down to being engaged and making the most of being alive in the moment. For as long as we are able….love always…C

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