Mutima Outreach, Uganda
For the past 18 months I have been involved with a project in Entebbe, Uganda. I first heard about it through the shared experiences of Yvonne and Johanna Trigg in 2018. As I listened to their stories, I realised more and more that my emotions were becoming quite physical. There was a fire burning within me telling me this was something I could do.
I asked God that if this was what he wanted me to do, then he must please open doors for me. I prayed the same prayer for about 2 weeks without any feeling or conviction. It was at this point that I decided to change my prayer. I decided to step out in faith and commence planning my trip to Entebbe through International Volunteering HQ. I asked God that if this was not what he wanted for me, then he must "close all doors”.
All my plans ran like clockwork. There was my confirmation! I signed up for Women’s Empowerment. I had no idea what I would be doing, but thought, "Well, I can cook, I have an allotment, I can sew and I can take an electric sewing machine out with me." I was truly in Gods hands.
Mutima Outreach is totally reliant on donations and volunteers who visit women in the neighbourhood affected by HIV/Aids . The aim is to provide food packages, help with health and medication, and to aid awareness of sanitation. They are also invited to Mutima, which is a kind of drop-in on the grounds of Victors Church. Here they meet to learn different skills i.e. sewing, basket-making, cooking, juicing, and participating in the kitchen garden project.
So my first trip involved working alongside Nicole, teaching the ladies how to sew and use a sewing machine . My machine was a great asset as they only had one very old treadle machine that actually worked. The plan was to set them up with their own sewing business which they would then manage themselves. This has now been achieved. They are producing, and selling, their scrunchies globally, which can be ordered through a website set up by Nicole https://www.prakasaco.com.
For the last week of my 3-week stay I organised a garden project for them in the church grounds , where harvesting would not only provide for them, but could also create an income through selling to neighbouring stalls and small businesses. In this same week another volunteer arrived from the UK, Fiona, who travelled out to teach business skills for women wanting to start up their own projects.
Although much was achieved on this trip I didn’t feel this was my only reason for visiting. Deep down I was being pulled towards doing more out in the field. God was guiding me to outreach and, of course, this is a never-ending need. I had been right: this was absolutely where God wanted me to be, which was confirmed on my second visit while working further alongside Pastor Lilian and being hosted by her and her family.
As it turned out, the only other volunteer on the WE project was Nicole from Canada - a professional tailor. Coincidence?? No, of course not! And this was the beginning of the Scrunchie Sewing Business.
We were placed at Victors Church with Pastor Lilian in Entebbe. In 2013 Pastor Lilian established a project named Mutima Outreach, after a prominent member of her church - Miss Nakato Rose - died of HIV/Aids leaving her children to fend for themselves. This really touched Lilian and she felt she needed to do something to help other women in the same situation.
The fundraising for my 2nd trip was achieved by collecting anything saleable: household goods, toys, clothing, bric a brac, etc. My church (Hayling Island Baptist), friends, and family really got behind me with this to the point that I ran out of space very quickly! So through boot sales, garage sales, and coffee mornings enough money was raised for me to stay for 2 months on my next trip.
My return to Entebbe in Jan/Feb 2020 was actually more than I had expected. Staying with my young Ugandan family (Pastor Lilian, George, and Princes Patrick and Preston) was a joy and an education. I learned so much about their culture, their faith, their diet; but I also learned more about myself. I fitted in with this life like it was always meant to be.
Lilian took me under her wing spiritually and I accompanied her on visits to hospitals and homes where she had been asked for prayer. She is such a calming person and I learned from her the protocol of how to approach situations. My part, of course, was largely financial, which I am pleased to say I was able to help with time and time again. We did outreach visits normally twice a week, handing out food packages and soap but there were also women I helped with rent arrears and repairs to their homes. Some were helped by giving them capital to boost their businesses while others required help with healthcare and medication.
Every Thursday morning we would meet at Victors Church to travel in the back of a builders truck to Prayer Mountain. Lilian chose Thursday as she knows that is the day I meet up with the ladies of BREAD for Bible study in England; but I have to say the meetings of prayer and reading on Prayer Mountain are far lengthier. People from all over the world visit this sacred site and I can understand why. The landscape is really calming but the pilgrims are very vocal, intense, and animated. If I’m honest, my own prayers seemed extremely conservative by comparison. Our single file safari would climb the countless bricked steps and make our way to the wooded area to make camp for our 4-5 hours of praise and worship, prayer and intersession. I loved it!
My largest project started last year: a house-build for a young lady and her twin daughters. I met this lady on my first outreach visit and as she shared her harrowing story she showed no emotion at aIl. I felt her heart and soul were dying. The conviction to help this lady was immediate and very clear: to move her from her dwelling in the fishing village, build her a new house, and get her out from working the quarry. All was achieved this year, and she is now a regular member of Mutima and Victors Church, and assists the outreach programme .
I am regularly in touch with Pastor Lilian, especially now in the current global situation with Covid-19. As soon as I saw the wave of infection spreading I advised them to buy provisions on a large scale and distribute to their Mutima women because lockdown would follow. Now they too are in lockdown and under curfew between 7.00pm-6.30am. Food is still available and Pastor Lilian and George did get supplies and some cash out to the women, but this will only last them another 2-3 weeks and it is not safe for them to continue to do this without any protective clothing. My concerns grow for them daily as infections are increasing rapidly.
Please pray for their protection and provision. These women are extremely vulnerable under normal conditions but this situation puts extra pressure on them as they do not have the same resources and services that we have. With the current closure of Victors Church and the sewing business they will have no income at all. The cash handed out by Pastor Lilian will probably feed them for another 2-3 weeks but by then they will be in arrears with their rent. Food will always take priority.