This week I had the opportunity to encourage a group of complete strangers to move mountains. It comes from an African proverb: when sleeping woman wakes, mountains move. How very appropriate considering our backdrop was Mount Elgon, one of the largest peaks on the continent (and absolutely breathtaking).
Visiting an African country has always been a dream of mine. However, I usually imagined it as an animal-viewing safari kind of adventure; never could I have envisioned the powerful and utterly human moments I’ve experienced in the last few days. And yet here I am in Uganda, with women and children calling me a sister and an auntie — we’ve only just met and I’m already welcomed as a part of their family. It seems like an understatement to say the feeling is mutual.
Ever since joining The Greater Contribution a few years ago, I’ve wanted to meet the women who receive our loans. It’s important to me to share their stories and let others know how great of an impact a small loan can make. From making necklaces out of magazines (which I wear all the time!) to selling beans to opening a salon, the lowest common denominator is having a small amount of capital to realize their vision. Now they can send their children to school consistently, take care of basic medical needs, buy a pig or goat to supplement their income (or their nutrition), and ultimately fight against an unfair lot in life that was handed to them. I think one of the things that gets me the most is how random this all seems – what if I was the one born here? I can’t seem to shake that thought.
Since I’ve been here, I’ve experienced two major events in two very different villages: the repayment day that marks the end of a 6-month loan cycle, and the loan distribution to two brand new groups of natural entrepreneurs. For those who have repaid their loans, they will be eligible for a second loan to continue to grow their business. And for the new groups of loan borrowers, they have been equipped with training and support to set them up for success. Both events signify growth and change, empowerment, and pride. They are celebrations of the human spirit and I couldn’t be more touched by these women who call me their sister.
Move mountains, we said. And they will.
From Mbale, Uganda,
TGC Board Member