202016 Journal, Uganda
TMP is economic development through the church, which is what this journal is about:
9/11SUNDAY. After worship at First Presbyterian Church (FPC) in Kampala, the two women from The Church in Winchester, Winchester, VA, Lisa Croasdale and Donna Hughes, and I went to Pastor Patrick and Vickie Bukenya’s for lunch. Patrick walked us through their under-construction rental structure of 4 units. A loan application from them to put on the roof is in the works.
9/12Monday. Patrick led us on a walking visit to a number of women who meet at FPC in three savings groups. They live and work in a nearby slum community. The interviews were heart-wrenching and emotionally draining. Eleven women graciously received us, heard our prayers and Scripture, and thanked us for visiting. We heard about their self-support efforts, family, history, struggles, blessings and participation in the Church. Lisa had not seen such poverty last year; as a first timer, Donna was stunned: “My eyes are opened.” Patrick is doing a good service with these folks via the Five Loaves program.
9/13Tuesday. We documented food costs for Five Loaves at a Kampala market by talking to merchants. Patrick introduced us as a research group from America to take home a report on food costs. Vendors were cordial while serving customers and answering our questions. Our survey covered farm products but not meats. The poor hardly ever buy meats and often average only one meal a day of vegetables and grains. We walked back to the church and opted to forego lunch. In retrospect, why should we eat when they don’t? We had already consumed a generous breakfast!
In the afternoon about 45 women from three savings groups agreed to meet with us. We met under a tree on the grounds of FPC. These are community people, some Christian, from the slums with tiny, tiny enterprises like the ones we visited yesterday. We asked how the savings groups are so successful. Each group makes its own rules; they abide by them; follow strong leadership; they lend tiny amounts to members that the others vote to approve; they have to repay and they do. The plan works really well, but to save out of meagre income when they struggle to eat enough, pay rent and school fees is tough. Their leader said, “It is hard to come up with money to save, but it is satisfying to save it because it benefits us so much.”
9/14 Wednesday. We visited two TMP loan recipients, a different world. Frank and Norah have 220 pullets. When he built the house for his family two years ago, the integrated garage housed 200 chickens. Other parts of the house stored food sacks, etc., and got a lot of dust! The eggs were sold and then the chickens themselves. The profit allowed construction of a chicken house twice size of the garage, where there now are 220 birds with more room. The plan is to repeat the process with egg production and bird sales, then build another chicken house and double the production, and so on.
Mrs. Lawanga, another TMP recipient, has 6 rented apartments, separate land for food production, a small store for the neighbors, and 12 young goats. Her chicken project failed. Now with 4 revenue streams, Eccl 11:6 is demonstrated: “Sow your seeds in the morning and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will succeed.” TMP has been involved with this widow for 12 years. She is a faithful testimony to family, neighborhood and Church, and she is one of our better successes in micro-loans and therefore a leader.
9/15 Thursday. Richard and Dorothy Ndugga. Loan recipient Richard helped us complete our food research from their small store. He also explained how the warfare in South Sudan has negatively impacted his downtown flour business inasmuch as the border at the North was closed to commercial traffic. Richard had sold to S. Sudan buyers. He nonetheless has made his loan payments on schedule. This couple has three things: a nursery school, a tiny store & the flour outlet.
FPC borrowed from TMP in 2013 to prepare a wedding and celebration area on the green behind the church facility, which gives exposure for the church to people and their guests who use the facility. At a meeting with the deacons today we agreed to a payment formula for the future. We also discussed a grant idea for the destitute but capable poor to help them get up to the point of qualifying for a loan.
9/16 Friday. On Emmanuel Kasaija’s property the family focuses its farming efforts. All are impressive. Considering what can be done on small plots, all is being done: Metoke, Ginger, Elephant Grass, Peanuts, Kasava. They are doing a lot to improve the land. The figures indicate a potential high profit per acre. As reported last year, this is another second generation benefit from a TMP loan early last decade, “repaid” many times over.
9/18 SUNDAY. Edward gave Lisa and Donna options for today since the previous days were so exhausting and no day of rest had come yet. Donna chose to stay home and rest to recover from a cold; Lisa attended FPC which is close. Ed and I left at 7 for Namangua Calvary Presbyterian Church. The service started at 9:30 and ended after 1, and then a church meal. Ed and I both spoke.
9/19 Monday. A business conference day at the church at Nkokonjeru (“White Chicken”), 1.5 hours to the East. I led the teaching and Edward expanded on my points on Business that is Faith-Based, Church-Based and Family-Based. Our women met with their women and we men met with their men. In our group we discussed challenges to leadership and in their group they discussed women’s issues. Lisa and Donna said they got in “over their heads” as they were asked questions they could not comfortably handle. But from what they described, Ed thought they did very well.
9/20-21 Tuesday and Wednesday. We visited loan applicants and one loan recipient at Namaseke, a tiny village on top of a hill, and then Nkokonjeru and Nmongua Towns, including two “mixed” farmers (i.e. crops and animals), two store-keepers, a tiny restaurant operation, a private school (Rock of Ages Day and Boarding), a chicken business and an apartment rental business. Women head most of these businesses. All of those we met are dedicated in Christ, active in church, and have attended our seminars on business and stewardship. Loan applicants John and Delores Kame for fertilizer and insecticide ($150)
9/22 Thursday. The road to Mpunge, is a drive-down over major rocks, a sort of stepping stone descent to the end of a peninsula of Lake Victoria where the village is situated.
The children of Mpunge Covenant Junior School greeted us with songs of welcome and two of us spoke to thank them. We walked over the school grounds to be updated on improvements. A TMP piggery is there and the replaced water tank at the hill-top that the solar-powered sump-pump keeps filled. The village is responsible for the water system upkeep but it could not come up with the money to replace the old tank that split (poor quality tank, we think). It would have been our loss not to replace the old, and our gain to do it, so we paid and got it done, with Edward’s supervision several months ago. Thus the school and our pigs are supplied with fresh water in abundance.
At Ntenjeru our stop was to see another repaired and protected well and the piggery. Churches and Villages United paid to repair the well, and we to build its concrete and steel fence protection with a pad-locked door. The well failure had adversely affected the local church-school, the community and the piggery. The long dry season aggravated the well problem. With rains now, four acres of corn is being planted nearby that will assist the school and the animals if all goes well. Please pray about these things. The piggeries are demonstration centers to gather farmers to teach animal husbandry and lend mature females that are close to giving birth. Not much of this has happened due to set-backs such as swine flu, drought, and well failures. What we have learned must pay off.
9/24 Saturday. It was TMP policy-documents day for me while Lisa and Donna prepared to leave for the US. We said our good-byes. Then our adopted son Joseph picked me up for an evening with his family. He came on a boda-boda (motor bike) with another driver on one for me. Despite the danger of these things, I like them. We rode to Masaka Road where we changed to a 14 passenger taxi that packed in 16 of us. Down to the Northern By-Pass roundabout we switched to another taxi to go to the Hoima Road roundabout, changed to a third over stuffed taxi and chugged up the hill to Nasaana, where Joseph lives. Walked half a mile to HippoZ, a hotel/restaurant. There Joseph’s wife Winnie and their three children met us. We had a feast and a blast. This family had NEVER had such a time, including excellent fish and chicken dinners. Edward, coming back from the airport, picked me up.
9/26, 27 Monday and Tuesday. Patrick, Ed and I traveled to Hotel Nile at Jinja for a two days on 16 leadership propositions as they pertain to TMP and Five Loaves. We also considered loan applications and approved 15 of them from members of the churches we visited. Most very small, less than $200, a surprise to us.
Loan recipient ($600) Andrew Ssentongo added a solar dimension to his electronics supply store.
We also suggested 8 small grants of $50 to $100 from Five Loaves to individuals who show aptitude for business but do not have enough going for a loan to be repaid; their efforts are so small and their risk factor so high that a TMP loan would be a burden they could not carry. A grant will help them start or increase their level of business to a place of consistent productivity. If that works they can “graduate” to our TMP loan program that can boost a successful enterprise several times to the point of self-sustainment. Business to the glory of God by giving back to help others is the goal. (Eph 4:28)
Summary. Lisa Croasdale worked with Edward, Patrick and me last year. She added perspective and personal influence to our efforts, and this year did the same. Donna Hughes took to the children and student interests and led in the development of an improved Educational Assistance application policy. They demonstrated what other visitors with me have also done; they have gone to Uganda and observed; their gifts come out and they serve the interests of Christ. They go home richer in Him. They appreciate the Church of another culture and it gives them a new perspective on our own.
Edward, Patrick and I: our agreements are tops; our fellowship in Christ most encouraging and our goals seem good and attainable. We came away having refined our understanding of the 16 topics on policy and procedure. Our unity in this ministry could hardly be higher. Our weakest link seems to me to be the piggeries, but Edward is not deterred in moving ahead with them, for he has seen too much success on his own and considers our TMP set-backs as purposive and not all that serious. My problem is I tend toward western quick-fixing; Ugandans tend to be perseverers. Our monetary loan program has had no failure since 2012. We have learned much. “To God be the glory forever. Amen.”
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