As our Party to Safari Contest winner, Karen Maxey won a trip to Uganda to visit our offices, see Friendship Village and to go on a safari. After her trip, I caught up with her to speak about what she saw and experienced. I was inspired by her reactions and thoughts about Uganda and the members with whom we work. Hopefully, her experiences will inspire you too.
“Uganda is an amazing place. I agree with Winston Churchill who said, “for magnificence, for variety of forms and colors, for profusion of brilliant life plant, bird, insect, reptiles, beasts, for vast scale…Uganda is truly the Pearl of Africa.” I was totally enveloped by the beauty of the country, and the strength, resilience, and stories of the hard working women who live there. I could never pick just one favorite part of Uganda. I loved the Beadforlife office, Friendship Village, and the M-lisada orphanage. At the Beadforlife office I attempted, and failed, at bead rolling and attaching hang tags. Happily, I redeemed myself in the bundling department! The skill it takes to make this jewelry is mindboggling. Yet the Beadforlife beaders make it look effortless!
I loved the sense of community at Friendship Village, and found it to be such a lovely, peaceful place. I was inspired by the generosity of the women, their ability to take in orphaned children without compensation. How they praised God with long, eloquent prayers for everything, including the American women who purchase their jewelry. The saddest moment happened here when I met Doreen, a sixteen year old who lived in my host’s home. She made my daughter and me a beaded purse. As she handed them to me she said, “I am sending this with all the love in my heart, because it is the only piece of me that will ever leave Uganda.” We were both sad because we knew it was true.
M-Lisada orphange was another amazing place to visit. It was founded by Bosco, a former twenty-nine year old street child who houses orphans that have nowhere else to go. Not only does he give them food and shelter, but he also helps them to develop their talents. Whether it was playing an instrument, acrobats, dancing or fashion, each child confidently shared their talents with us. Each child was full of appreciation for a man who knew exactly how they all felt.
Uganda has changed me. I am determined never to complain about my life again. I have no struggles compared to the Ugandan women. After talking to many of them, I realize they want what we all want. Peace, enough food for their families, health, safety, and hope for the future. Yet when the morning comes, there is no food in the pantry or refrigerator; there is no running water for a shower, or electricity for cooking.It’s just another day, but they tackle it because they are resourceful, have an unbelievable work ethic, gratitude for life, and a patient, hopeful spirit as they wait for something better. I was inspired by how much the women love Beadforlife and everyone involved. The beautiful jewelry now has faces and stories attached to it, and these stories need to be told. I will work hard to make sure their stories are told, I will be their voice!