I have been educated on how to stay with people.

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In Acholi quarter, Kireka, there’s a rather exceptional woman named Akullu Margret. With a stunning smile she tells me she has always considered herself to be a lucky woman. She never went to school but, living with Women of Meeting Point International (MPI), she was being educated on how to stay with people, neighbours and even to do business.  She considers herself lucky ever since she met MPI, she has also started a business selling charcoal (used for cooking food) which enables her to earn a living.

As she carrying on with her daily work, she noticed one thing in particular; during the day she met a lot of men, women, and children who were at home who seemed to be doing nothing.

She joined MPI in 1999 after facing a lot of problems which had not only made her feel like an animal but also unable to live with people because she was always fearful. She remembers standing outside MPI watching the women gathering, then Rose (Director MPI) invited her in, she entered and felt welcomed for the first time ever.

IMG_195011Margret: “I saw a white man sitting beside Rose, he had this smiling face, he took a photo of me with my child. When he returned to Italy, he framed it and sent it back to me, through Aunt Rose. We then started a friendship and a few years later, he started supporting me and my family”.

MPI started taking her children to school while she, on the other, hand started thinking of ways of supplementing her husband’s income from his job in the stone quarry. The moment Margret realized her infinite value, this introduced an openness in her. It was then that she started desiring to pay for her children’s requirements and to start a Charcoal business. She used the profit to buy a small plot of land to build a house.

She is now a mother to 12 children, of which six are her own and the other six orphans, all sponsored by MPI. She is able to pay for her children’s requirements and has also opened a shop for the husband to work in.

By Lumanyika Bright

 

She emerged as the best student at Luigi Giussani High School

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It was late evening when Priscilla had finished her work. She works as a cleaner at the Luigi Giussani Institute for Higher Education to support her siblings since she is the head of her family (though still so young). I have known Priscilla since she was 11 and started being supported by Meeting Point International (MPI) and this year, she scored 17/20 points in the Uganda National Examination Board (UNEB) emerging as the best student at the Luigi Giussani High School (LGHS). I desired to ask her what she is living and what made her study so hard despite all that she went through.

“We were raised by a single mother because our father had passed on when I was three years old. I hardly knew him, but I knew that he loved us. I remember after the burial, we moved to Naguru(Kampala). We are four in the family, and I am the second born. It wasn’t easy for my mother as she tried always to take care of us, both at school and home with all what we desired.

We later moved to a place called Mbuya (Kampala District), where my mother had married another man, the father to my younger sister. Unfortunately, he also passed on before she was born (by then I was 11 years old). Later on, my mother had heard about MPI and she started meeting with the Women in Kireka. My mother continued paying my school fees from her little income she managed to earn with the small bar she was managing, even if sometimes we had difficulties in getting money for feeding.

I was in a government school, we were over 200 children in a class. I could perform but I could be 100th position in the class.  This had made me hate school. Only when we joined St MatiaMulumba Primary School I met new friends and teachers and this made me love school once again and motivated me to work hard and my performance started improving. The school environment was nice, and everything was new, from the subjects to the teachers. I started reading and consulting teachers and as time went on, I was improving. I never stopped working hard because I knew that my mother didn’t go to school and she would have been happy if I had finished my studies.

It was a Thursday, the first week at the beginning of senior four, while at school I received a call from the Hospital; my mother was admitted because of cancer. I rushed to the hospital, I was stillin the school uniform. With tears in her eyes, my mother asked the reason to why I was there. I couldn’t leave her all alone because she was the most important thing for me in that moment.

It was on Friday when my mother was released from the hospital; maybe the doctors had already known that she was going to pass on. She seemed so different from the state that she was at the hospital, it was as if she had not suffered from any disease and when our neighbours brought us food, drinks she could eat without problems. That evening she was so happy as if nothing had happened.

The same night, I slept in the same room, but her conditions worsened and I started praying for her because she could not speak. I woke up in the morning and I was preparing something to eat for her. When I went to check on her, she was dead.

After the burial, I had to go back to school. I started copying notes, reading books but the thoughts of my mother were in my mind. The teachers, since they had known my situation, started giving me all the attention that I needed to study. Our economic situation worsened and because we couldn’t find money and also the feeding wasn’t so easy. In order to get food to eat, we were also helped by another organization. When I came back from school, I would cook for my siblings.

I could do some small works after school or during holidays to collect money to pay for the school requirements. My English teacher paid for my school uniform. My brother started skipping school in order to provide food for our siblings.  I could study only at school because at home I would go back and cook for my siblings. I must thank all the friends and the teachers that dedicated time to me. I was surprised to see that I got 17 points making me the best in school.

This year Achan Priscilla is joining the University to study English literature because she wants to become an English teacher. 

By Lumanyika Bright.

I felt introduced to the new family. Dear Bright

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Dear Bright,

I thought I’d write to you to tell you how everything is going on both at School and in my life. I was born on 15th November 1992 in Kitgum district in the Northern part of Uganda. I am currently living in Naguru (Kampala) with my uncle who had invited me to stay with him and his family because of the insurgency that happened in northern Uganda. In the course of the civil war my parents died. As result, I had been confined in the camp, where I had been studying and I was in primary three when my uncle brought me to Kampala.

I hardly knew my uncle and his family when I came to live with Him. I returned to school in Kampala and immediately I was demoted to the previous class (cause my level of preparation was too low for P4) and this affected me but couldn’t abandon school because I loved studies and with time I got acquainted with the environment, I made new friends and I became happy.

It was in 2009, and the same year I was introduced to Meeting Point International by my auntywho had been a client of MPI for a long period of time. Fortunately, I started to receiving support and school became more interesting since my fees were paid and I didn’t have to struggle again to look for money to pay for myself.

This is one of the great things that have happened in my life, because I never thought that I could be so lucky to complete my studies that I enjoyed so much. I finished my primary in 2011 and in 2012 I joined Luigi Giussani High School. When I was introduced to the school, I felt introduced to the new family because it felt like home. I perceived a strong sense of belonging and it was beautiful. While in school, I started attending the School of Community (It is a place where people from different back grounds meet to be educated of who they are in relation with their experiences in life) that made me aware of the relationship between me and Christ. This made me realize that everything that happened in my life had a value. This changed my life and it is still changing me.

1495534617_tmp_IMG_1488If I remember correctly, everything seemed like a dream but it was reality. While recognizing this, I was moved and I started asking myself, “Why me? Who am I?” I thought that God must love me so much, also because I realized that among all my siblings I was the only one chosen to take this journey. It is like a journey, while you walk the future becomes brighter and brighter every day.

I have been very committed to my studied and I completed my ordinary level of studies in 2015. The following year, I thought of joining a vocational institution so that I could attend the course I wanted. Aunt Rose [Director MPI] supported my decision and accepted to be paying my tuition, currently, I am pursuing a two-year certificate in Welding and Metal Fabrication at COWA Vocation Training Centre. I have achieved some skills and knowledge that will help me and by the time I will complete my course, I will not lack what to do.

My special thanks go to Rose and the all Meeting Point International that has taken part in my educational life.

Written by

Odong David Lakuc

Lumanyika Bright (Social Worker & Communication MPI)

25.5.2017

‘While many were fleeing, we stayed’

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‘While many were fleeing, we stayed’

During the outbreak of war in 1986, many people fled Gulu in Northern Uganda because of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The news about the rebels began like a rumor, so few people were skeptical about the rebels because they couldn’t believe it was true and those who believed wouldn’t think that the war would pass by their villages.

We heard women were being raped, robbed and people’s mouths were being cut off, young ones were being taken to fight for the rebels. Confusion started in our village too, people started fleeing the village, one by one until when the entire village was empty. We started hearing weirdsound of screams in the nearby villages, my mother and sister were too scared so fled with people but my father and I remained because my father was sure the rebels wouldn’t reach our village.

Like any other morning when my father and I were sited under a mango tree, we heard some voices of people approaching, we run in the house but it was too late since they had already seen us. They pulled both of us outside and they beheaded him.

Witnessing what had happened, I was told to sit down and they put my father’s head in my arms, I began trembling in fear of being raped or killed. They entered the house, robbed us and left me alone sitted with my father’s head.

I neither remember the day nor the time when I suddenly heard voices. A huge crowd was approaching; I thought to myself “are the rebels coming back?” I had not eaten and drunk in a long time. After witnessing my father’s death, I couldn’t see anything. In a dizzy way, I saw a woman lifting my father’s head from my arms, screaming and people were surrounding us.

When the war had been pushed too far from my village, my mother heard of a job in town, which required only girls to work as housemaids; I was given a job and it was during my stay in town that I met a man whom later I began to stay with. He was moved to western Uganda, a place called Kasese, where we lived for two years. It was there where I got my first pregnancy and gave birth to a healthy child. We decided to take the baby to my village for my mother to seehim.

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Oola Rose’s Home

Upon my arrival, I found out that my mother had died one month earlier, I busted into tears, and I hoped that she could had seen my child. I found my sister bedridden with HIV/AIDS, laying half-dead. I told myself, “Maybe if I had stayed home, nothing would have happened.”

When my sister died, we decided to return to Kasese. In 2002, we moved to Kampala and by then we had four children; my husband was working as a Boda Boda motorcyclist (carrying people on a motorcycle for a pay). The income wasn’t enough, so I tried all kinds of jobs but failed, and I became miserable, began working in stone quarries. Until one day when I passed by Meeting Point International, seeing very happy women sitting, making beads. I began admiring to be like them. Since some of them knew me from the quarry they invited me to stay with themat Meeting Point International (MPI), with the other women, with the promise that I would be happy.

When I joined MPI, my four children began attending school with the help of Aunt Rose – executive director. I began to feel at peace with myself so I continued working in the stone quarry happily.

After having seen what Meeting Point International was doing in educating me about my value , I discovered the value of my children, as a parent, I desired to participate in my children’s education by giving a small saving box to the school were my children are attending since it was very difficult for me to save at home. So that every morning, I could give my children the little I get from quarry to put in that box. In this way I can contribute to my children’s education. I started by giving at least 1000shillings.

 Rose, 37 Years Old (MPI Women )

by Lumanyika Jude

04.04.2017

THE STORY OF LALAM FLORENCE 60 YEAR OLD WOMAN 

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LALAM FLORENCE standing at her two room House

For 25 years a widow, at the time when Lalam’s husband died, she was pregnant with her second child. That tragic experience not only brought sorrow but Left Lalam a single mother. She had to look for work in order to meet all the basic needs of her two beautiful daughters despite the fact that she had just lost her husband.
Lalam was born in the northern part of Uganda but due to war which lasted for over 20years, Lalam and her husband had to move and seek shelter elsewhere and in this case they ended up in a place called Naguru Kasenke that recently has become a suburb of Kampala where she lives up to now with her two lovely daughters.
Lalam after the death of her husband realized that it was because of HIV/AIDs she had lost her husband; another heartbreaking experience that made her living a life of uncertainty. When the symptoms began to show on her body, she went for testing where the doctors confirmed that she was positive and broke into tears.
She was 36 years old when she heard about Meeting Point International, and the possibility to be welcomed. Then she went and joined the women, dancing, but she was still uncertain of the place asking herself “what is the meaning of going to dance when at home there is no food?” It was the same year 1992 and she started creating time every day, until when she met Rose, who put her on treatment and supported her children in order to join the school
For 25 years she has been in Meeting Point International in Naguru. In 2014, Meeting Point International started financial literacy training through score (to put all the sentence of score) project and women were encouraged to save the little money they earn. Lalam started to save in NEN ANYIM WOMEN’s Group. In the same year 2014, with these first savings, she managed to rise the wall fence and start the foundation of her two-room house, in her owned small plot of Land that she had failed to develop for lack of money till that moment.
She is now a 60 years old woman still living with her children who are in their 20’s, and her fellow women have nicknamed her “the chairperson of Meeting Point International”.

KAMPALA, MARCH 2017