Guest Blog by Elizabeth Saleniuc
Over this past week and a half since arriving in Uganda, I have had the privilege of working with the women from the Women’s Project here at Lily’s Camp in the village of Bugira. The more I get to know these beautiful women the more admiration I have for them. They’re strong, resilient and full of spirit. Many of these women have never left their small village where they have been working in the fields from a young age. Their stories are full of hardships, poverty and broken relationships. Many have abusive and/or drunk husbands and have had their lives planned out for them, against their will, through arranged marriage at early ages or being second and third wives to one man. Never have I seen women working so hard to provide for their families. They bear the weight of bringing up their children and providing on their own. They want to better themselves, but the opportunities don’t normally exist.
Each day I get to witness the thankfulness and privilege they feel because they get to be in the Women’s Project. They work hard every day to learn English and then continue to learn a trade or skill that’ll help sustain and provide for their families. They are so motivated to learn and despite their difficult lives, they show up every day and smile, giggle, laugh and allow themselves to be silly. Most of these women didn’t get to have a “childhood”. From an early age you’re expected to be mini adults. You take care of your siblings, you must walk miles every day to find firewood, you must walk miles for water and so on. These women get to not only fulfill their own long forgotten dreams, but in doing so they can also learn that life can sometimes be great.
One of the things we do at the start of each day is serve them with tea and biscuits. Something that seems so basic but is very out of the norm for them. Seeing them enjoying fellowship together, being served and looking “smart” (meaning beautiful) in their best outfits, is very touching. I can’t change their entire lives, but I know that I can change this very moment by being present with them and planting seeds that’ll flourish. It’s been a blessing and joy to serve them thus far and I’m so excited to see what God has in store for them in the years to come.