Sent October 12, 2014: Lunch with participants in Betty’s Conversation
Noting that she is 53, Winnie explained that she was “slowing down a bit” from a hectic travel schedule required by her development work. She shared her “retirement plan:” Starting a Day Care School so that career women can know their children are getting good care. She sees this as potential income for herself as well. She has bought 3 blocks of land where she will grow food so that even if she has little income, she will have food to eat. And she sees that growing food to sell can also be a part of her income generation.
She works in community development, cross-cultural training and adult literacy, is Chair of the Mothers’ Union at her church and is mentoring three young women.
“I’m at the height of my career” she says. Like Winnie, she is involved in Community Development work. She’s worked in rural areas – in health issues, adult literacy, empowerment, and with savings groups – always with a focus on sustainability. She’s focused on teaching capacity-building skills – life skills, savings plans and business skills.
Currently she works with the Finnish Refugee Council – “Very hard work,” she says because the Refugees are constantly being shifted from one place to another. She also works to help church youth recognize their leadership potential.
“I’ve worked for the UN, helping to resettle people from the Sudan,” Stella says, “and have had to insist to my bosses the importance of helping these people understand the purpose of the resettlement.” I would describe Stella as a “warrior” leader. Good at math, her boss wanted her to work in accounting. Arguing with him that she did not like that work, they agreed to disagree for awhile, and finally, when he would not understand that higher pay was not primary for her, she resigned. She is now back at the UN working with expats, utilizing her social work skills. She also has taken on leadership work as an advisor in her church.
Stella’s baby was the center of attention at our lunch and the latest “woman leader” this group has brought into their circle.
The only girl in her village to go to the University, Jackie received her degree in social work and works in gender issues and health. She works with women’s savings groups in which many of the participants are illiterate. She explained that many people, especially the men, do not know “why they are saving.” She works with Betty in TEU, and gives much appreciation to Betty and Stella for helping her, inspiring and encouraging her to believe in herself.
As she described some scenarios from her work life, it was clear that Stella has developed courage to speak up and to stand up for herself. She described a situation in which her boss was stealing. When she reported it, an audit was done, and her records verified that her accusation was true. Another boss liked her work and wanting her to “just keep on working for him forever.” He was not interested in her career goals. Now an administrator in the High Court, she also describes with enthusiasm the mentoring group she started and her participation in the life of her church.
Betty spoke about our needing to acknowledge both “what we need to do” and what we “want to do.” From her own experience she has learned that we must honor the practical realities of our life as well as our vision and passion and learn to set goals and prioritize so that we can accomplish both. Working full time as a Communication Specialist at the Center for Disease Control, she also finds time to be a good mother, participate in learning opportunities – such as iLEAP, to participate in Developing Women’s Leadership ~ Around the Globe, and to found an NGO – Teen Empowerment Uganda.