The woman makes money dragging rocks from the stone quarry
to sell by the side of the road.
It does not provide her with money for food or a place to sleep that is not made of mud.
It does not bring her pride or power.
She would like to eat two times a day.
She would like to sleep in a clean shelter and use a latrine that is not filthy.
She would like to bathe her children and herself.
She would like for her children to learn to read, as she never did.
We say to her, this is a good place for a business that is not selling stones.
This is a busy place where people wait in the hot sun
while their cars and trucks are washed
in the stream by the side of the road.
It is a good place for selling drinks and maybe nuts or chips.
It is a good place for a bench for resting on and an umbrella to protect one from the sun.
Maybe music from a radio.
It is a good place to start a living.
A slow smile emerges.
She can see the small kiosk from which she will sell cold drinks and snacks.
She knows a man who will make her benches for little money.
She can feel the shade of the colorful umbrella and hear the laughter of men waiting for their cars at the “washing bay.”
She can taste the food she will give her children at night and feel the safety of brick walls that will surround her through dark, Ugandan nights.
Such small things. A wooden bench. A place to store drinks and food. A bright umbrella.
I wrote the piece above following a meeting with the Entrepreneurial Department of BeadforLife concerning one of our member's efforts to start a viable business. As the photos below show so clearly, with a little capital and some basic business training, the women of BeadforLife combine hope with hard work to create a life of self-sufficiency for themselves and their children. They are a constant source of inspiration.
Just a brief update on life in Uganda.. The rainy season has come at last bringing beautiful afternoon showers and late-night downpours. Everything is green and blooming. My garden is a wild chaos of color, completely without theme or order. And Moses, the Luckiest Cat in Uganda, is a year old now; a year has passed since the grisly demise of his newborn siblings under the wheel of a truck. I learned something interesting about Moses a few months ago. It became apparent, in a painfully loud way, that Moses is actually a girl. A girl cat. Yes, I too was shocked and more than a little undone (I have no idea why) but I've adjusted to the idea and for the most part, have switched pronouns effortlessly. The name stays, however.