Reflections From East Africa

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By: Betty Sparrow Doris
​Bob and I have traveled fairly extensively since I retired some years ago. We have enjoyed several different countries in five of the seven continents seeing both vast poverty in developing countries, struggles of many in Europe as economies decline due to major geopolitical twists and turns. Of course we have also been blessed as tourists to experience the more affluent parts of communities around the world. However, I would never have imagined the experience that we had while traveling to East Africa as a part of the Africa Development Promise Cultural Exchange trip in March of this year.  Perhaps I was not as prepared as I thought, as I observed the stark differences in Uganda living conditions between the indigenous people of Uganda and immigrants to the country. Yet there was a national pride in the Uganda people. There is such natural beauty in the land both in Uganda and Rwanda. The rich red soil and the lush, beautiful trees, flowers and plants & vast bodies of water tantalize the eye and other senses; as well as music and singing everywhere. But nothing was more humbling than the beautiful, smiling joyful faces of the people as they greeted and welcomed us.  There was such joy that spilled over the women that we met as they beamed with pleasure while telling us about the work that they are doing. We learned of the many improvements to their processes (though still very laborious) with the help received from Africa Development Promise. As I sat on the fourth floor deck of the hotel where we stayed in Kampala, there was constant, bustling activity below in the community surrounding the hotel; men and women working, children playing, goats, chickens, rabbits and dogs running to and fro, and always laughter.

Although there seemed to be a need for people to walk with a quickened pace and determination; there was no lack of warmth as they greeted each other, with in the present joyfulness. I was also struck by the way the people carried themselves…their clothes did not show material wealth, but their appearance clearly showed a wealth of pride and joy. Most of the women wore dresses, and skirts, very few women wore slacks or pants. I did not see any of the women wearing shorts. Everybody was pressed and fresh!  There was genuine warmth when we were welcomed to a grow house of one of the mushroom farm cooperatives located in a rural community outside of Kampala. I also observed a serious attitude in the women at the cooperative as they introduced themselves, shared the history of the cooperative, and explained the process of their work. They were gleeful while expressing heartfelt sincerity, their appreciation for all that they had learned and gained through training, and assistance provided by Africa Development Promise and “Mrs. Moni’ca”. As I listened to the women share their hopes and dreams while enduring hardship, setbacks and financial challenges, I was reminded of Nehemiah when he was rebuilding the wall in Jerusalem. His enemies tried everything to get him to come down from the wall; but his response was determined, clear and decisive. “I’m doing a great work and I can not come down”.  Africa Development Promise is doing a great work in Uganda and Rwanda! I will do as much as I can to support the work of Africa Development Promise, and hope I can return to see more of the outcomes of these cooperatives as the work continues to build and rebuild the economic lives of the people and their communities.                                                                                                                                                                                            -Betty Sparrow Doris

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