Today I travelled to the village of Lwaboba, half an hour outside of the city of Mbale in Eastern Uganda. I was invited to visit a group of ladies who live in this tiny village and who have formed a self-help organization, The Women’s Hunger Eradication Project, to contribute small bits of money to a common savings account to help their members with school fees for their children or as one member of the group told me “to try to get something out of the little we have.” I am continually inspired by the drive of the Ugandan women to do more with their lives despite the enormous, daily struggles they face for the ordinary, basic necessities of living. But these ladies would like to do more. Most of the group members would like to start a small business or already operate a small business of some kind but are barely making enough to feed themselves and their families. They know that a micro loan could dramatically improve their businesses, their incomes and their futures.
They were all excited that we might bring a micro loan program to their village and also apprehensive. They had all heard of other women who had bad experiences with other loan groups (i.e., loan sharks) and had a lot of concerns. I described the loan program and answered all their questions and then met with the leadership of the group, three very accomplished, intelligent and capable women with the important skills needed to lead a micro loan program.
Many in the group told me they had lost hope of ever getting out of poverty. It is a real honor and exciting to be able to turn their hopes into reality. We will fund loans for these ladies. Isn’t it great that ordinary people like you and I can do something so extraordinary? Let me introduce you to the next TGC loan group.
I headed back to my hotel in Mbale driving through heavy rain. I have never been here in the rainy season before and it is as heavy and torrential as I’d been told! Tomorrow, I head to yet another tiny village to talk with women who are asking for our help.