AN ENCOUNTER THAT “DREAMS”

A group of junior high school students, after the summer vacation entitled “Friends for life”, arrives at the Meeting and meets Rose Busingye of Meeting Point International in Kampala. Here’s what they said,

“I don’t want to live in vain.” This passionate phrase of the young Fr Giussani was the provocation that accompanied the journey of the Knights (the Christian experience of middle school kids, ed) throughout this “strange” year spent in the pandemic. Distance learning, meetings via Zoom, attempts at face-to-face shooting, the Promise, holidays … A life never suspended, a proposal never interrupted: a true friendship.”Friends for life” was the title of the Knights’ holidays this year. Undoubtedly the modality is different, but the desire for research and discovery is irreducible: what is friendship, and who is the true friend? This is how we arrived at the Meeting. And on Monday 23, about 250, between children and adults, (plus an equal number connected through the AVSI Facebook channel) met Rose Busingye, who had already helped us with her testimony to live Easter. The songs, the waiting, the arrival of Rose and we begin. Don Marcello and Gloria (heads of the Knights) open the dialogue: “We saw the exhibition” You are a value “, where hundreds of Ugandan women in conditions of poverty, abandonment, illness, tell what has been generated in them and from them, blowing up a beauty that is greater than everything. We met some of them. But where does all this come from? ».«I can tell my story», Rose begins to reply: «I grew up because someone, Fr Giussani, hugged me and told me that my life is worthy. He told me: “You know Rose, even if you were the only human being on earth, God came the same, indeed God came for you, for love of you he went to the cross. He died and rose and will be with you every day until the end of the world”. This was a revolution: God who made heaven and earth came down for me ». And here Rose uses an expression that will recur several times during the meeting: “He” made me dizzy “”.A revolution. “How I thought about my life has changed, how I ate and drank has changed. That man looked at me as an infinite value. My job is, therefore, to shout to everyone that life has an infinite value, regardless of successes and failures ». “And the experience of the limit?” Urges Don Marcello. «The value does not depend on what we do» resumes Rose, «God came down from heaven to be with you every day so that nothing is lost. Fr Giussani said to me: “Go to the mirror, look at your round face and see that in that face there is an Other who is giving it to you now”. It is this Presence that saves the world. And when one is looked at in this way it becomes contagious ». This contagious presence that takes those women (the exhibition begins with the photos of women who have been mistreated, betrayed) who not only start living again, but ask for a school: “Because in this way our children can learn mathematics by discovering their own value”.Rose accepts the challenge and “Luigi Giussani High School” is born, which now has 600 boys, and “the school is like a wave: from women to children and from children to women. In a month we have seen the eyes of the boys change, like that little girl who had attempted suicide four times. She changed her mind about herself when a professor called her by name “.Alberto, eighth grade, can’t sit still and asks: «How did the kids react when they knew they could go to school and study? I ask because … in the common Italian imagination, not everyone has a great desire to go to school … “. Applause from the audience. “Our kids live in huts and don’t have cell phones. During the lockdown, our teachers prepared their homework on paper and went on a motorbike to the boys’ homes, looking for them one by one to give them their homework and then to return to pick them up. When there was the exam, our kids were the first, for this very reason: when you are loved, the brain cells multiply their work! Our kids want to go back to school because where they are loved ».The dialogue continues, the questions of children and adults follow one another: what does it mean to educate? What makes you even happy when a guy says no? How can joy coexist with so much pain? … “It is a problem of knowledge, knowing oneself is really a beautiful thing“. “But how can I find my worth?” finally asks Rebecca, another very young girl. “We all have value,” concludes Rose. «We just need someone who lets us know, who tells you about it, looking at you as an important, precious thing. And when you’ve met him, you can even jump the fire. “Stefano, Monza

31.08.2021

Source: Communion and Liberation

MPI at the Rimini Meeting 2021!

The Courage to Say “I”

20·25 august 2021 | 42nd edition | Fiera di Rimini

The title of the meeting is “The courage to say ‘I’.” It is a quote from the “Diary” by the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. In these difficult and troubled times, where there is an ongoing debate on the scientific, economic, social certainty and seemingly acquired lifestyles, we believe it is crucial to focus attention on the freedom of man and on his vocation to build a more humane world.

Many are experiencing the current situation as asphyxiating and suffocating: a growing sense of loss is affecting the entire world. The consistence of reality seems to struggle in a new wave of social decline, of economic and political uncertainty, which the pandemic has boosted: the way you relate with people, with the various activities and daily circumstances, is increasingly weakened. Apathy and boredom alternate with fear and anger and the zest for life seems destined to succumb.

The risks of a cultural and social homology relativizing the uniqueness of a person in the face of the challenges of life are visible to everyone.

But what specifically is this “I”? Is it an illusion? Is it a bundle of “different perceptions, which succeed each other with an inconceivable rapidity and are in a perpetual flux and movement” as the philosopher David Hume wrote? Or–as the Latin etymology of the word “persona” seems to suggest–a theatrical mask? Or is it an obstacle for whoever can perceive in it a factor of disturbance and destruction of the natural order of the world?

We have the sharing experience of relationship (foundational, generative, affective, with the other) as what allows the “I” to recognize itself, to be aware it exists and to search for a meaning for itself and for the world. And where does this “I” find the courage to move and to act, to expose itself, to prevent it from undergoing the circumstances of life and of this time of ours? And what kind of courage are we talking about?

And what is the relationship between the “I” and ourselves, between an individual and one’s community, between the person and society? Can the desire to live fully and to deepen our own relations still make the “I” of each one of us vibrate?

The ongoing appeals to follow new and more restrictive public health regulations are not enough to overcome anxiety and the lack of hope for the future. In order to face the pandemic and the many other challenges that life sets before us, society needs to wake up from the slumber and fear in which it has fallen back again months afterwards: the contribution of every individual, of every “I” that will be responsible, taking care of what is good for oneself and for the community as a whole.

In fact, we have discovered ourselves fragile, vulnerable, we have come to realize we need each other. This is why we believe we can start again only together, understanding the value and the significance (also of interdependence) of human relationships; this is why dialogue is the essential condition for any possible rebuilding.

At the meantime comes the need for something that continuously awakes that “I” we all have inside: It is the permanent dimension of education that we all need, to understand what is happening and to start living humanely. In fact, a crisis like the one we are going through is forcing our “I” to go back to the essential questions; if we want to start again, they mustn’t be censured.

This is why we wish to encounter the witness of people who, by not censuring their own “I”, don’t stop asking questions and who can communicate their experience and the way in which they face reality in the various areas where human life unfolds, in politics, scientific research, economics, education, art, healthcare, anywhere.

The Meeting offers itself to the world as a moment of encounter and confrontation for everybody, in an effort to better understand one’s self and the present situation, sharing that hope inside one’s heart, inside one’s eyes and inside one’s life, a life that is made more humane by the men and women involved, the people who have the courage to say “I”. Rimini Meeting 2021 poster 42nd edition.

A HEAD TEACHER’S PASSION

A school head teacher’s passion to reach learners with self-study materials is bringing hope and encouragement to the students in his school. #Mr#Michael Kawuki wants to ensure that his students don’t lose the rhythm of schooling.

He gets on his motorcycle by 7:00 am each day, with the carrier loaded with learning materials and a list of students and their home addresses ready to deliver their materials.

We asked Michael how he feels about COVID-19 and he said “Of course I am concerned about the pandemic; my students need to keep busy so that they know that we think about their future.” Michael does all this because he loves his profession – he calls it a vocation.

The past weeks have been busy for Michael as he coordinates his teachers to compile lessons for students and gets on his daily routine with the distribution journey so that he’ back home before the curfew. One thousand learners Luigi Giussani high school in Kampala are supported by AVSI in the Distance Support Program.

AVSI is proud of committed teachers like Michael and several others in the schools we support and elsewhere because we know that this is one of the ways we will continue to ensure #quality #education for learners. Meeting Point International

 

REINTRODUCING DIGNITY BACK INTO THE TEACHING PROFESSION IN UGANDA

Mauro Giacomazzi vividly remembers a time when he was observing an English class for the senior 1 students at the Luigi Giussani High School in Kampala, Uganda.

Gladys, a form 6 student at Luigi Giussani High School in Kampala, says the teaching methodologies of Luigi Giussani Institute of Higher Education changed her life

The students were struggling to understand the difference between common nouns and proper nouns for weeks, and so the teacher made the executive decision to take them outside and use nature as a teaching tool.

When they were all gathered outside, the teacher asked the students to identify common nouns that they could see.

“Their answers were ‘blackboard,’ ‘pen,’ ‘desk,’ paper’,” Giacomazzi said. But when asked again to identify these common nouns in nature, they could not do it.

For Giacomozzi, this is a prime example of how the Ugandan education system can fail students.

“They did not understand the concept. They just knew that if there were common nouns, this was the list of things to say,” he said. “And this has a number of implications on teaching…because primary school teachers are teaching to the exam.”

This problem of teachers teaching to the exam, rather than actually educating students, is found throughout Uganda. And Giacomozzi and his team at the Luigi Giussani Institute of Higher Education (LGIHE), are trying to address crucial educational deficiencies of quality, school management, accountability and teaching efficiency within Uganda’s context. Through their work with local schools, and their own Luigi Giussani High School, LGIHE had been working to create innovative pedagogies that advance how teachers in Uganda actually teach their students.

“In Uganda, the teachers have lost the dignity of their profession. When you talk to them, they tell you ‘I am not working, I am just teaching’,” Giacomazzi said. “This is because teaching in Uganda has become mere…transcription of information from the notebook of the teacher’s notebook to the blackboard, and from the blackboard to the notebook of the students. So if you reduce education to this, it is not a fulfilling job.”

By understanding that the teachers in Uganda need to rediscover the meaning of education and their role in it, LGIHE created the Reclaiming National Exams to Widen Achievements in Learning (RENEWAL) in Ugandan Secondary Schools.

This [Partnership-funded] project aims to change the Ugandan national education system because “we believe that with a different kind of examination, teachers will be compelled to introduce a deeper understanding. and higher thinking pedagogical process for the students to pass.”

The long-term project works with teachers and school leadership in about 15 schools, including their own High School, to build student-teacher relationships, to understand the development and maturity of students, and to create student-focused and student-led teaching methodologies.

Gladys, a senior 6 student at Luigi Giussani High School, says that these teaching methodologies have been life-changing for her. She joined the school six years ago, after attending a government school for her primary education.

“Initially, I had no goal in life. Now I want to be a teacher,” she said, having been inspired by her own teachers here at the brightly colored school. The place was built by over 2000 mothers from the Acholi Quarter in Kampala who did not believe the local schools were providing an adequate education for their children.

“In my previous school, the teachers looked at you like an animal or a commercial asset because you have to pay them,” she continued. “The moment you made a mistake, you were beaten. They didn’t take the initiative to correct you.”

It was the simplest things that affected Gladys, like her new teachers knowing her name or even asking her how she was doing. She said that these things made the biggest difference in helping her see her value in this world.

“Teaching is not only about what a teacher writes on the blackboard, but about wanting their students to understand the meaning of life,” she said. “This way the student can face the realities before them with an open heart and a curious mind.”

Helping Hearts Heal: Ugandan Nurse to Receive Ford Family Award

Author: Ashley Rowland

Rose Busingye during her meetings with the women

A Ugandan nurse who founded an organization for impoverished women and children with HIV/AIDS will receive the 2019 Ford Family Notre Dame Award for International Development and Solidarity this month at the University of Notre Dame.

Rose Busingye is president of Meeting Point International, a Kampala-based nongovernmental organization that provides medical care, schooling, and other services that help patients increase their self-sufficiency and develop social networks.

MPI’s mission emphasizes emotional as well as physical healing. In particular, Busingye focuses on helping patients recognize their inherent dignity and worth in a society where they are often shunned because of their medical diagnosis.

“Rose recognizes that she needs to treat the inside as well as the outside of the person,” said Rev. Robert Dowd, CSC, director of the Ford Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity. “She’s not a heart surgeon, but she helps heal hearts.”

Busingye will receive the award from the Ford Program, part of the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, on Sept. 12 at the Hesburgh Center auditorium. The ceremony will be followed by an armchair discussion with Busingye on “The Value of a Life: AIDS, Outcasts, and the Search for Dignity in Uganda,” hosted by Faculty Fellow Clemens Sedmak, a professor of social ethics at the Keough School of Global Affairs.

Rose, he said, “makes it a point to see a person as someone with something to give to the world. She makes sure that everybody understands that these women are amazing people and so much more than patients suffering from a chronic condition.”

The Ford Family award is given annually in recognition of substantial contributions to human development through research, practice, public service, or philanthropy.

According to Dowd, Busingye embodies the Ford Program’s research and teaching focus on integral human development, a holistic model of human flourishing rooted in Catholic social thought that emphasizes the importance of being connected to others.

“Rose is doing the kind of work that promotes integral human development and those of us seeking to do the same have much to learn from her efforts,” he added. “She accompanies women in ways that free them up and helps them to make the most of their God-given potential.”

Busingye, who is also a midwife, started in MPI in 1993 after meeting HIV-positive women in the slums of Kampala who refused to take antiretroviral medications that could slow the progress of their disease. They believed their lives were meaningless; Busingye sought to convince them otherwise by telling the women they were loved and by creating a de facto family for them within MPI.

She explained on MPI’s website the philosophy behind her work: “The greatest need of a human being is the need of belonging….MPI creates simple environments where each person can find it easier to belong and experience love.”

Today, MPI serves approximately 2,000 women and more than 1,000 children, offering services including counseling, health and hygiene courses, adult literacy classes, and microcredit loans. It also runs an orphanage and operates a bead-making enterprise that helps women earn money to support their families.

Dowd noted that many of the women assisted by MPI have experienced emotional or physical abuse, including rape. Some are from northern Uganda and were brutalized by the Lord’s Resistance Army, a guerilla movement that terrorized the region for more than 20 years starting in the mid-1980s.

Many of those women are ostracized not only because they are HIV positive because they are from the north and were forced by the LRA to serve as soldiers or sex slaves, he said.

Many of the women are angry, resentful, and lonely. One of Busingye’s strategies for helping them deal with their emotions is by simply listening to them: “By listening to them, she helps them to recognize that they are valued and that they have value,” he said.

Previous Ford Family award recipients have been well-known within the field of international development, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus, Acumen CEO Jacqueline Novogratz; and Partners in Health.

By comparison, Busingye’s efforts have received relatively little attention.

“In giving this award to her, we’re trying to raise the awareness of important work that often goes unrecognized,” Dowd said. “Some of the best work going on in the world is where it’s not being recognized, where there’s not a lot of PR for it, where it’s not being backed by millions of dollars, and we want to highlight that work.”

In addition to helping people reflect on the importance of listening, Dowd added that the Ford Program hopes giving the award to Busingye will spark new questions for future research within the Keough School and its constituent units.

The Ford Family award is named in honor of University Trustee Emeritus Doug Ford ’66 and his wife Kathy, whose generosity helped establish the Ford Program.

The award presentation will be held at 5 p.m. in the Hesburgh Center Auditorium. The event is open to the public and will be followed by a reception.

Source: Kellog Institute

UGANDA. IT’S NOT ENOUGH TO SAY, “A NICE COMPANIONSHIP”.

The new life of Gladys and her father; a lunch with Anifa, a Muslim, in the heart of the slum, the holiday with the university students, from the music of Arnold and Marvin to the fear of the spirits of Ochaka… The four-day story in and around Kampala.
Ignacio Carbajosa 

30.9.2019

I arrived in Kampala for the Clu holidays in Uganda with three Spanish friends: Juan, Javi, and Paula. On Thursday morning, we went to see the women that nurse Rose Busingye welcomes at the International Meeting Point. As usual, after a couple of hours of dancing, I improvised a small assembly with them. When I met them, I asked them questions that I had at heart, knowing that their experience is rich. This time, in the wake of the Fraternity Exercises, I asked them what nourishes their joy, even today, years after meeting Rose, who welcomed and treated them (they are suffering from AIDS). The first thing that struck us is that Rose continues to be present in their lives just as she was on the first day. They refer, in a simple way, to a paternity that is ever-present. They also share the same awareness that Rose has: that there is One who is making her in every instant.

Then we went to lunch at Gladys’ house, a high-school senior, who participates in the life of the Clu (which includes students from the last two years of high school). Last year, we had also gone to this same house, a two by three meter shack, located in the slum. Glady’s dad was not there last time, but remained so struck by the fact that we had been their guests, that, since then, he has named the humble house “the new Jerusalem”.

Gladys tells us that, since that day, her dad has not been the same, and that many serious problems in his life have disappeared. He works as a guardian at the Luigi Giussani Primary School. At lunch, he told us of his change, of the grace received and of his faith. It was moving, in that humble place, to hear him say: “I don’t miss anything“. We also witnessed a beautiful dialogue between father and daughter: “You still doubt my change, because you think it’s my work”, he says: “But I’m quiet because it’s something that the Lord has done“.

The holiday with the Ugandan university students

Also at the lunch are Sara, her Muslim friend Anifa and Achiro Grace, who, having finished high school, had a son and, in the last two years, has distanced herself and then been brought back closer, more than once, to the community. But it is clear that she has been marked by what she has met in the movement. Anifa prepared the lunch. It was striking to hear her talk about her meeting with CL as a preference for her life and how cooking for us filled her with joy. It didn’t seem as though she had any problem with the fact that she is Muslim and we are Christians: it is evident that the encounter with us is a treasure for her life.

The next day we left for Hoima, the location of the holiday. We traveled by bus for five hours with about fifty students (among them, two Muslim girls: a university girl and Anifa’s daughter). Once arrived, an introduction was given by Marvin, one of the boys of Kampala. This was followed by some African dancing.

During dinner, I talked to Vicky, who is one of the older students, who will graduate at the end of this year. They are the first to graduate. Until now, I hadn’t heard anyone speak of confusion and fear of finishing university, the fear of losing a certain way of being with friends, the School of Community, the Exercises, the holidays… I tried to help her look at what has happened in her life: “If what you found here is only a nice companionship, then you’re right to fear the future. But if instead, what you have found is of a divine nature, then fear becomes a question to the Mystery of how He will bring everyone’s life to fulfillment”.

In the evening, Mary Claire, Marvin’s sister, presented the film the Miracle of Marcelino. Some had seen it and, impressed, they proposed it to everyone else. The simplicity of the film, Marcelino’s gaze towards everything and the concreteness of his relationship with Jesus, will leave footprints in the following days, also because many of the boys have lost their mothers, just like the film’s protagonist.

Ignacio and Gladys during the mass in the holiday

On Saturday morning we left for an excursion to Lake Albert. We celebrated mass on a hill overlooking the lake. We ate and then listened to the presentation of the biography of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, which Gladys had read and proposed to everyone. Then, a game together.

Back in Hoima, the evening awaited us, the main “dish” of those days: a trail of songs by very famous contemporary songwriters (Sinéad O’Connor, Pink, James Arthur, Lady Gaga, Passenger and others). Arnold and Marvin are on guitar, sometimes accompanied by Juan and other voices, such as that of GladysPrimPriscilla… The thread that unites the chosen pieces is that of the heart of every man: the cry of meaning, desire, the expectation of something great, the dynamic of preference… A slide is projected for each song, with a short text, and for each one, one of the boys recounts, giving examples from his life, what the song conveys to him. It’s something exceptional.

At the end of the evening, I asked what happened during the show. An experience, I add, cannot be reduced to saying “what a lovely evening” or “how good they were”. It’s not even enough to say that those songs express the nature of our hearts. The evening is an expression of the presence of the risen Christ who, by entering the lives of these children, allows them to understand the dynamics of their hearts, better than the rock stars who wrote those songs.

In these days, the thing that filled my mind was the way in which, this summer, we talked about the experience. That is, the possibility, of being able to recognize Christ as a real factor in life. On Sunday, with Rose, I held the assembly. I was particularly struck by what Ochaka recounted. He had accompanied Alberto, the day before the trip, to ask the local tribe for permission for us to stop for lunch and celebrate mass. Last year, there had been problems, because they were asking for money saying that, if we did not pay, the spirits of the mountain would have sought revenge by stoning the intruders. I was struck by how Ochaka realized that the encounter with Christ freed him from fear of the spirits. Even today, it’s not something to be taken for granted in African culture. And not only there.

Source: Communion and Liberation

An Extract of Rose’s Speech; At the Origin of Gratuitousness, Florence Italy

Rose Busingye was in Florence, Italy for the event At the Origin of gratuitousness, in which she was handed keys to the city. This is an extract of the speech she made at the event which occurred on 1/12/18;

What is at stake is man! Always, when it comes to a human being, we must start with themselves. In the beginning, I thought this was selfishness, but it is true that we cannot give what we do not have. Who am I and who is this man I have to take care of? It is not enough to do an investigation on existence, even an instinctive reaction is not enough because it does not make it out of the Confusion that characterizes our days, does not bring out the “I”, its face. The analysis is never enough. Apparently, man can seem to be nothing in front of his problems, illness, poverty and even death.

Let me quote a great Italian poet, Giacomo Leopardi:

«Niuna cosa maggiormente dimostra la grandezza e la potenza dell’umano intelletto, né l’alte‘zza e nobilta dell’uomo, che il poter l’uomo conoscere e interamente comprendere e fortemente sentire la sua piccolezza. Quando egli, considerando la pluralita de’ mondi, si sente essere infinitesima parte di un globo ch’e minima parte d’uno degli infiniti sistemi che compongono il mondo, e in questa considerazione stupisce della sua piccolezza, e profondamente sentendola e intentamente riguardandola, si confonde quasi col nulla, e perde quasi se stesso nel pensiero della immensita delle cose, e si trova come smarrito nella vastita incomprensibile dell’esistenza; allora con questo atto e con questo pensiero egli da Ia maggior prova possibile della sua nobilta, della forza e della immensa capacita della sua mente, la quale rinchiusa in si piccolo e menomo essere, e potuta pervenire a conoscere e intender cose tanto superiori alla natura di lui, e puo ‘abbracciare e contener col pensiero questa immensita medesima della esistenza e delle cose».

“Niente mostra di piu la grandezza, il potere dell’intelletto umano, I’altezza e la nobilta dell’uomo, della capacita che egli ha di percepire e capire la sua piccolezza; quando considera la pluralita dei mondi, sente se stesso come parte infinitesimale del globo, percependo questo profondamente confonde se stesso con il nulla e quasi perde se stesso nel pensiero dell’immensita delle cose, si trova quasi perso nell’incomprensibile vastita dell’esistenza.”

Nothing more demonstrates the greatness and power of the human intellect, nor the highness and nobility of man, that man can know and fully understand and strongly feel its smallness. When he considers the plurality of the worlds he feels himself to be infinitesimal part of a globe that is minimal part of one of the infinite systems that make up the world, and in this consideration amazes of its smallness, and deeply feeling it and intently considering it, it is almost confused with nothing, and almost loses itself in thought of the immensity of things, and finds itself lost in the incomprehensible vastness of existence; then with this act and with this thought he gives as much proof as possible of his nobility, of the strength and immense capacity of his mind, which is locked up in a small and small way to be able to come to know and understand things so much superior to his nature, and can embrace and contain with thought this immensity of existence and of things “.

Nothing shows more the greatness, the power of the human intellect, the height and nobility of man, of the capacity he has to perceive and understand his smallness; when considering the plurality of gods worlds, feels itself as an infinitesimal part of the globe, perceiving this deeply he confuses himself with nothingness and almost loses himself in the thought of the immensity of things, yes he finds almost lost in the incomprehensible vastness of existence.

What is the nature of the human person? And what makes him happy?

I began to work enthusiastically, willing to help, if possible also to heal everyone that I met. I work with HIV/AIDS patients, their orphans and their families in poor neighborhoods of the city of Kampala, the capital of Uganda. I equipped myself with all the knowledge I could and the tools I had at layout. I thought this was enough but what seemed obvious was not; for example, the cards to mark when taking TB (Tuberculosis) drugs or the retroviral drugs came to compile very well, but the tablets ended up in the trash! The same for food: it was sold to buy alcohol or other things. The boys I sent to school preferred to stay in the streets rummaging through the garbage to find things to sell. Those who said they were my friends, even worse, made me suffer more, so much so that, to a certain point I wanted to escape on a deserted island with some animals but without men. Every day I saw people dying or people who disappointed me, but what I had studied and designed it was not like that. I went into crisis!

My teacher “fished me”, educated me and taught me what I was missing: who is man and who I am. Man is a relationship through which he screams of being someone. Don Giussani has revealed to me who I am and the man who I have to take care of! He established the content and method of my work: to communicate to everyone the greatness, the value and the dignity of every single person.

In this way, we started the Meeting Point International. First, it was called Meeting Point Kampala, but then we wanted to call it “International” to show that the heart of man is international, and the same for everyone and that each person must be watched in its entirety. We are involved in an adventure with HIV/AIDS patients, orphans, the poor, the mad etc, and we want to make them understand that they are not defined by the situation in which they live, but that they are greater than whatever their condition is.

Our work is based on education at all levels, because we consider education as the privileged way of discovering oneself. The method we use helps us not to solve the situation, but to go beyond and, as Fr. Giussani teaches, to look for correspondence between the reality and self-awareness, allowing the discovery of the unitary hypothesis that explains everything.

Why this method?

I began to live and work when someone told me “you are mine.” Don Giussani had not known me; it was evident that I was nothing, but I felt wanted and desired. It was as if his gaze told me, “I want to be with you, you have an infinite value”.

From this gaze everything was born, I discovered that I was not defined by my limits and my faults. From this gaze, I began to sense a meaning for my life. It is as if a light had enlightened everything, I discovered the truth of my existence and from here began an attraction, a tenderness for my life and that of others.

I began to live and work when I was able to respond concretely to the question “who am I”, this question has been answered in precise faces that have a name and a surname; so I became free. Paradoxically I became free belonging, that is, having a link. When you are free you can finally face the whole reality without fearing it, you can face everything because you know who you are! And whoever is free does not demand any more from others because he/she already has everything.

I felt free, great and the protagonist of reality because Fr. Giussani revealed to me who I am (example; meeting with Don Giussani, he said that if I were the only man on earth, God would have come all the same. Then he immediately stopped and said “No! He came for you because God does not come on earth for a group of men, before God every man is unique as an only child! He came for you, died for you, so that your nothingness is not lost “). Then a friend, Pope Benedict, in “Deus Caritas est” spoke of the love of God as a “divine madness“.

This has messed up my life, what I thought of myself and others, of eating and drinking, of the sleeping and waking up, crying or laughing; everything has gained a density, a value that you cannot imagine. Don Giussani, revealed to me that God has done for me more than what was necessary, that he gave Himself to me, a gift of total self.

Charity in its essence is this! God comes out of himself, divine madness! You act in a certain way because inside your humanity there is this origin that vibrates in your bowels. If there isn’t this charity in the instant, none of us here present or out of here can exist. He is given to us because we are happy and fulfilled.

What is coming up in my work is the truth of the value of the person. In this way, I can offer a clear and identified friendship to which everyone can belong. The “I” that is aware of belonging to this friendship becomes a protagonist, the lord of the reality not because he owns it, but because he discovers that the One making the reality is also making him.

This is why I chose as a symbol of MPI the picture of Matisse’s Icarus: I wanted that everyone could look at the red heart. The small dot which seems nothing, yet instead gives meaning to the whole painting! A man who looks like nothing, with all his problems, miserableness, poverty, death to him every day, is great. My “I” is a dot, a grain, (Don Giussani called me a black dot!) a breath that fails to be herself without belonging. Without belonging, the “I” grabs here and there. It clings to what happens, but this over time, leaves bitterness around in the mouth, as Carron says.

I saw the others happen again to me. For example, Lucy, one woman who suffered all sorts of violence, her body and physique had been disfigured by the rebels. She found herself when I told her, “you’re not the horror that happened to you, you’re an infinite value that comes from God who makes you be and who loves you!” Today she says that the only pain she has is of those she killed but can’t go to kneel down before them to apologize.

We use everything, music, and dances of every culture, trips together to valleys and hills, Lakes and rivers, football etc. We work in groups, to introduce people to the meaning of everything that surrounds them and this leads to a wonderful burst of discovery that becomes an educational chain.

This shows that it’s not enough to do projects, but its necessary the presence of a person who loves and that helps to give the true meaning to the standards and the indicators. Otherwise one suffocates while trying to measure or track progress in the projects.

Note: Not reviewed by the author.

 

Grant from Solidarity Charitable Trust

Meeting Point International (MPI) is currently implementing a project entitled “Improve the quality of life of the people, mainly women and youths of the slums and suburban areas of Kampala, Uganda.”

 

The funds of this project were received from Solidarity Charitable Trust and are being used to strengthen two cultural centers in Kampala’s slums of Naguru and Kireka. MPI will also build another center at its headquarters in Kitintale. In this way, adults of MPI, their children and the children of the Welcoming House will have a safe environment where their awareness on the importance of education and culture will be facilitated as well as the development of their personality and self-awareness. Beneficiaries of the project are the clients of MPI which includes; 1027 vulnerable children including 56 Orphans living in Welcoming House and 2190 Adults of which 950 are taking anti-retroviral drugs.

Adult Literacy sessions will be organized for adults so that they can learn how to express themselves properly and freely in the community; the youth groups like New Hope Dance Project Uganda will use these centers especially in Kireka and Naguru for activities like fitness sessions and dancing. Other youths will also access the library to do homework and reading. Various other activities will be organized such as training of the members of the saving groups; the adults and youth will participate in outreach activities such as trips to help them discover each other in a context of beauty and relaxation which is different from the daily conditions in the slums. There will be weekly workshops for example music, dance, and drama, in which adults and youth talk about their lives, express their feelings and need to be together.

 

Sports with Real Madrid Foundation

This is the second year (2018) in which Luigi Giussani High School and Meeting Point International have been funded by Real Madrid Foundation through Cesal, for a sports program at the school premises, where the 185 students between the ages of 13-17 years have had football training sessions and throughout the whole the whole year. The students have been practicing dribbling, shooting, goal keeping, throwing in, positioning, ball controlling, passing, attacking and defending with the sports coaches.

The program has been an opportunity to improve life skills of the students through learning how to play the fair game along with all its rules, accepting defeat after a loss in the football game and being aware of one’s limitation in such a way that one can work ways to improve it both individually and collectively in the team.

The students eventually applied their skills when they played a number of games against their teachers as well as themselves. They also played football on the sports day which occurred in March.

 

 

Welcoming House Rehabilitation

Meeting point international always ensures that the children of the welcoming house live in a beautiful and conducive environment where they can grow up happy and healthy.

Meeting Point International renovated Welcoming House thanks to the help received from AVSI – Assiteca and Support International. Renovation works of bed, chairs, tables, windows, kitchen, stairs, etc. has been ongoing throughout the year and the house structure has been repaired and improved both internally and externally. New structures have been set up, for example, the shed where children can now play and study.

We share some images from the welcoming house showing the renovations;

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the Origin of Gratuity

Odong Arnold Kato is a student of Makerere University Business School, studying Business Administration, he was with Rose Busingye (Director of Meeting Point International) for the event ”At the origin of Gratuitousness.” He shared his experience on charity and gratuitousness. We shared with you his story;

-Okello Marvin 13.12.18

Good morning, am very happy to be here to talk about gratuitousness, because in Uganda where I come from, there are a lot of people who need help and every time am moving on the streets I hand over a coin to the beggars, so giving is a challenge that I have to face every day and I have to give every day even when I don’t have. One time a friend of mine from a catholic church invited me for a charity, I was very excited about it. I collected some little money, some old clothes, so we set off to go and visit the orphanage.

When we arrived, I jumped out of the car very fast, I had a lot of sweets in my hands that I wanted to share with the children. When I reached my hand out to give the children, I discovered that they had no hands to pick the sweets. The children where crippled and my friend who had invited me had not told me this. In this moment, I felt very sad and very weak, I was giving and the child was trying to reach out for what I was giving but they could not hold it. This is the moment that I realized that it is not I who gives. At some point I began to wish that I could give these children hands so that they could pick what I was giving but I couldn’t. After that we sang a song, and they were singing “Jesus loves me”, most of them had Down’s syndrome, they were very crippled and they were singing that Jesus loves me, this was the changing moment of my life.

 

In that moment I realized that the same sympathy that I was having for these kids, is the same sympathy and pity that Christ has for me every moment. And I came to realize that charity is not giving, because I have nothing to give, but charity is a contribution to the work of God, it is God who gives. In this moment when I was giving the sweets, it felt useless because many times when you give, you expect a response but when I was giving over the gifts, they could not talk, could not smile, most of them had down’s syndrome, so for me gratuitousness is way of serving God, is a way of helping others discover that they are preferred by God.

Another experience I encountered when I was walking back from school going home and I find a very old woman, she came to me and asked me for some money, at that moment, I had a few coins and I gave her. I was very happy, I went back home happy that I had responded to this woman’s needs. However, they next day when I was from school, I found her waiting for me again and she was still asking for more and the following days the same thing kept on happening, the whole week, I was seeing her. In the moment I was saying, “Why can’t his woman get satisfied with what I give her?” So for me I realize that through gratuitousness, Christ is always provoking me that it is not you who gives, that I am just a tool, that I am choosing you to do my work. So that’s all that I wanted to share with you. That it’s not all about giving but it’s all about contributing, because it is God who gives. Even what we think we are giving, we are also given. Thank you very much.

Odong Arnold Kato

Keys Of the City of Florence to the Nurse accompanying the HIV infected women and Children

 

The Ugandan Nurse Rose Busingye, whom for years has been serving HIV infected women and children in one of the poorest countries in the world, Saturday 1/12/18 received the keys to the City of Florence, Italy by the Assessore Sara Funaro during the  conference “At the Origin of gratuity” Organized by Voltonet, Compagnia delle Opere Sociali, Misericordia Firenze with the support of Cesvot , Fondazione CR Firenze. The Event was attended by Cardinal Giuseppe Betori.

 

Source: La NAZIONE

Other sources of this information include;

Pay Attention to the Instant, To the Now-Aloyo Gladys

When Gladys came back to Uganda, I caught up with her and she told me her experience being in Rimini, Italy for the first time, for the event “The forces that move history are the same that make man happy”  by Okello Marvin

From the time that I got to understand the movement and the charism of Fr. Giussani through the friends that had encountered him, the one and undying desire of my heart was to reach his grave. I didn’t know when, but certainly I knew I would reach him one day and pour out my heart to him at the foot of his grave.

Hardly had I known that Christ had already prepared everything for me. He looked at my heart and was granting me my desire. Hardly had I known that I was going to go to Italy this year in August. Everything happened when I least expected. Being invited to Rimini Fiera was a sign to me that despite my nothingness. Christ is always choosing and preferring me. Even though I am not worthy of anything as big as this, he has, He has made me worthy by making me now and loving me the way I am. It is something that makes me marvel up to now, at the mysteriousness of God.

Before going to Rimini (Italy), my prayer was that Christ helps me to understand why he has chosen me for the days ahead, and also help me not to lose myself in fear or uncertainty (since I was going completely to a new environment and for the first time) and that he stays with me. Things were a bit difficult at the airports and at certain moments I was so scared. In those moments of getting scared, I could hear the voice of Aunt Rose (Rose Busingye), she had told me once, that I should always pay attention to what is happening at the instant, because the instant you miss everything.

For me this voice was like a waking call to me. And immediately I remembered this I could wake up and look at things around me. And all the things before me communicated one thing to me, “I am with you” Everything that was happening to me was because somebody was making me them and making them for me. So everything I looked at gave me Christ back and this was my certainty because I know that Christ is with me, he is communicating himself to me, He wants me to understand him more.

On arrival to Italy, Teddy and I were taken to the grave of Fr. Giussani. We spent close to 15 minutes and I knelt before Fr. Giussani, I was very emotional that I even failed to say a word. I looked deep into the eyes his eyes, in his portrait. He was looking at me. To me, it seemed as if he was calling me to follow him. I could see and understand whom I am. Because his face looked like that of a beggar, one in need of something. This is what I am, a beggar, who without an “Other” cannot live. I need a “You” in order to live every instant of my life. Fr. Giussani wrote that the real protagonist of history is the beggar, man’s heart that begs for Christ and Christ’s heart that begs for man.

And Fr. Giussani, in his eyes was telling me that I need to be a beggar in order to understand the days that I was to spend at Rimini and thereafter. So I started the days of Rimini with Fr. Giussani’s face in my eyes and heart and Christ with me, so I managed to live those days with a begging and curiosity. How I wish I had the words to describe every moment I was there. It was so beautiful. A beauty, that even now nothing can erase it away.

I met so many people at the tent of AVSI (where I was staying during the day). I met friends that I had been with in Uganda. I also made new friends. Their faces made me feel one with them and at home. They were so free to me and open with me. Through them I realized that I need this simplicity of a child in order to understand everything. Because a child has a simple heart, open, yet curious to know and understand. This is also what I need in order to face myself and everything.

For example, a certain lady came to the tent of AVSI and she had seen me in a video. She immediately began telling me about herself and how the movement helped her to be who she is now. This openness is only possible when one has the simplicity of a child.

I attended the encounter of Fr. Carron on Job. And from Professor Marro’s words and also from the experience of a sick doctor, I think I understand more about human suffering. Fr. Carron explained ways in which man suffers. He said that sometimes man suffers because of his freedom, and that he does something that hurts himself. Then he also said that sometimes man suffers because of things beyond his control, for example natural calamities or even Job who suffers innocently. Fr. Carron was asking, “But why does God keep quiet in front of human suffering? Why doesn’t he intervene?” He answered himself by saying that, if God intervenes, or takes away the suffering of man, He would have taken away the freedom of man. God wants man to face everything freely. Even so no answer is enough to take away human problem. “But does this mean that God has left us?” Says Fr. Carron, “in front of suffering, he offers to us his powerful presence. And this is only possible if we are in a relationship with Him.

Like the “why” of Job was because he was familiar with God. Fr. Carron also said that God didn’t answer the cries of Job (He instead asked Job questions) but he gave his son Jesus Christ as the best answer to the sufferings of man. Only the awareness of his presence enables man to face human problem differently. A poet said that (Imitating Job), “You have given me all possible reasons to leave You but I won’t, I am only asking why?”

All these words were for me. And even as am back to Uganda, I have everything I need to live those days even here. I don’t want to forget anything. Those days are helping me to live now even more certain and in a meaningful way.

I thank God for this friendship, this belonging that he has given me and He is using it to bring me closer to Him. It is here that I want to stay all the days of my life. I won’t let go because he doesn’t let go.

 

 

What Did Teddy Say?

EUROPEAN DEVELOPMENT DAY  IN BRUSSELS 

What topics were you discussing about at the event? What  was the event all about? 

We attended the European Development Day (E.D.D) and we had a stand for AVSI foundation and Meeting Point International where we exhibited our products. This year’s theme was on how to include the vulnerable groups that is to say women and the girls. So generally, it was designed to help in finding a way on how women, girls, boys and men can be brought together. It was also about finding the vulnerable can enjoy and access public spaces economically, socially and recreational. So, it was all about inclusive city for all were every body of all walks of life would enjoy. There were different panels, many meetings at different panels and we were before some panelists, I also attended one session with Plan International were I told them my witness like a woman who grew up in the slum and as vulnerable woman who has worked so much to see that women are empowered through forming of groups and training them.

I posed a question before the panelist, “How were we supposed to fight poverty?” As much as they are fighting for women to enjoy the public spaces, in Kampala it is a bit tricky. You find that the women are the bread winners in the place where I come from in Kireka. The women are the protagonists and want to enjoy the public spaces by using it economically. Some of these women go to town to sell their mangoes, bananas, paper beads but the KCCA (Kampala City Council Authority) authorities do not allow them in the name of cleaning up the city.

But now for whom are they cleaning these cities if am to ask? Are they not cleaning the city for every body to enjoy? Is it only for the rich people to enjoy the good streets?

There is no security for these women, I witnessed it, I had to go to the police cell to see that some women come out of the prison because of their arrest in the name of cleaning up the city. They arrest these women and spend three days in a cell and imagine they are the bread winners at home. What do you think happens to their children at home yet their mothers have been detained for three days? It only means that the children have to go hungry. The children have to move around and even end up stealing to get something to eat. Child abuse comes into play in this situation, since they are not supporting the children because they are arrested. Back home the child is just moving a round which puts him or her at the risk of kidnappers, those who do rituals and child sacrifices for richness. The whole household is at a risk originating from cleanup of the city which in the end is just for the minority leaving out the majority of the people who are vulnerable in the city.

So, I wasn’t happy because of this. I had to present this before the panelist. How are they going to help us? How will they help the vulnerable women and girls to enjoy this pubic space yet it is being restricted from them? The women are also taken to the prison and coming out of the prison they have to spend a lot of money, come back and restart again at home. Children are left unattended to, they go hungry for days and end up stealing. In the process of stealing something to eat they are also caught, arrested and taken to cell. These children face the risk of kidnappers.

When you placed this issue in front of the panelist, what was their response? Did they respond in a way that they could solve this problem? Is there a response they gave that you think can help in this current situation?

The moderators gave me only two minutes which I had to use wisely. I was directed to a lady who was from Plan International, Uganda, I think she’s an American.

Basically, she was talking about the safety, security of girls in Kampala. She gave an example of girls who go to use toilets. She said girls no longer go on their own because they are afraid of being kidnapped. They are afraid of being raped. So, for her, she was only looking at the toilet issues. That these girls have to first gather themselves to go and use the toilet. She was only advocating for girls in Kampala about the security.

Here we are fighting poverty, we are not begging for money and we are not begging people but we feel that we can do it ourselves. Why don’t they support us like giving us the tools and we use the tool to protect ourselves including the life of the others, I would prefer it this way. I don’t know if the lady from Plan International had really to go down to the grass root. The     people at the high level always get statistics. These statistics don’t reflect what is on ground most times. For me who is on the ground, I would still say they should go to the root causes of all these problems.

Girls should be sensitized not to fall prey due to poverty, they should seek on how to address these problems. Majority of the girls who have been kidnapped and killed are from the university. These girls should also be sensitized about love issues, here you find that they are tricked into love affairs just because they want gifts, money and many other needs. They should be taught, just like they say “give someone a hook to go and fish, teach someone how to catch fish and not to only eat fish or be given fish each time he/she is hungry.”. Or else it creates a dependence syndrome. This takes us back to the discovery of ones’ self. We should always educate the young ones who are falling prey of this situation.

This lady should let her organization and all her stake holders get down to the root causes and then sensitize the girl, educate them to become aware of themselves. Let them discover themselves and let them know who they are. The moment they discover themselves, they will avoid all these other problems like kidnapping.  If you know that your life is precious then protect it. These organizations should go and collect data from the field and find out more challenges faced by the vulnerable.

How can someone archive this self-discovery? What does this self discovery mean for you?

First of all, you cannot discover yourself on your own, you need someone in your life you need someone to look at, someone needs to educate you. So, when I discovered myself, I became happy. I feel that as much as I have discovered myself, it’s not enough. I want to rediscover more and its really beautiful to live this way. It is not that when I discovered myself all the problems disappeared, my problems continue, I will continue having the problems that have been having before and these problems will not go away. For me reality has taught me to live my life in a more meaningful way and that is what am doing now. All our value is greater than even what we have that is to say my value is greater than the sickness, my value is greater than everything that am going through.

By Okello Marvin

OLA AMBROSE, the man behind the fitness sessions with our women

OLA AMBROSE, the man behind the fitness sessions with our women

Can you please tell me about yourself?

My names are Ola Ambrose, I reside in Acholi quarters Kampala but I was born in Pader district in northern Uganda way back in 1995 that is on 8th of June, I was born in a village called Lee Ogweyo that is in Pader. It’s been quite a lot have passed through to reach where I am right now. My father was shoot dead 6 month before I was born. I have lived with my mother since I was born till 2004 when she was killed by HIV/AIDs. We became orphans six in number born from the same mother. The first born was married in a village somewhere in northern Uganda.

What challenges have you faced?

It wasn’t easy, first of all my father died even before I could see him. I stayed with my mother for quite few years and then she died so we remained alone as total orphans. My mother died in 2004 and life wasn’t easy, with the help of God we managed to overcome some of these circumstances. Our elder sister who was the first born of the family was married somewhere but since we were young we didn’t know but as we grew we started realised that she was married. After the death of our mother, they told her (Oldest sister) to come from where she was so as to take care of us since we were suffering and all alone. She had to first agree with the family of her husband if she could leave and move with her husband to central Uganda, but the husband disagreed. So, she left her husband and came and started taking care of us but we were young and my sister was also very young. She helped us cope up with the challenges we were facing.

In which year did you come to Acholi quarters?

We came in 1996 when I was one year old and my mother came along with us because of the war that was taking place in northern Uganda. She brought us to Kampala and we resided in Acholi quarters beginning in 1996. We came as a family because it our mother who brought us we were very young children so she just carried us and brought us during the war.

What was her source of income for a living?

Our mother when she was still in northern Uganda, she used to have a restaurant. She used to cook but the challenges she used to face that time was, some of the food used to be eaten by the rebels. The rebels used to eat her food and some could not pay. So, the day she denied rebels food, they came and found that she had never prepared food, then they went away. My mother realised and told everyone from the village to depart, to run away because she sensed something, so that’s how she escaped and brought us to Kampala. So, when she came to Kampala, she used to go and pick the food that she used grow and brings them to Kampala in a while. She brings them and sells then from there the war became too much so she decided to stay this side and she changed her occupation. She resorted to stone quarrying, stone mining, she also started buying food items from Nakawa a market in Kampala then, sold them in Acholi quarters to other people in the community.

When you came to Kampala, did you start schooling?

When I came to Kampala I was not schooling at the beginning but after sometime, my mother took me to a Universal Primary Education (UPE) school that was free of charge near Acholi quarters by then. The school which was called Kireka barracks. That’s where I used to school with other friends of mine and some other big brothers of mine so we used to go and school from there.

How did you encounter Meeting Point International MPI and in which year?

I knew MPI in 2018, that’s the year I knew MPI and it was through madam Teddy. When I was still a kid, I used to see MPI. We used to come to MPI and they would teach us how to draw pictures. I grew up seeing MPI. I thank God that in 2018 we got in touch because Teddy is like a mother to us as well. So, she introduced me, my siblings and other friends of mine in February 2018 and all these happed through the activities we do at MPI that is yoga session, acro-yoga and health education that we were doing with the mothers there.

How did you get the sponsorship at MPI?

I remember when Teddy introduced us to MPI, we did a yoga session with the mothers like three times then Rose called me. She asked me to meet her and I accepted and asked if I could come along with my siblings. We met her the following day. When we entered her office, she welcomed us and we really loved it she was smiling. She asked us to introduce ourselves. We were three guys doing the sessions with the women, so we introduced ourselves. Talked about how we lived our lives and how we coped with school because some of us studied but due to school fees and tuition couldn’t go ahead. She told us to go to any school and get an admission. We came out all us just smiling at each other very happy. That’s how the whole sponsorship came in.

What really attracted you to MPI and why did you think you were chosen?

First of all, when we came to do the sessions, what really inspired us was because we had passion in what we were doing, we loved what we were doing so it really inspired us. What inspired us was seeing the young people of Acholi quarter having the potential to do something to our mother, we had the potential to give back to our mothers. It might not be financially but we were boosting the health of our mothers through the sessions we were doing. In this we had the of yoga, acro-yoga and health education plus some other parts of also dancing with the mothers. In that process the mothers started gaining some changes in their health status so Rose was very happy because she saw the passion we had, she saw the motivation we had and when reached her office, she told us that is very rare to find young people like us doing whatever we have been doing.

What do you do currently for a living?

Currently, I am unemployed but I just do casual work, any kind of work which can at least earn me a living. I just do pottery work like helping builders at construction sites. It’s not a permanent job so you can even work a few days then wait for another chance. So, in this construction sites you have to do any kind of work. I used to do all kind of work that was really required of me so I did any work available so long as it could help me and my family. This brought contribution because we help each other. That’s how we survive though it’s not easy but that’s how we try.

Do you have any other activity that you do besides the construction work?

During our free time, we normally teach the community just like we normally do with the mothers. We don’t only do it the mothers, we do it even to the whole community like even teaching the young people as well so we do the yoga, acro-yoga and health education with the community too, leadership and communication cycle that is we do it as a project. We do the b-boy dancing with some few youth and kids who got inspired by what we. This is mainly to promote togetherness among we the young people and to teach the young people good morals and values in their lives. At first when we just began this activity we had a lot of criticism in the community were most parents were against us thinking that we may mis-lead their children but latter they realized the benefit and started to send their children in large number.

 

Can you tell me about how your project began and how you manage it?

We named our project New Hope Dance Project Uganda. It’s a project that came out of passion. For the love, we had to learn certain things. We always moved around to learn new things like the dances. It was a way of killing stress. When our mother died, we used to find possible ways to relieve ourselves from stress. So, we went around and started learning the type of dance that our friends introduced us. We started copying up with the dances slowly until 2009 when we formed a crew. We used to perform around and earn some little money and balance it with other jobs. We had to get other possible ways of earning some money like learning more of the dances, yoga, acro-yoga and some other activities like leadership skills, community saving, community sanitation then later in 2016 we formed the project officially we called it New Hope Dance Project Uganda. That’s when we opened and started teaching the community because we believed we had gained enough skills to share with others so, we started teaching the young people in the community and other people outside our community. In February 2018 Teddy who was our good friend also introduced us to MPI so we started doing a session with them as well. That’s how we started running the project. It was passion that made us do all these.

Do you have any support from any organisation to help you in this project?

We never had support but thank God we met MPI and they really appreciated the work that we were doing, they helped us with certain needs that we really wanted for the project since we lacked certain things like speakers and uniforms. So, they offered us some funds which we used to buy speakers, uniform, shoes, we bought a camera. We really working with MPI.

What inspired you to really open up this project?

At the beginning it wasn’t a project because we were just doing everything as a way of relieving stress after our mom’s death because after our mother’s death we were just trying to cope up with the new life when things were not easy. So, friend of ours introduced us to dancing so we started coping with the dancing slowly. We used to be relieved so we continued dancing. With that inspiration we got from friends around, we started learning how to dance. We also got inspired by prominent dancers like the late Michael Jackson, Usher Raymond and Chris Brown. We used to watch videos and copy some of the styles of the dancing. We never had access to dancing schools so we just learnt from friends. We used to move far from Acholi quarters to look for friends who had more ideas in dancing.

And how about the future goals for this project?

First of all, we are so happy that MPI has gone ahead to help us with the project, Rose plus the entire MPI offered our project 3,000,000 Ugandan Shillings to buy our necessities. So, we bought shoes, clothes, carpets, radio and these days we just love to train. In fact, we got more motivation to create and to share and in fact even our project has grown bigger. We were so happy for that.

We would like better training ground such that we can engage more people from the community. Then we are also looking if there is a possibility of our project getting into an entrepreneurship. In a way that we are taught entrepreneurship skills such that we can have some businesses for the project so that we can become self-funded.

by Okello Marvin

 

An Interview with ROSA HUANG

On 25/05/2018, there was an event in Hong Kong, “Africa Day Hong Kong 2018”, Meeting Point International was represented in this event. This was through a relationship with Jinja limited. Find out about the woman behind this and how it all started.

Okello Marvin 02/08/2018

My name is Rosa Huang-Rierson and I am a social entrepreneur, I am building a small company, a small business here with the aim to provide employment and training, but very much by exporting products that are going to make money. Otherwise I don’t believe that in a sustainable way create some real livelihood to support in a long term for people. So, this is what Jinja Kimala limited is about and this is what have I been working upon in the past nine months to twelve months because there was a lot of preparation we were doing.

I leave between here (Kampala) and everywhere because I travel a lot. so, my husband is here with my daughters but because of the business I need to travel quit a lot to be meeting clients and to understand what the market demands. Everything that I will sell in future wont be in Uganda and not in Africa and I will be exporting to other continents. One of the co-mission of the company is to really have a lot of the value in Uganda so I want to export finished product not raw material or ingredients. I want to export product that are handmade here but designed from somewhere else and the hand made part will be here for sure, the packaging will be here possibly everything will be here as much as possible. it is a challenging business model because most people make money by selling big volume of raw material but less work but for me I want to be true to the social mission. This is a company that is not only going to be making money but making money with a purpose.

  • Do you have a fixed range of products that you that you work on or you cut across?

I have two categories of products right now, one is organic dried fruits that are actually certified organic with certain farmers in Uganda. Second category home wear and other objects that are functional for the use in homes and that are using materials from Uganda. Speaking of this, Initially the design is outside Uganda so I have a designer in London hopefully in the future some of the design can also be designed here. The reason am trying to combine western design for western test with local material is to know the different choices because not everybody likes things that looks too African. and I don’t want to create souvenir that you bring back when you come to safari. I really want to have people see these objects and say wow they are beautiful not knowing where it comes from unless they really look and then understand that is coming from Uganda. So, two main categories of product.

  • How did you encounter Meeting Point International?

I was introduced to meeting point by Italian friend. She was working and volunteering at Meeting Point International (MPI) and she talked to me about a bark cloth. At that time, I thought the bark cloth was very interesting and I wanted to initially do bark cloth. But after a lot of investigation and a lot of investment to try to understand what was required to make some beautiful products, I decided that I would wait a little bit because the required investment is too high and also the risk is very high too. So, I start first with paper beads and painting with MPI and I worked with MPI for almost a year initially on bark cloth and now on paper beads and painting.

  • That event which you had in Hongkong were you displaying some products for MPI? What was the main purpose? Why did you choose to fund raise for MPI?

Because this Hongkong client is already commissioned for work for a mural and she’s also a close friend of mine. She believes that we could do a mural using paper beads. Initially she wanted us to finalize the mural by the end of May and I told her it was too rushed because the 24th of May is when the event happened up to 25thmay.  We had not even started the design so I had to push back and I said its too early but what we can do we can be represented.

The event on the 25th was an event that she was organising with the board of investors of different African countries and Hongkong, a lot of artists, a lot of NGOs as well as refugees in Hongkong. She’s also helping a lot of African refugees in Hongkong by giving a job for them in the kitchen, help in cooking food so she’s helping a lot of the local NGO.

She reached out to me and said “okay for the mural, there is not going to be enough time but at least we can do something that introduces Meeting Point International and Jinja Kimala so that my clients and my supporters know what is coming.” and then for that we basically decided that we will make something easy. I discussed with Alberto (Technical Adviser at MPI) to reuse some of the paper beads that were already made and we did something for decoration. So, people could look touch and ask questions about it and also, they would see logo of MPI. There was a little bit of information about who is Meeting Point International.

And about how Jinja Kimala will reward MPI, we basically try to find project of product and then we the ladies basically provide the labor and the livelihood on a daily rate. All of the materials we purchase, so there is no risk and so the ladies do not need to go and buy the materials, do the design, do the further things. So, the relationship between Jinja Kimala and MPI is that MPI provide a talent pool that we trust, that we understand through Rose Busingye and though Alberto, they tell us who is good to work with us. They will be trained and all of them will be there and we understand that and we want to give more work for the ladies of MPI.

 

  • You are concentrating more on not making so much money but to empower the person who is also working for. Why is this so interesting for you, why do you choose this approach?

I was definitely very inspired by Rose and Alberto and also the ladies that I work with that is Agnes, Catherine. They had suffered a lot but they have retained that self-respect and they have retained that desire to work hard, to earn respect and earn what they do by working well and I think it’s quite rare for an NGO because have seen a lot of NGOs that are forward NGOs. Very good-hearted westerners who come here and say ooh I can help this family that way but its very difficult because these westerners don’t often understand what the local uplifting means and I was inspired by Rose and her story of how over 25 to 27 years she built slowly -slowly this friendship and relationship with the ladies. So, it’s not an NGO that just like 1 year, 2 year, 3 years, 5 years or 10 years, it’s a whole life time.

  • What have you learnt from this relationship with MPI?

The women have gone through a horrible side but in spite of what has happened to them they still have the self-respect and have a value as a human being. The women focus on the positive side of life no matter what happens. Everyone has a good side and a dark side and Rose is focusing on the beautiful side of life which is helping the women to overcome their challenges.

BRUSSELS: THE ENERGY OF TEDDY AND SHARON

Teddy Bongomin and Sharon Akidi of the Meeting Point International in Kampala

An AVSI booth at the forum on the most important cooperation in Europe and a table where to build necklaces. So two women from the slum of Kireka have “woven international relations” with the story of their lives. And showing what is dignity.

Maria Laura Conte 08/06/2018

” What a powerful energy “: perhaps this is the most frequent comment expressed by those who met in Brussels in recent days Teddy Bongomin and Sharon Akidi , respectively 45 and 20 years, two of the women of the Meeting Point International of Kampala , which on 5 and 6 June were hosted by the European Development Days, the forum for the most important cooperation in Europe , this year dedicated to women empowerment , the defense and promotion of women.

AVSI and MPI have won together the selection to have available a stand where they can tell the participants (experts, analysts, think tanks, officials, heads of state including princesses and queens) in what kind of development aid they believe and it is worth investing more resources. Especially when it comes to women.

And the proposal made to the EU has routed the competition: focusing the stand on the experience of the MPI, the Ugandan reality initiated by Rose Busingye , and then to invite two witnesses of the multi-sectoral program that with the support of AvsI is here proposed to thousands of women that as vulnerable, as they are defined in cooperation, they become protagonists of their life.

It is difficult to describe in writing the attractive force of the lady and girl of the slum Kireka (for Sharon was the first trip ever made by air): wonder, restlessness, perhaps even envy for their freedom they painted on the faces of those who listened to them or were close to them to make a colorful necklace. At the stand there was in fact a sort of small workshop with everything necessary to offer those who wished to learn how to build their own jewelry. Paper pearls (otherwise doubly appreciated by the environmentalist context because they are environmentally sustainable) have been snapped up.

For days, Teddy and Sharon made themselves available to anyone who interviewed them. They answered questions of all kinds, retracing their personal story from the beginning, with patience, as if every time it was the first, with special attention to anyone who faced, from the top official to the volunteer on duty . And while they were talking in such disarmed ways, without realizing it, they were weaving networks of international relations and conveying a precise idea of ​​what empower means , to value-emancipate a woman.

They started from the description of the situation of fragility they were in: for Teddy the illness, the beatings of the husband, the abandonment by the relatives, the loss of his house and his property; for Sharon, she escaped from her village as a child because of the war, the life of being displaced, without food, care and clothes. Until the meeting for both with those who accompanied them to a change of pace, through health care, education, savings groups, the start of business activities … At the heart of the testimony is always the same pillar: clear communication that to have really freed them was the self-consciousness, or the recognition of their value . « Now I am free, now I am free », they repeated, but of a freedom generated by the discovery of being loved and of their own value contained in their own breath, in the pure, essential fact of being in the world. What then the money is missing, that make sure to arrive at the end of the month, that Teddy’s daughter must resist every day the pressure of those who say that for a woman is easy to make money, just sell … All this does not move a millimeter from their certainty.

“Money is important, but it’s not important,” explains Sharon, who knows how to use facial expressions as a teacher: “Only the rich can say that money is not important, because they have it. The poor know that it is important and they would like it. I always repeat: money is important, but I have more money. Money can not buy me. ”

The two women at the Lgbt stand

“If I find out who I am and I stand firm in my dignity ( nobody pronounces dignity in Brussels with Teddy’s granitic tone, devoid of any rhetoric, ed ), he does not define the poverty or violence that I can suffer. My value is irreducible and therefore I can stand in front of everything. Problems do not disappear, but take on real dimensions, which can be tackled ».

The two dragonflies of Kampala are curious, and they are curious too. Nothing that moved in the exhibition space at the “Tour & taxis” center escaped their radar. A nearby booth was run by an LGBT rights defense association. A solitary young man of about thirty was presiding over him, and he did not receive many visits. Teddy watched him sideways, until he could no longer resist and one evening approached him, with Sharon in the ribs. She stayed with him for a long time, did not seem to want to give up: “I wanted to understand what he is looking for, how he is . For us Africans it is a very distant subject. I have listened to him, I have tried to grasp his need, I have not told him anything, except that he must know that he is worth “.

After 48 hours spent in the great cooperation fair, going through the corridors with Sharon meant stopping every two steps: she greeted everyone and had to exchange something with everyone, as if she were the hostess, with her Ugandan dress and her shoes gym.

The stand was designed to show a way to do development cooperation that, in respect of all the rules and trends that the EU imposes, one of the greatest donors in the world, knows how to get to the real needs of people and from those to start a recovery, trigger a process that allows each person in each context to recover life in hand and play it in full, in its community. Teddy and Sharon transmitted it by osmosis, overcoming the filters of the bureaucracies and pro forma that often envelop these worlds. It is not difficult to think that they have infected more than someone with their way of looking at reality.

Published by Communion and Liberation 

 

From the problems faced, a beautiful story begins

Can you tell me about yourself?

I am Nkundabantu Sarah and I stay in Kireka near Acholi Quarters. I was born in Bushenyi and in a Muslim family so I was a Muslim. I am a mother of 3 children and I lost my husband in 2017.

How did you meet MEETING POINT INTERNATIONAL?

I was suffering a lot and I was tortured by my husband and he was beating me all the time.  I was sickly and my body was full of wounds. We had no food and many other needs. He was a catholic and we always fought over converting to being a Catholic.

One day I went to my neighbour and told her all of my problems. I requested her to teach me how to make paper beads so that I could get transport in order to get money to go back to the village in Bushenyi.

She told me that she also had the same problems before joining Meeting Point International but when she joined, she was helped with most of her problems. And she learnt how to make beads from Meeting Point International.

She invited me to go to Meeting Point International at Kireka and she said that I would get peace.  And so, I asked her on how I would join.  She said that if I wanted, she could take me there. She told me of the days when they normally met. She finally took me to Meeting Point International and I found women there, happy, making beads, and others making matts.

I sat down and I was so quiet and I felt like everyone was looking at me. And I asked her what I could tell them. She told me that I would be sharing with them and if I had any problem, I would share and be counselled. She told me that there was a lady called Teddy and that if she came I would talk to her and share about my problems and that she would hear me out. By that time Aunt Rose had gone for leave. Aunt Teddy counselled me and told me that I would be fine. She encouraged me to continue coming to meet the women.

And the following week I was seeing a change, my stress was reducing. We were dancing a lot. I could go home feeling fresh. In this way, I started to know the women. I started to become happy and I became stress free. I still have problems now though they don’t affect my happiness.

I got a mother who loved me in a special way and taught me about my value (A loving mother Aunt Rose). When I learnt about my value, I became happier. I joined the community school (a place where some friends meet in order to share their experiences and face life in a better way) to learn more about myself until I discovered myself and the meaning of my life.

What makes you so happy about being in Meeting Point International?

What makes me happy is the sharing between the women, dancing, educating me about my value. Aunt Rose teaching us about the value that we have. What makes me happier is my discovery about my value. I was born a Muslim and my whole family was Muslim, I joined Meeting Point International when I was a Muslim but now I am a catholic and I have changed and I am doing catechism at Mbuya church. I am enjoying many things in Meeting Point International.

I saw that you are also working at Meeting Point International, what are you doing?

Before joining Meeting Point International, I was a nurse, I studied as a nurse but my husband could not allow me to go and work, I was just at home. When I joined Meeting Point International, I got a job in Sseta and started working there and when the clinic was sold, I remained without work until Meeting Point International gave me a job so I started working in Meeting Point International as a nurse. Helping the sick women and their children and their husbands, we treat them and we also visit them. If we realise that someone is sick, we go up to their homes and see how they are doing and if it needs the hospital, we report to Aunt Rose, then they are referred to the hospital.

How do you feel when you are helping someone who needs your help?

I feel happy because they are also cooperative. We counsel the sick, showing them love and reminding them of the value that they have. It makes me happy when I can help someone and they also accept to be helped.

What do you Understand about this Value that Aunt Rose made you discover?

the value shows that we are equal. That you and I have the same value and the one who gave me this value is Christ. Christ who gives me life and everyday circumstances is there for me.

What exactly made you to decide to become a catholic?

I became a catholic because of this value which Aunt Rose used to teach me about opened my heart and I want to be near Christ who gave me this value. When Aunt Rose educated my heart, I started dreaming about Communion and Liberation, about the church and priests preaching. My heart changed and I wanted to become a catholic because I loved what she taught me.

I started studying Catechism at Mbuya church and I was baptised on 31/3/18 on Easter Eve.

I am so happy to become a catholic and I am happy to be the child of God. It was not easy for me because my fellow Muslims used to come at my home to embarrass me and threaten me so that I could give up. I could tell them that I do what my heart has decided me to do. No one can stop me now because I am a catholic and I can’t change what God has planned for me.

How did you start selling traces? And why is it so special for you?

I used to buy traces and read about my value and other peoples experiences and this helped to discover more about my value

I sell traces because I want other people to learn about their vale and to know about Communion and Liberation and to also share the experiences that are in Traces.

I would like to thank Aunt Rose for helping me discover my value and the meaning of life. I also want to thank my mother Lina for selling traces because I learnt more about my value from buying traces and reading about them. I sell traces at Christ the King church Kampala and I am so happy buy them to read for myself and also sell them. I am happy in Meeting Point International.

 

Ayoo Sarah and the VSLA Groups

Ayoo Sarah and the VSLA Groups

My name is Achan Aida Agnes a social worker of Meeting Point International following the VSLA groups in Naguru.

In 2017 after sharing the money saved, I managed to Identify one of our clients Ayoo Sarah, who was enjoying a success from the VSLA group’s activities.

Sarah joined Meeting Point International in 2006 after she was tested and found out to be HIV positive together with her husband. She is a mother of 6 children and altogether lives in a family of 8 members.

Life in this family was not good because of low income earning. The family used to eat once a day and sometimes went without meals. Her husband lost his job because of a health problem and it was hard for them. The business Sarah was doing needed a lot of energy but due to her sickness, she couldn’t continue operating the business of brewing local Waragi (a spirit).

Sarah joined the saving group in 2013, though Sarah went through many trainings about the VSLA she was not contented with what was taught. She believed that they were going to steal her money. In the first year, Sarah hadn’t saved well because she knew that they were going to steal her money. In the end of the year when the group was sharing, her money was so little compared to her group members who saved well.

In the second year (2014), Sarah decided to move together with her friends. She stopped doubting and started to buy all the shares hence saving well. At the end of the year, she was among the happy ones because she had saved a lot of money, together with her friends.

It was in the second year when Sarah’s eyes opened and realized that saving groups were so good. She could easily get loans from the group. Through financial literacy and Select planning and management, she managed to identify a business of selling water and soft drinks, setting up a stall for selling food stuffs like onions, tomatoes, bananas and many others.

In 2015 (her third year) after sharing the money saved at the end of that year, she managed to buy a popcorn making machine adding onto her existent businesses. She was now able to get Ugx 20,000/= per week from water, Ugx 20,000/= per week from selling food stuff, eventually making Ugx 40,000/= per week. She was able to run this business in 2016.

In the end of 2017, when they shared the money, she bought a motor cycle which operates in Kampala. She employs someone to operate the motorcycle and she collects Ugx 50,000/= from him per week and at the end of the month, she saves Ugx 200,000/= from the motorcycle business.

Sarah is now happy, she managed to rent a double room with electricity and she can cater for school requirements for her children. They are happy because they can now get their basic needs and they now have 3 meals in a day.

«Forced to kill my people»

In Uganda among the survivors of the horrors of the war. In a slum in Kampala they built a school by breaking stones and creating necklaces

by Alessandra Muglia – photographs by Stefano Schirato – video by Aldo Gianfrate

After a year and a half spent in the bush hostage of the rebels, Adelo was a ghost of herself. “I was 15 when they kidnapped me, but I already had two children, one just a month old. I left them to my mother. They forced me to kill and torture my people. They made me feel worse than them, a damn thing. They raped me, the Hiv came to me. I never thought I would survive all this. And let alone one day see our boys graduate and leave these huts to go to university ». It is almost noon, the sun is hot above the expanse of plates and red soil lying on the hill of Kireka, a suburb of Kampala.

Adelo smiles, then became Ketty, Ketty Adong. “I changed my name once I escaped from the forest,” he says, sitting on a bench in his brick hut in the heart of the Acholi slum. A shanty town without running water, sewers and inhabited mostly by ethnic women Acholi, the same rebels, the most massacred during the civil war that for nearly twenty years has bloodied their lands: the insurgents kidnap them to enlist them and make them they, the government, crammed them into inhumane fields before destroying their villages in search of the militia. Women arrived exhausted from the north, where the fighting raged, they found refuge on this hill overlooking a huge stone quarry. To welcome them Rose Busingye, Ugandan nurse, who dispenses care and attention with her International Meeting Point, an NGO local partner of the AVSI Foundation. Magnetic gaze, here it is venerated like a mother Teresa lay: it is the person who has “liberated” these women from the weight of inhuman experiences, as they themselves sing in a kind of welcome show. Women who have seen hell and now put it on stage, dance on it, let themselves be carried away and dragged to the rhythm of drums and calabashes. An explosion of vitality and enthusiasm that you do not expect. “At first they wanted to let themselves die – says Rose in Italian (she studied in Varese) – they did not want to cure themselves, they sold the antiretrovirals we distributed”.

They could only break stones to survive: 50 kilos of gravel for the equivalent of 70 cents in euros. And a whole day splitting her back is not always enough to take them home. A bestial effort for anyone, a massacre for these women with HIV or with already full-blown illness. But the Acholi slum today is also something else. Ketty, after telling of when she was Adelo, gets up, opens the door and proudly points out a big boy out there. Charles Carron meets us, jeans, T-shirt and deep black eyes. She is her eldest son, she is 18 years old and graduated in a very special high school: she built it herself together with other Rose women.
“Here we felt looked beyond our miseries and we were born again, we wanted the same for our boys,” says Doreen Angoon, 52 and 5 children, also from the North of the city of Gulu, and landed here after being kidnapped by Kony rebels. “In the other schools they insulted our children. Your mother has the HIV” they mocked them, sometimes even the teachers. This is why we said: “we must build our school”. And we succeeded ». In 2010, they began to create necklaces in recycled colored paper – strips rolled up like beads and then waterproofed with enamel – they sold 48 thousand, mainly thanks to the Avsi network abroad. “With our gravel we made the floors, erected walls,” adds Angon.

In 2012 the inauguration: the school is a modern mango-colored building on the other side of the hill, along Kireka road. State-of-the-art laboratories, spacious classrooms with wooden furniture, bathrooms with running water, reproductions of “The Sower at Sunset” and “First Steps” by Van Gogh and phrases like “teaching is the adult way of learning”.
The slum seems light years away. Many arrive after more than an hour’s walk and stay there until the evening to take advantage of the light that is scarce at home. Within 450 students, girls and boys together, 45 per class, half compared to 90 of the national average. Seven years after birth, it’s time for budgets. «Since 2014, they have reached maturity in 156, of these 78 are attending university – explains Matteo Severgnini, educational adviser -. The others could not access it because they were not able to pay taxes. ” Even if they work in the quarry every weekend, as many students do barefoot, from elementary to high school, to be able to pay the contribution for the school material. The tuition fees are covered for 352 slum students from Avsi with distance support. Another 100 students instead, of (relatively) affluent families, provide for themselves. The institute is also frequented by young people living outside the slums, now recognized as a school of excellence. «This year we entered the top 100 of the best schools in Uganda – 76ths out of 1592 – based on the results obtained for the final exam. A great result: nobody expected it from an institution that welcomes children from the poorest areas of the city and where it is forbidden to beat to teach ». An innovative method compared to the others where the “spare the rod and spoil the child” is valid (if you do not use the wand vices the child). “So much appreciated by the students that 80% of the 78 slum university students study pedagogy because they want to teach,” says Severgnini. The revolution of education (and of a society) starts from here.

 

by Alessandra Muglia – photographs by Stefano Schirato – video by Aldo Gianfrate

Published from Corriere Della Sera

 

How Selling of Traces is a journey to self-discovery

Selling of Traces, a journey to self-discovery

 Struck by how Aisha, Hanifa and Sara (three Muslim ladies of Meeting Point International) would gratuitously avail time to monthly sell Traces, we decided to go deeper to discover the reasons why they are so moved. Here is an abstract of what transpired in the dialogue with them.

By Andrea Nembrini and Rose Busingye

Left to Right: Aisha, Hanifa and Sara

– Why do you sell Traces? Why do you like it?

Sara

I’m a true Muslim, an original one. I joined Meeting Point International in 2011. I didn’t know what Traces was, but I started buying it, reading it and loving it. There are a lot of beautiful things in this magazine, which you can learn from. In particular, there are other people experiences, and when you read an experience that is different from yours, you discover more about yourself, about what you really desire for your life. As a consequence, I’m now studying catechism, I’m going for community school, because I want to learn more about it.

Hanifa

Even if I’m a Muslim, I joined Meeting Point International. This is because there were other people around me, but in my life nobody has welcomed me like at MPI. I was so surprised by the way they welcomed me and treated me. I used to have a lot of sorrows, my heart was heavy; but from the day I reached this place my life has changed. I’m now happy, and my family too.

So, about Traces: actually I don’t know English very well, and I even can’t read this magazine, but because of the friendship I got here, I sell it, and I love doing it. This friendship pushed me to sell Traces, but also to love this religion. Sometimes I think I believe in this religion even if I’m walking on the Islam path. I remain Muslim, but I love Catholicism.

Aisha

I joined MPI because I wanted to be happy like these women. One day there was a woman next to me with an issue of Traces, and looking to the pages of the magazine I could read a word: happiness.

But that woman was going away, and I didn’t know how to find that magazine again, so I asked her to take a look. And I saw a lot of pictures, and in all these pictures people were happy. So I asked her the cost, and I bought my first Traces for 3.000 ugx (approximately 1 usd). Reading it, I was surprised because everything in that magazines was about happiness, the possibility to be happy even if you are in trouble. So when you read about these experiences of happy people, you also become happy. Not even one story in this magazine could make you not happy.

Even now it’s like this: every time I buy it – and I always buy it – it makes me happy. Traces made me also understand that religions are different, but often what separates us is just the way we dress; instead we are together, because God is one. This is what I’ve learned from Traces.

– Could you explain your love for this Catholic experience, for Traces despite the fact you are woman of Muslim faith? How can these two go together?

Sara

Rose told me about my value, which I didn’t know about before. So I understood that this Catholic religion does not segregate, it welcomes all religions. That is because of what Rose thought me: you have to discover yourself. It means that nobody should tell you: “Come here and be a Catholic!” You are the one to learn it by yourself, but after you have discovered yourself. When you know who you are, you decide what to be. And for me, after discovering myself, I decided to stay with these Catholics.

Hanifa

When I was suffering so much, no one was touched by my situation, nobody helped me. But here I discovered I was helped… Someone has loved me, someone gave me her friendship. I even don’t know how to explain it: one day I was crying all day long, and my children as well, they were going to a very bad school, they even didn’t receive their reports… Now I’m happy, my home has changed completely, my children go to school, they study in peace, they are happy.

So how could I not love this place, which brought to me all this happiness? How could I not love this magazine, which tells stories about this place?

Aisha

Usually I buy all the remaining copies (because I don’t want to waste them) to give them to my friends and family members. At first my father, who is a Muslim, asked me where I got it from; but now he likes it, I told him to ask me if there is anything he doesn’t understand. Often Traces is so beautiful that I buy more than one copy, because I know that the one who will receive it, surely will also be happy.

– When you are selling Traces, what do you tell the people you meet?

 

Aisha

First I read it very well, and I pay attention to those beautiful things which make me happy, which help me. And because I want other people to be happy like me. And people understand if you are selling something important for you. What I read in Traces is what I tell to the people I meet, I even show them the page where the point I like is. And people ask us a lot of questions.

Hanifa

I can’t read Traces because I don’t know English, but my children read it for me at home. They show me on which page the article I like is, and so when I’m selling I can tell people: “Look, it’s right here!”.

Sara

Before you sell it, you first go through, so you know the meaning of what you are saying when you are out of the church shouting “Traces, Traces!” And you have to explain, otherwise it’s just a name for the people, they don’t understand. But if you tell them your own experience, they will tell you: “Ok, I trust you, I’ll buy it”.

– What was your most beautiful experience while selling Traces?

 Aisha

The most beautiful thing for me is that when we are selling it; a lot of people come to us because we are Muslim, asking why we sell a Catholic magazine. And we can answer them: “Because we love it; because we are getting beautiful things from it, and we want also you to get them”.

Sara

One day I was selling Traces, and an old educated Catholic man came to me, asking me a lot of questions to embarrass me. He said: “You people, what are you doing? Is this thing from Uganda? Where is it from? Is the Pope aware about it?”. But I could answer very well to all his questions, I told him about Communion and Liberation, about Italy, and I told him that even the priest, during the mass, had given the announcement about this selling. At the end he said: “You Muslim woman, you have challenged me”, and he started looking for money in his pocket to buy one.

When I’m selling it, I’m feeling as if I’m selling gold, a very expensive thing!

Hanifa

Sometimes other people who are selling other magazines in the same place told us that our magazine is very expensive because is a muzungu thing [a thing for white people]. But they also ask: “How can you stay with this white people, hugging them like friend? I wish I would also be embraced in this way.”

So, we can answer to them: “Yes, the magazine is expensive because it comes from far, but we are also “expensive” and valuable, because of the friendship we are living.”

CHILD PROTECTION TRAINING HELD AT MEETING POINT INTERNATIONAL.

LGIHE-Logo-08MPI had the child protection training with all the staff in order to develop its own Child Protection Policy. Before the training, the Director of MPI Rose Busingye Shared MPI’s approach to child protection policy.

“We can learn rules but we know very well that behind these rules there is somebody, a Name, a human person. If behind Child Protection there is a child, then you find that it is interesting otherwise it becomes usual skims or things to do.  Like in schools these days, children study for passing exams, not for development. If things have meaning, then I have to put or do anything in order to learn all the ways to do them. It’s not the government to tell me to do things but why should I do it.”

Rose Busingye.

The training was conducted by Mauro Giacomazzi of LUIGI GIUSSANI INSTITUTE OF HIGHER EDUCATION.

 

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8/05/2017

Meeting Point International monthly Staff meetings held by Rose Busingye

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Rose during the staff meetings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meeting Point International monthly Staff meetings held by Rose Busingye

Rose; “….the main thing is to know what you really want. If you know what you really want, the child will not be a problem to you, because the need of the child is your need. We always look at the child outside our lives. We don’t look at the child and think that what the child needs is what I need. We fear the freedom of the child because we ourselves are not free. If you are free, you understand why the child is behaving in a certain way. Through your freedom, the child will find it easy to belong to you. You will be a point of reference to this child….”

24/04/2017

SPORTS DAY AT LUIGI GIUSSANI HIGH SCHOOL March 2017

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Children in the football pitch

In most Ugandan schools, there is a day that is dedicated to sports activities, it is called “sports day”. Usually, the students are divided into groups called houses to which a name is dedicated. The students compete through these houses in co-curricular activities organized by the school. On such days, students show their talents, strengthen their relationship with teachers and express their love and passion for the houses they belong to. Usually, after such days, vivid memories remain in the minds of the students and conversation among friends about the day continues for weeks and even teachers go to classes and have conversations with students about the day.

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A student holding a poster

This year Luigi Giussani High School had a sports day and its houses were; St. Agnes, St. Kizito, St. Savio and St. Theresa. Social workers from Meeting Point International, staff from Luigi Giussani Pre-primary and Primary school and some old students were invited  

The day began with a speech from Mr. Kawuki Michael, the head teacher. Who recalled students to participate by saying, “The awaited day has reached for us to bring out the talents God put in us”. Two categories of games were to be played: football and netball.

The day was officially started with the prayer, the singing of the national anthem and then the head teacher declared the competitions open.

“We are not here to compete, but don’t be fooled that we are here to loose”. These were words written on the yellow posters held by the students who were chanting in a loud voice and if somebody whispered, you could barely listen.

The first game was a football match between houses (St. Kizito and St. Theresa), during which students cheered vigorously as the players counter-attacked each other with goalkeepers making saves and others missing precious chances to score. House Patrons were on the touchline giving instructions and encouraging their players. When a goal was scored, you could see teachers and students celebrating hand in hand with each other! And the game ended in favour of St. Kizito; 1:0.

On the netball pitch, the game was between St. Agnes and St. Kizito and St. Kizito emerged winners with 11:6 points. Several houses kept competing throughout the day following the fixture that was made. They were all competitive and all the students participated fully in the competition.

The air was filled with Music which put life in the competition leaving students entertained and happy. At 2:00 pm, lunch was ready, all the players and other students got their food, sat in the Pavilion of the football pitch and were entertained by their fellow students who danced. It was a great moment that left everyone smiling.

After lunch, the games continued until 5:30 pm, everyone gathered in the Pavilion, to listen to the outcomes of the competition, and were so anxious to know how their houses had performed. All the players accompanied with their house patrons were requested to present themselves in front of everyone. The master of ceremony, Mr. Wandera Joseph along with the referees made some few remarks. Outstanding students in the different fields were awarded some gifts and congratulated for their performance and was a lesson for everyone to always aim for greater things.

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St. Savio holding a trophy

Before Mr. Komakech Fredy, a sports official count read the final results, he read details of the games and this left everyone barely sitting, anticipating and calculating. Finally, St. Savioturned out to be the first, followed by St. Theresa, St. Kizito and finally St. Agnes which took the last position. The members of the winning house were so happy and excited and could not wait to hold the trophy in their hands. A social worker from Meeting Point International and a guest from Luigi Giussani Pre-primary and Primary School handed over the trophy. Upon receiving the trophy, the DJ played a congratulatory song which left students running all over the football pitch. Other houses were left with a task of becoming champions the following year.

One would ask, “Why someone would hit a ball, the round bouncing solid, try to get it, fall down trying to save it? Why this day?”

According to my observation and judgement, this event was so important in the life of many students, through my interaction with them, many of them told me that it has helped them to refresh their brains from books, helped them become flexible and physically fit, discover what they had in them, created an avenue for them to be so free with their teachers and with this, their performance in school will also improve.

The day closed with everyone dancing to Music without focusing on the results of the sports day rather living the moment happily.

Compiled by Gashumba Emmanuel.

Visiting families

 

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On our way from the stone quarrying, despite the hotness of the sun… we moved home to home visiting our families. We went there not like the best educators nor like experts but as a friend who wants to stay with them in their daily life.

 

FIGHTING THE VIRUS HIV/AIDS DIALOGUE

 HIV/AIDS DIALOGUE 

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Florence , 43 years old. 

Sometimes I could wake up and look at my children, and think of the value that Rose always remind to us. Without hesitations, I take my ARVs (antiretroviral drugs) and I think to myself “I need to live and for my children too. We had an HIV/AIDs dialogue with Aunt Rose, she taught us how to stay in front of the disease in an interesting way, I learnt about how the virus operates in my body, the usefulness of the drugs and how to fight the virus by eating proteins foods and now what make me wake up in the morning is the what Aunt Rose said “When you discover your value, you discover how to protect even what you have.”

 

MPI-AVSI

Yesterday the 12/20/2016, after a year of working and living, women of Meeting Point International accompanied by Rose (Director) with the sense of gratitude went to thank AVSI FOUNDATION UGANDA for their friendship and patience that they have had in all these years accompanying their desires, dreams. But all these struggles with AVSI friendship have made Meeting Point International what it is today.

Thank you JOHN MAKOHA (Country representative AVSI) for receiving us.

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THE LOVE YOU HAVE FOUND.

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Farewell for Francesca Peverelli at ITANDA

It was a beautiful month June, four buses carrying 130 women and children headed to ITANDA falls in JINJA district to bid farewell to Francesca who had been a volunteer at MEETING POINT INTERNATIONAL for about one year. When Alberto and Aunt Rose arrived with Francesca, the women were already singing and dancing full of excitement while other women and children were looking at the waterfalls; women danced and sang different types of songs and danced.  Shortly at the glance of Francesca, women ran to carry her up and turned around dancing.

Francesca did not know that it was her farewell as one whom they were about to miss in few days to come although they would still remain in her heart.

After along dance, at lunch time both the women and children sat together ate food. When all the people had eaten, youths sung some songs and shared their experience about MEETING POINT INTERNATIONAL, women too shared some experiences. One of the youth, Polycarp said before he joined LUIGI GIUSSANI HIGH SCHOOL, he was a boy who used to join in fight, he did not see anything good in the person even in himself but as he was talking at the moment he is one of those people who has changed completely. Whenever he could see anybody fighting he comes in to stop it. Ever since he became aware of himself, he is totally a changed person.

Another lady by name Francina was also happy and gave her witness saying that she has found a home in MEETING POINT INTERNATIONAL she has found a happiness and good friends. Francina added that she used to be sick but Aunt Rose treated her heart and body, mind and opened her eyes.

She thanked Francesca that she has also become a friend to all the women. “You were sent to a good soil, you got the best mother Aunt Rose. Tell the people there about the love you found in MPI” said Francina to Francesca. Francesca told the women that she was going to miss the women but she added that she found a home In MEETING POINT INTERNATIONAL and more so the awareness of herself. She had also discovered her value.

Written by

 Teddy Bongomini

CHILD SPONSOR RELATIONSHIP.

CODICE KIR 1519 

BERNARD KAYEMBA

5/11/2016

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                              ( The Sponsor of KAYEMBA BENARD in the photos.)

Yesterday has been one great day for me and my husband because we received your photos with your grandmother and we saw the new bicycle and other things and we saw your smile so nice that our heart was full of happiness.

We are very happy to help you and your family we like to go by bicycle and we are glad that you too can walk around with the new bike we know that you are good student and you are very sharp we know also that your dream is to become a pilot but we don’t know if you want to became pilot of car or bike. We would like to know this we hope to receive your letter soon

You are our little angel!!!

elisa ilario.

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Kayemba Benard and the grand mother) .

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IS A RADIO-CONTROLLED CAR WHAT YOU NEED?

IS A RADIO-CONTROLLED CAR WHAT YOU NEED?

Ronald is a boy supported by AVSI through Meeting Point International; he received a gift money, a little amount of money to spend for buying what he needs. He lives in a Welcoming House, he shares everything with other Children there because he is so charming, despite is goodness he lacked clothing. That’s why RosKIR-0572 2e looked at the gift money an opportunity for him. Rose took him to the supermarket and showed him many useful things that thought he needed: underwear, raincoat, schoolbag…but the Ronald wasn’t convinced on something else that Rose showed him, Rose didn’t notice the fact he had seen before a red radio controlled car.

Ronald needed nothing else but the red radio car controller, Rose gave him time to choose among the numerous alternatives. In the end Ronald chose the schoolbag but at the moment of paying Rose realized that he was sad, she understood that the bag was far from what he desired.  She told him to go and take what he needed. He run faster than he could and in one second, he was back with a car in his hands.he needed a lot of things but a car was the only thing he desired.

When Rose was asked why she bought something that the boy did not need she reply «A boy play up only when he is aware of being loved, if he or she is intimidated in front of someone he would not have the courage to ask for something. What the boy was asking is the aim of the iceberg of the awareness he has to be loved despite all the limitation he has. The fact that an orphan is aware to be loved till the freedom of play up is the defeat of poverty and abandonment»

written by Francesca  

GIFT MONEY EXERCISE .

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Looking at the bicycle smiling, he started talking to his grandmother endlessly a sign of gratitude for what he had received. He didn’t know cycling, for him having it at that moment seemed forever. 

compiled Jude 

CHRISTMAS WITH MPI WOMEN

Christmas with MPI women

(Interview with Rose Busingye (Director MPI) with Lumanyika Bright)

Before this New Year of 2016, I heard about the Christmas Celebration that the women of MPI had at Luigi Giussani High school. What roused in me was the desire to know really what had happened on that day; I couldn’t hide from that fact that had happened, it was such a disturbance that left me yearning to go deeper.  It was for me too that moment and what dominated was nothing but the desire to relive those memories with someone who had witnessed that feast. So I asked Rose (MPI Director) to share with me about the Christmas with the women.

What was for you Christmas with the women?

When we talk about the women, people begin to look at what they do, their mistakes, we really don’t look where they are looking and we don’t see what they have found that is beyond the mistakes they do.

The preparation was on that morning of 24th, on 25th it was ready. If you ask our people who are working they say, “me I don’t have this, I didn’t budget” but imagine that evening the women budgeted, they contributed money, went for shopping and on Christmas; it was ready. They bought two goats and one pig then each one was bringing potatoes, chicken, rice and others. You would see that, the most important thing was not the preparation but something that was happening; that something that was connected with their lives. Maybe with friends we bargain, we buy this, we don’t buy this, and you would really understand that it’s something beyond friendship.  People who tell their children and husbands that “you remain home, I am going to celebrate with my friends” this is a wife telling a husband.

You can see that when one discovers a value; everything rotates there, everything serves what the person is, the value the person is, the problem is when we start the other way round, we start with money and forget ourselves. We think that the most important thing is money more than our lives and then we hang up there and we are not moved at all. Christmas is just a day like any other day, but for them what I saw that day was something beyond life. We stayed there up to 7 pm in the evening, and we ate while dancing because it became like Christmas is celebrating ourselves and what came is for me, is me. It’s not to have a new dress but to have myself. It’s to celebrate life that is what I witnessed.

I kept gazing at her while she was telling me all this, I felt as if nothing mattered any more than the desire to stay and look where those women were looking and to have what they found.

Written by

Lumanyika Jude Bright

2/02/2016

AN INTERVIEW OF THE STUDENTS ABOUT THEIR EXPERIENCE IN THE HOLIDAYS IN RELATIONSHIP WITH THEIR LIFE IN SCHOOL.

My name is Gashumba Emmanuel. I am a Social Worker of Meeting Point International, following up children in the Distance Support Program Office (DSP) both at home and school to understand their social wellbeing, behavior and characteristics such that they are helped to discover their greatest need, desires and value. I attended my high school from Luigi Giussani High School, completed senior six and right now am studying at Makerere Institute for Social Development doing a course in Social Working and Social Administration and at the same time working at Meeting Point International as a Social Worker.

Meeting Point International (M.P.I) supports over 1700 children in their education and most of the children under support belong to the women of M.P.I. When the women of M.P.I, through their encounter with Aunt Rose discovered their true value, they wished that their children also discover the same value that they had discovered, everything they touched acquired a meaning and become present for them and so they wanted their children to also feel this total Joy and happiness that prevailed within their hearts. What struck me most and keeps on moving me every day is the great charism that the women exhibited through the selling of various paper beads made from recycled papers and provision of strenuous manual labor in the setting up of  a beautiful school for their children called Luigi High School and the Primary school called Luigi Giussani Pre-Primary school. Most of their children study in this two schools and they wish that their children can discover who they are, the love that their mothers have for them and God their creator through a beauty that is in front of them. Some other children, study in various schools surrounding Kampala and among these  schools we have; St. Jude nursery and Primary schools, Mivule schools, Nagalama secondary school, St. Kizito schools and many other schools to mention but a few.

Children have been in schools, a few months back and they were in their third term of the year, meaning a term that is supposed to determine their promotion to the next class; some have been candidates like the senior fours, senior six and primary seven. They have all been working very hard, reading day and night, consulting teachers in order to acquire good results that would enable them to move to the next level of education. At the end of the day, those who worked hard acquired good results and were promoted to next classes. For the candidate classes, they are still waiting for their National Exams to be released by the Uganda National Examination Board (U.N.E.B).

Most of our children are now in their holidays at home helping their parents in various domestic works like mopping the houses, rolling of paper beads, working in the stone quarry with their parents, selling charcoal with them, cleaningutensils and many other types of work.

Most of the homes of these children are located in the suburbs of Kampala City especially in Naguru and Kireka. Since this is, the longest holiday within the whole year, I Gashumba Emmanuel a social worker of Meeting Point International decided to carry out an interview on one of the students of Luigi Giussani High School called Namaganda Brenda who shared with me her experience at school and home. She said that “when the term is ending and am going for holidays I feel very happy, good and I feel like jumping to the sky because in the holidays, I become stress free from the books and exams. It’s the time I interact with all my family members with ample time and no interference at all. However with time, I become bored and start missing my school again. When she told me this, I posed a question to her [why do you get bored at home and after you start missing your school again? She replied to me saying that it’s because most of my friends are found at school than at home. At school, am more free and I express my self freely because am with my age mates and she added on saying I also miss my teachers at school, the good food, the good structures of my school and various school activities that take place at school like the Music, dance and drama, sports and many other school activities that keep me busy, happy and active. 

I replied to her, wow it’s a beautiful experience because, it reminds me of my school days in high school where by, when the time for holidays was approaching, I used to fill very excited because the pressure for reading books would reduce and that’s the time I would Participate more in various co-curricular activities like playing basket ball and football. I would also get excited to have much time with my family members but after a few weeks at home I would also again desire to go back at school to study and interact with my colleagues. Basing on this interview, I came up with a conclusion that most of the students when they are getting their holidays, they are very excited but when they reach at their homes, they get fade up of the life at home and they again desire to go back to their schools and even when they are at school, they feel like getting holidays. This is really so striking, hahaha oh oh oh…….

 

Namaganda Brenda

2/01/2016

THE PIONEERS OF LUIGI GIUSSANI PRE-PRIMARY AND PRIMARY SCHOOL (L.G.P.P.S)

IMG_6356In this world everyone’s wish is to always be the first or on top of the others.This refers to the children who sat their Primary Leaving Examinations from Luigi Giussani Pre-Primary and Primary school. It was challenging at the start to convince the children to join the school but when their time came to leave the school, most of them felt like not leaving the school, yet they had no choice but to give room for the incoming candidates.

If anyone like me ( Adong Evelyn a social worker at Meeting Point International) had a chance to talk to these children, or see whatever they did, one could really feel that they were really going to miss the school because of the love, care and protection that they were always given at school.I had a chance to enter their classrooms and sawthe indicators and reminders written by them that Never forget the Pioneers of L.G.P.P.S I was really moved personally because in my years of Primary seven, we left no reminders as we were leaving the school butthis love that the children showed for their school was different. The pioneers never wanted to be forgotten due to the fact they are the first primary seven (candidates) to sit national examinations in this school.I had a chance to talk to one of the pupil (Carrado Corradini Joshua), he first responded with a smile and his face portrayed happiness. To me, his smile and face made me realize that there is somethingspecial about the school. He then continued telling me that.

I love the school and missed it because of the teachers like Mr. JohnBosco (head teacher) and Miss Monica who always spent their evening hours playing football, netball and also the gym activities like jumping, skipping, and others with us honestly, it is rare to find teachers in a school playing with the children. This is because most schools in Uganda are mainly academic based and they don’t care about the social wellbeing of the children. In fact the teachers from other schools don’t build relationships with their children.

Corrado continued telling me that “At times we are called to the staff room and given snacks,by the teachers”. “Mr. John Bosco was always after me to ensure that I eat food.Whenever I am not feeling happy teacher Bena (class teacher) was always concerned to know why am not happy but not only to me but also other pupils in school”. When I had these words, I remembered my school days where by the teachers never cared about the children and no teacher could take an initiative to know whether the children have eaten food or not. I must confess that L.G.P.P.S is really a school among schools that I have seen. The last thing that amazed me from Corrado was what he said when I asked him what he would tell other people about the school.” L.G.P.P.S is a good school. I will tell them to join the school because even the support staff try to ensure that children use the toilets properly and they don’t destroy things in the school compoundtherefore in L.G.P.P.S they not only care about the academic progress of the children but also their social wellbeing in the society.

 

Complied by

Adong Evelyn 

2/3/2016

ITALIAN SPONSORS VISIT TO MEETING POINT INTERNATIONAL AND LUIGI GIUSSANI SCHOOLS.

During Christmas holidays, a group of Italian sponsors came to Kampala to visit Meeting Point International and Luigi Giussani schools.  One of them is called Lorenzo; he started sponsoring Luigi Giussani schools before he even saw where his effort was going, all this was because of the friendship with Rose Busingye (the Director of MPI). He met her in Italy and he decided to involve himself with what this woman has built in Kampala. Reaching Kampala and realizing the concrete impact of his contribution surprised him. He was happy and he could not imagine the beauty of the experience he was supporting and all he could say was “I am happy to sponsor people who are happy”. Lorenzo was amazed in front of the way people live here: the community of Kireka and Naguru is composed of women who have incredible stories: “I am free” they sing. Free form all of the reductions that affect people’s life: they are focused, centered (as the Pope says) on the Christian encounter they made through Rose. It releases every woman from all the limitation they have: money, success, wellbeing are meaningless if a person does not get the value of life. Instead of taking these women live giving everything to the others and are happy and free. It really provokes all of them and me: I was accompanying them and I have never felt so involved like that moment because those women were changing the conception I have of happiness and well being. Lorenzo said “Supporting a school or an NGO does not help you to understand the fact that behind these institutions there are people and there is an experience that can change the world”. Why a group of women can change the world? Because the happiness they show among the difficulties of their life is the sign of the dearest thing they have: they meet Christ every day in the things they do: working, feeding children, crushing stones, making beads. Looking at them I realized that when the Pope says “When Jesus become part of our lives, we cannot longer remain imprisoned in our past. Instead we begin to look at the present with a different kind of hope”.

These women share an experience that make them friends, and this friendship is generating development. Lorenzo and his family were welcomed by the women of MPI in Kireka: they say it was like being welcomed by a family. Families of people who are free to give you everything, because they already have what really matters: the value of life and the value of the Christian experience. After dancing and singing with Rose plus the women, the visitors went for lunch with Rose.

This was an occasion to ask Rose about the story of Meeting Point International and to go in deep in the story of the women that generate this beauty. Rose told the stories of Teddy, Florence, Tina, Priscilla and many others so we could know in detail the past and the present of these people. Many stories were incredible for us because we realize that it does not matter what kind of problems or difficulties a person has to face: if someone in aware of his/her value can discover that this is greater than the issue or the limitations. This way every challenge can be the occasion to discover again that each person is loved and every instant is meaningful. Lorenzo repeated “I am surprised in front of the happiness of these people. They have lost many things, but they have what really matters: they know why they wake up in the morning”.

Rose told the visitors the episode of the Christmas Party at Meeting Point International. On the 25th the women celebrated the catholic feast in the field in front of Luigi Giussani High School. Teddy, one of them, said “We did not organize anything. On the 24th we realized that we want to spend Christmas together and even if we were many, all the hearts were turn to the same thing so we moved on as we were one; on the 25th everything was ready and beautiful because everyone brought the best she has. I brought the console and I was the DJ. We danced all day and at the end of the day I was not tired”.

Later visitors went to Welcoming House and the Children welcomed them: all of them were astonished because they noticed that nothing was missing in the life of those children. They are loved and accompanied in their growth: Apofia, Rose and the “aunties” take care of them. You can see that even if they are so young they are aware of the fact that someone loves them now and will never stop. This awareness can really make the difference. Children are hopeful and happy for what they receive every day and not sad for what they do not have. What Rose and Apofia give them is something that can change people’s lives. Apparently these children have nothing because they share everything and no one possess “things” but looking at them especially at the way they live, everyone can see that they have the love of someone who will never abandon them and it gives strength, hope and curiosity in meeting the others. The awareness of not to be alone in front of life’s challenges is what can change someone’s life. Here in MPI is evident: people do not need their problems to be solved, because these problems are challenges. People need to know they are loved and not alone.

The thing that surprised Lorenzo most was the happiness of the people he met: contributing to the development must be a contribution to the growth of people. The happiness Lorenzo noticed is the sign of the awareness that people have about the value of life. They are happy because they know that everything they do has a value. When someone understands that he or she has a value everything he or she does get meaningful because every experience becomes the occasion to discover the meaning of reality and of life. I work here since July, and accompanying the sponsors has been a great occasion for me to understand again what I can discover in my everyday life here.

 

Francesca Peverelli

 

WHO LOVES LIFE, GIVES IT AS A GIFT.

Rose Busingye has been interviewed by an Italian journalist about the visit of the Holy Father in Uganda; listening to her has been a great occasion for having an overview about how the presence of the pope in Africa is relevant for the circumstances that the “first and the second world” are living now.

The real challenge to face is linking the interest of the pope for every person in the world to the challenges that everyone faces in daily life.

Rose Busingye has focused on this point clarifying that what really matters is the meaning that every human is looking for in his/her life.

  • Our gaze was fixed on that man

The first question of the journalist was about the meaning of pope visit. What does the presence of the pope in Uganda mean for her and for her People. Rose said «the thing that I really realized is that Christianity is done for the every human being. Christ comes in man’s life because it is what every human being is done for and looks for».

This was not the first time Rose met the pope, but is the very first time that it happens among her people. In front of Francesco there were people of different confessions and religions, all in front of him. What allows us to stay in front of a meaningful presence beyond all the differences? It is that we are all done for the same purpose: recognize the One who can give meaning to every aspect of life.

  • The “European” image of the pope

Rose was asked about the perception that African people have about the pope. Sometimes in Europe, public opinion try to reduce the Holy Father and what he does to political leanings, but Rose simply affirm that for an African things are simpler. He is the responsible of the Church: from Peter to Francesco he is the one God has chosen.

  • African Anthropology

The journalist asks Rose’s opinion about the “interest” that the pope is focusing on Africa. Rose underlines that every person here is looking for God. There is no atheism in Uganda because the fact of living, here, corresponds to the awareness that our life is linked to someone who can make it meaningful. Everyone in Uganda knows that is made for something greater that what himself or “the world” can provide.

  • What is “poverty”

The next question focuses on the theme of the third world: the journalist underlines that the presence of the pope can be link to the needs of this continent, but Rose explains what poverty is underlining the real nature of it. There is a difference between poverty and misery. A person can be poor even if is covered of money. Being poor means that not to be aware of what really give a meaning to life. If someone takes care of the poor, he does because has been educated to recognize that the value of that person is greater that the material condition and the challenges his/her has to face.

  • Martyrs and terrorists

Here in Kampala the pope visited the places where Christians were martyrized. It is strange to compare this way of giving life to religion to the fundamentalist way of kill themselves for the faith. Here Rose explains how «who loves life gives it as a gift because it is full of meaning, who think to kill someone else is because has think to kill himself. The emptiness in people’s heart provokes violence, it’s not religion but lack of meaning»

10/12/2015

 

SOCIAL WORKER ANNUAL REPORT, AN OVERVIEW ON OUR WORK.

Working to collect the documents for the Distant Support Program of AVSI, MPI’s (Meeting Point International’s) social workers have the occasion to look at the impact that our work have on vulnerable children supported. Two times a year the donor has to be updated with information about the child supported and the Social Worker plays a key role in this communication: he or she is the one in charge of building the bridge between two different cultures in order to show how the money provided has been invested in the path of growth of the child.

This work takes a long time, and is a great occasion for a critical review on the work done during the year. Reading through the personal communication of the child and the communication written by the Social Worker, I was surprised in front of the great things that can happen when a person is accompanied in the challenges and the efforts of everyday life.

The first thing that got my attention was the fact that there are very young people, thanks to the social workers and the carefulness of the teachers, who have a great awareness of themselves and of what really matters in life. In particular there are two twins who attends the “Luigi Giussani High School” who underlines the teaching method of the school they are attending. These girls explain that the aim of the teachers is not only to make them learn information and skills, but they want that the children can discover themselves, their qualities and their potentialities. The method is to introduce them activities that reawaken all the desires they have: art to reawaken the desires of beauty, dance and sports for discover all the potentialities of the body, Theater and Drama of African tradition to develop the awareness of their history. «The best day of the year has been the one of Music Dance and Drama: all the students participated. Different events took place like folk songs, traditional dances and poetry were performed. Everyone was completely astonished and excited. What a day it was», wrote a girl.

The beauty of this experience is possible, thanks to what is happening here, the carefulness of the teachers and thanks to the fact that someone in another continent decides to invest on the current situation of a vulnerable child. It generates a gratefulness in the child that gets aware about the fact that they are not alone in front of their challenges and it reawakens the affection for who is making it possible. The twin of the girl mentioned above writes to her donor «I have always wondered who you are to me. Sometimes I can think that you are just a sponsor to me, but I found out that you are a family and every time I wake up, I pray to God to keep us close. No matter how the distance is. I still know that you really care about me».

These witnesses are just the aim of the iceberg of more than one thousand children that are supported and accompanied in their life. The most clear perception I had meeting these young people is that they know that they are not alone and the fact that someone is interested in their situation and wants to be their friend and walk with them. People don’t need their problem to be solved, because behind the solution there are other problems that arise, people need to discover that they are not alone and that happiness is something that can really happen.

In the SWAR of a Social Worker, it is very well explained «We do not only want to take the children to school, but we want them to experience care and love; that in front of their suffering, there is someone thinking about them and always there with them in each challenge they meet».

    Francesca Peverelli

                                                                                                                                                                         10/12/2015

Report on the two refugees families from Rwanda via Congo, then Uganda.

Through a friend called Francine working in the Italian Embassy, MS. Rose Busingye (director of Meeting Point International was able to know about the two refugee families. She was moved by their situation and in this way she sent social workers to follow up these families and to find ways how they can be helped.

We found that, these two families (10 members) originate from Rwanda in central and East Africa. They left Rwanda because of the inter-tribal war between the Hutu (majority) and the Tutsi (minority) that resulted to the 1994 Genocide. By early July 1994, forces had gained control over the country, including Kigali the capital city of Rwanda. In response, more than 2 million people, nearly all Hutus, fled Rwanda, crowding into refugee camps in the Congo (then called Zaire) and other neighboring countries. This war claimed many lives, many people were separated from their families, and displaced, lost their jobs and many people lost their qualifications in the burnt houses.

These families makes me realize that, the gift of life is given to us by God and very precious. Every time we all struggle to live our lives to the fullest we run the risk of forgetting that the one who gave it us has power over it. The most important thing is to always learn to love ourselves like the way these families love themselves and in this way we shall live our lives according to God’s will. This is because if you love yourself, it is easier for you to also love your neighbor and give value to the others in life because in life there are circumstances that are beyond our control but all we have to do is to face the reality and in this way we are able to overcome these situations just like the way this family did.

These families are always moving together, you cannot imagine the mutual relationship that exists among the family members, they do not want to leave each other. When times became tough for them, they went and hide in the forests of Congo, they could not what was happening in that area. After some time when insecurity persisted in Congo, they fled to Uganda but since ‘’tough times never lasts but tough people do’’, which reflects to the love that these two families shared.

In Uganda, these families settled in Kakiri found in Wakiso District which is in the central part of Uganda, where they are staying in the same house that was given to them by a friend. The heads of these families were primary teachers in Rwanda but they lost all their qualifications in the burnt houses during war. People always say that you will never know how “hot fire is unless you step in it yourself”, this is because we always don’t take the situations other people are going through unless you also go through the same situation. In order to fit in one’s shoes, you should be aware of yourself and your freedom.  In order to earn a living, they resorted to doing casual work like washing clothes, fetching water, digging in the garden for people and at the end of the day they are able to get what to eat. All this was so challenging for them because they never knew the local languages that are used in Uganda but all in all they were able to live happily in the society.

Rose embraced them with the love of Christ and the value they have in them and with the love that they shared, they were inseparable because Rose tried to take the children to the Welcoming House so that they could be able to get the basic needs but they were inseparable, the children resisted because they could not imagine leaving other family members.

I was also moved with this family because amidst all the trials, whether young or old, they were ready to face it as a family. The more you realize yourself the more you will know about your neighbor, all this comes after one discovers him/herself. Rose could not imagine one man who moves into people’s homes looking for a job to dig in order to exchange for food, in order to feed ten members. During our recent visit, I visited the family, because we had managed to take three children to school while the two remained at home as we were getting a solution for them to start school in 2016. She was being disturbed by the other two old children who were not going to school, they kept on asking her ‘why they were not going to school yet their brothers were going there’ so we had to organize with the head teacher of the school so that he would allow them in school the coming year since it was already in the middle of the term. We also discovered that just the little support that we had given them, the two women who were living with the children had discovered a skill of making bags out of beads in different colors, they looked nice and for sure, we realized how grateful it is to help such kinds of families, I the social took the photos, Rose Busingye was moved by their creativeness and she asked them to bring samples and she will help them to sell them through Meeting Point International, the income they will get will help them improve their standards of living.

Written by, Adong Evelyn

Social worker

Report of child letter exercise at both Luigi giussani High school and Luigi Giussani pre-primary and primary school.

IMG_6217

Children writing letters, poems, stories and draw good pictures.

Child Letter Exercise is an activity where children share their life experiences to the sponsors who support them in education. They write letters, poems, stories and draw good pictures expressing their happiness to their beloved sponsors. This activity started on 1 /11/2015.

We started with the candidate classes of senior four and senior six of Luigi Giussani High School. It was very easy for us to deal with these students because they are adults and know what to do.

After working on the candidates of Luigi Giussani High school, we came back the following day and worked on other three classes, senior three, two and five. They were very happy to write to their sponsor, they shared many things with them for example they talked about the school activities that took place in their school like Music, dance and drama, sports day and also the situation in their families.  They were very cooperative with us and this made the exercise run very smooth. When we reached in senior one, it was so attractive the way the children wrote their letters, they were full of love and passion while carrying out  the exercise.

After completing secondary , we  then went to the primary section .  we also started with the  candidate class primary seven.

It’s a very exciting moment most especially the young ones in Nursery and Primary.They are very eager to write letters, poems and stories. Every child wants to be the best in this exercise. Children of P.5 to P.7 are good in writing letters, poems and stories while those of P.1-P.4 are good at drawing pictures and shading.

The nursery children know how to shade pictures. They are the youngest at Luigi Giussani Pre-Primary and Primary School. The education system in Uganda goes into stages and this is the first stage of child development. A child is born with an empty mind however the environment keeps filling it that in the end the child becomes Human.  Luigi Giussani Primary is a school that grooms children to become human through teachers, Social Workers and the Executive Director of Meeting Point International (Rose Busingye). It starts from infancy stage through the Nursery teachers of the school then to the Adolescent stage.

I myself feel great while carrying out this exercise because I like interacting with children and this exercise made me feel good seeing the children eager to participate in it and share with their sponsors what really on their mind and it also gives me a chance as a Social Worker to interact freely with the children and understand them better.

Social Workers helping children of baby class to shade drawings for their sponsors. They are all very excited. The one on your right is a Social Worker called Gashumba Emmanuel of Meeting Point International and the one on your left is Muhimbise Elizabeth a Social Worker from AVSI.

They are showing us how they managed to shade nice drawings. In this activity, we encourage young children who cant write to shade drawings with the most beautiful colours to their sponsors.

Compiled by Mugisha Eria

1 /11/2015

Abandoned children find 3 families among the women of Kireka Acholi Quarter.

“The heart of man is one and it is the same in Italy, in Uganda and in every place.  When you know that you have a value, you know that also the others have a value”.

Three children were abandoned by their mother and left to their paternal grandmother who is old and also vulnerable. The social worker of MPI Teddy was informed of this situation by a neighbour of the grandmother and she was concerned about the health’ condition of the three children that are 7 years old, 2 years old and 7 months old respectively.  The grandmothers works washing the clothes of other people and she stays away from home all day so the children remained inside the house alone all day long.  As soon as Teddy became aware of this situation, she decided to go for a home visit to the grandmother’s place. She said: “As soon as I knew that there were three abandoned children I decided to go and to see how they were living, if they had food and water, the place where they were sleeping and their daily activities. From my experience I have learnt that if you want to understand better a situation you have to live that situation together with the people and to share with them their life. So I decided to spend one day with the children and the grandmther, from 7.30 am to 11 pm. When I got there I saw that the situation was not good: the children were left alone all day, they had not enough food so they had to share 3 bananas, one was given to the youngest, one to the second one, and one was divided in two partes, one for the oldest child and one for the grandmother. They could eat only a banana in a day. I saw that they had appetite, but when I tried to give them a cup of tea, they vomited all of it. They were malnourished and they spent all day inside the room, they didn’t play with others children and they weren’t happy. I tried to speak with the grandmother to understand what we could do in order to help her and the three children. She told me that she could not take care of the children. The first thing that I did it was to share the issue with the director of Meeting Point International, Rose Busingye, who took the children to the women of Meeting Point in Kireka. When we arrived at Kireka, Rose explained the situation to the women and she asked: ‘what shall we do with theese three children?’. It didn’t pass one second that one of the women said: I’m going to take one, and then just after her, another woman said: I’m going to take the little one, and then another one said: I’m going to take the other! In five minutes the three children found a second mum and a second family.”

I was surprised when she told me that, so I asked her:

“ Why did these women, that have their own children, decide to take another child and to take care of her?”.

Teddy smiles at me and she says: “We have received a great love, a love that says to us that we have a value, that we have our own dignity. We have been looked as beautiful persons. At the beginning, when I looked at myself I didn’t see nothing, I was nothing. Then I met someone who looked at me not for my errors or for my limits, but for my desire and for my value as a human being. I wanted for myself that gaze, so I have started to stay with the people that loved me. Now, I and also the other women want to do the same with everyone. The money are not a problem in front of this great love. I feel happy when I can help someone to be happier. I started to work as a social worker for this reason, I love to stay with people and to go along with them looking for their value. This is my life, and I love my life”.

She introduced me to Apolot Florence who is taking care of Mugerwa Sharon, who is 7 years old. She said: “When Rose came and asked us what we should do with the abandoned children I had no doubt. These children have a value like me and like you. When I was in need, someone took care of me and of my childen without asking me anything, we have been loved as we were. I want to love as I were loved. Sharon is now happy, the first week that she was with me and with my children she didn’t play with them and she was apathetic, but then she felt loved, she felt at home, and she completely changed. Now she is attending P1 in Luigi Giussani Primary School, she eats properly and she plays with her friends”.

Written by Marta Gulden

Rose’s speech at the 30 years celebration of Avsi in Uganda.

Who is Man?

MPI entered into an adventure with the sick, the poor, the old and the orphans to make them understand they are not defined by the situations they find themselves in!

Together we wanted to discover the meaning of life, suffering and even the meaning of death! MPI works with the people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS and their orphans.

MPI invest on education in all levels and ways as an instrument for self-discovery, the method we wanted to discover is something that goes beyond school itself, discovering the correspondence between the real and our consciousness, discovering unitary hypothesis in the explanation of things.

Why did we start with this method?

I began to live and work when somebody told me “You are mine!” He did not know me; it was evident that I was nothing! But I felt wanted and desired. It was as if his gaze was telling me, I want to stay, you have infinite value!

From this gaze everything was born. In fact, I discovered that I was not defined by my limits and shortcomings! From this gaze I started foreseeing meaning for my life; it was as if light shown on everything. I started discovering the truth of my life, and here started attractiveness, a tenderness for my very life and for the life of the others.

I started living and working when I knew how to respond concretely to the question of whom I am! When the question have precise faces with names, I became free!

Paradoxically I became free through belonging, having a link, when you are free, finally you can stay in front of all the reality without fear, you can  face everything  because you who are! Who is free don’t pretend from others, because he or she has everything!

I felt free and protagonist of the reality because Fr Giussani revealed and educated me who I am, his gaze stablelised the content and the method of my work, to communicate the greatness and the value of the single person, my work is to make clear the coming out of every person value of the person.

That is why in MPI we use so much the symbol of I carras

Sometime ago in Uganda everyone knew he or she belonged to a tribe, a family. According to African tradition, the children, women and men belonged to entire community, the individual grew in a bond having a consistency and a dignity, and everyone knew that his or she is somebody!

Now days frequently families are broken due sickness, war, divorce and other family conflicts, the family bonds has been overstretched to breaking points. HIV/AIDS has also denied Parental love care and guidance, which used to determine our social character in the society. Some end with crippled behavior, low self-esteem, self-pity feeling of rejection and inward hatred.

Men and women grow without defense without points of reference without a value, sadness and solitude as if their existence no meaning they stop to live. What dominates is insecurity and instability in all aspects, incapable of constructing and responsibility and they treat themselves as things as instruments.

One could say that we are living a time where civilization seems to be ending; because civilization only evolves in fact to the degree that the value of every single person, every single “I” is helped to emerge and become clear. We live in an age when this does not happen,

Man does not know who he is, where he comes from and where he is going. He does not know the meaning of the things great and small that happens to him. Confusion and bewilderment prevail due to the lack of clear points of reference, a lack of clear criteria by which to make operative decisions, to assume responsibilities of life.

It’s a world in which the identity of the “I” seems to be daily placed in crisis; an inconsistent I, incapable of creation and responsibility.

Who is man then, how can he be helped to know who he is? Allow me to quote an Italian Poet Leopard’s note book! “Nothing shows more the greatness and the power of human intellect neither the height and the nobility of man, than the power he has of knowing and completely understanding and feeling  strongly his smallness; when considering the plurality of the worlds, he feels himself an infinitesimal part of the globe, feeling it deeply and observing intensely, he confuses  himself with nothingness and almost loses himself in the thought  of immensity of things and finds himself as it were lost in the incomprehensible vastness of existence.

What smallness! Who are am i? What is the nature of a human person?

Lucy, Everyone come to me to see all what happened to me, am like a container full of problems, but who is Lucy! I have become famous because I carry with me strange, strange sickness, strange problems but me who am I? Julius, you look at me as a dead person, am going to live to tell everybody that life have a value even death has a value if not why is it there.

The nature of a human being is a need for a meaning, for the truth.

The need is man’s structure, man’s nature

What am I, coincides with the urgency of a meaning, starting from what touches my flesh, the definition of me.

Icarus, the red pulsating point, the endless desire for happiness a plea for a meaning, for happiness

Francis, with my mother, I felt somebody, but now she is not there, so why should live, it was the only relationship that I felt somebody, now I feel nothing without a value.

The nature of the human being is that bond, the fusion of two lovers, this is where development starts from conception up to old age, even scientific studies have demonstrated that a person deprived of love and belonging causes physical and functional harm, specifically the results can be reduction of the size of the hippocampus  a fundamental cerebral structure that regulates the body’s response to stress and reduction in the numbers of connections among the neurons which impact the evolution of logical thinking and the capacity of reflection, this may cause lasting consequences that may shape ones destiny.

It’s evident that the fundamental element of the development of the person lies in the mutual conjugated belonging of the two factors, man and woman! It’s in this bond that the true belonging reveals itself as freedom, the capacity to adhere till identification and assimilation to what makes us be.

The first aspect of freedom is affirming a bond, otherwise one does not grow, he or she stops assimilating.

Every human being needs a guidance beyond oneself, that is something on which one would really depend on. If not the personality under formation is impaired and confused! If not guided, one day everything will boil down to giving in into reactions or being drugged by external forces.

Jane (welcoming house), fathers are those who put on trousers, without a relationship one ceases to exist, nothing last, Jane was always absent minded, distracted……and many others! And she had abandoned to reaction instead of choice, and one reacts to an impression and becomes a prisoner to it.

Man reveals his true nature in every action, nature thrust a person into precise being, into a perfectly defined positivity, so a person encounters, and compares everything he meets with a precise predefined positivity until his real nature is unfolded.

To educate to this sense of belonging that defines the human person a process is almost necessary, that is to say, education takes place if the awareness of belonging to someone else is transplanted in the adults that educate not through a speech; without that osmotic pressure, speeches create only obstacle in the consciousness of the listener.

MPI avails a relationship where one discovers again his value, he or she discovers that somebody, discovers a consistency, a dignity. Its educative un tiring relationship helping them acknowledge life’s total meaning, continuous provocation to their consciousness so that they can regain that sense of the dependence that was mishandled.

We use everything, music and dances of different cultures, we go together by valleys and hills, lakes and rivers, football teams for women,

So that adults and children can come across the spectacle of the human emotion, a fascinating stimulus to proceed with their implications, even should that person later deny them,

Groups are formed among the women and men, to introduce to the meaning and the sense of things that surround them, and this draws them to a marvelous of eruption of discoveries which becomes a chain of education.

This is to prove that its not enough to make projects, but a presence of a person who loves and allows you to give a true meaning to the standards and indicators, allowing you to go beyond the false opposition between data and the person.

We tried to form simple srt

11/09/2015

INTERVIEW TO TEDDY AND KATTY ABOUT THE MEETING WITH THE POPE

Teddy and Katty are two of the women that are going to Rome on the 7th of March for the Audience with Pope Francis on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the birth of CL and the 10th anniversary of the death of Fr. Luigi Giussani.

We have asked them to tell us why they have decided to go to meet the Pope, what they are looking for by going there and also what kind of sacrifice is for them going to Rome in terms of money and work.

 Teddy: “I want to share with you a bit of my experience. I want to tell you how was my life before I encountered a friend, that is Auntie Rose. She really changed my life and it is still changing. My parents died in 1992 when I was still young, I dropped out of school and the only thought that came to my mind was: ‘maybe if I get married, that will be the beginning of my happiness and I will finally enjoy life’. But even after I got married, life was not as I thought. I still needed something more, there was something lacking in me. There was nothing beautiful. Every day was a new day of sorrow, there was no happiness and yet I thought that someday  I would be totally happy, but it wasn’t so. Not until I encountered Auntie Rose. Every day, after work, she went to community school. After some time I asked to Auntie: but what do you really do in community school? I also want to come and see what you people do there. She said to me: yes, you can come! She had never told me how beautiful it was.

The first time I went, I didn’t understand well, but still I wanted to hear more and more about the work of Father Giussani. He was still alive, he had not yet died. One day I picked the courage and I asked her: how did Father Giussani gather all these information so that he can really talk about people? I thought that he was directly talking about me. How can his speaking correspond also to what I have been throughout in my life? I had no one that showed me the right way to go through my life, not until, slowly by slowly, during the work of community school, I was educated and I became aware of myself, finding who I am.

Once I was attending a community school for youth and auntie Rose asked to us: Who am I? Who is man? From there I understood about the infinite desire of the heart and how the heart of men was created by God. For me, in general, throughout my life and from the time I met the movement, what really touched my life and the way that I live now is that I become aware of myself. My heart is educated, I learn about myself and so I am now free to live a happy life. Now I live knowing that I am a value and I look at everything as a value, I look at all the gifts, the gift of friendship, the gift of the husband that I had (my husband passed away last year). When it was announced the meeting with the Pope in Rome on the 7th of March, I was really touched because I just automatically said: I am going to meet God, because the Pope is God himself and so I am going to meet my Father. The work of community school has taught me a lot, it has changed my life: I look at things in a different way, not as I originally looked at them. With my experience, how my parents passed away, how I was left alone and how I was treated from my in-laws, I almost lost everything, but even in that I still remain happy because I know that all of this has happened for something greater. It is only Him who makes me exist, He is the only one who will continue to make me live, because He is the only one who knows me better than any other person. I am happy because of one thing: the greatest thing that I have in my life and in me is the gift of life and Christ that lives in me. I know that even in sadness He is here with me, accompanying me together with all my friends. First I thought that I was alone but after discovering myself, I was never the same, I have never been alone anymore. Without Christ and without the encounter with Him in my life, I would not be the one that I am. I am going to meet the Pope full of joy, I know that when I will meet him, I will come back different. I am going to be more and more aware of myself, my heart is going to be reawakened.

Finally, I want to say that money is nothing, I borrow them from the saving group. Tomorrow morning I am going to borrow some money to get the Visa and the day after I will proceed to the embassy. But I am not feeling any pain, I am not regretting anything because going to meet the Pope is about me, it is all about my life. I have made many sacrifices but I did them because I saw more value in going to meet the Pope because it concerns me and my life.

I pray the Holy Spirit to touch each and every person in the whole world, so that they can become aware of themselves, of their value and of their dignity. I think that if people could know that they are a value, the world will be at peace until the day in which we will meet our destiny.  Thank you.”

 Katty: “The first time that I have met Rose she smiled at me and she showed me another life. That was the time I realized: ‘maybe I will be ok’. But what did she really do to me? She just asked me: ‘What is your name and where are you from?’ I feared everything because I was having a lot of smell and flies around me, but Auntie Rose and the women showed me that I am important, that I have a value. I have started to join them, to work with them hand to hand and then I also started to go to community school. The first time it was not ok because I didn’t understand well and I came back home and I stayed there for 3 weeks. But my heart was telling me to go back to community school. I went and I put my mind to learn. I learnt that if you want to know and learn something you have to be patient and also that the work of community school is good for me and for my life. Before meeting Rose, I was always thinking to what happened to me in the past, but since I joined community school I can live all my things in the present. My heart kept on moving. When I went for prayers and for Mass I saw people that were taking the body of Christ, so I asked myself: ‘Why can’t I take the body of Christ like them too?  I wanted to be in the number of those who were taking the body of Christ. By the time I joined community school, they showed me that Catholic people welcome people. So I decided to be baptized. Last year on Easter I was baptized with my children and with other 15 people. I was very happy.

One day at Meeting Point in Kireka, Auntie Rose told us about the meeting with the Pope in Rome. Now I can say that money is nothing. When I will meet with the Pope it will be even better than meet my father. I look at the Pope as a big father. I was not expecting Rose to tell us anything that day, but when I heard it, I understood that money is nothing to me. Money is not my life, but the value that I am. Community school makes my heart moving ahead so I go to meet the Pope”.

 

Kampala,

Marta Gulden

INTERVIEW OF ROSE ON WORK.

Meeting Point International (MPI)  in the beginning  wanted a person to discover  his/her  value and dignity. In the activities we do like Medication, school fees, food, emotional and material support, shelter among others, is an instrument to educate  the person, through  what  MPI  gives  one discovers  himself/herself, in these activities MPI wanted  the  beneficiaries to realize that   they are  greater than these things  MPI  is  giving  them. The great success is that people begin to discover their value, they no longer see death they take drugs regularly without difficulty which is evidenced in their glowing health.

 The women had discovered their value and wanted the same for their children.  When the director of MPI, Rose Busingye  had no money,  they told her wait, the outcome was  48000 necklaces which were  sold and today,  you see the beautiful standing schools  of Luigi Giussanni High school(LGPS) and Luigi Giussani   nursery and primary school in the hill of kireka and Kamuli road. The smiles of the children and women staying in there, the uniqueness of the teaching, the care given to them are outstanding making these schools one of a kind in the country.in these schools the teachers are attracted to the children take care of the children like their own. What the women learn, the children learn, When children learn , the women learn too. It’s a harmony of success.

One is educated beyond education, it’s the totality of your life, MPI doesn’t want to leave anyone in front of his worries, challenges, they journey together educating each other, it goes beyond school itself. When the women discovered their value and dignity, they started to work which is seen in the way their VSLA groups are exceling, no one is running after them, when MPI teaches the women, they teach other and develop in their small ways. They make necklaces with new fashions, the number of beneficiaries MPI buys requirements and rent has greatly reduced because the parents are taking care of it, when one discover the value they excel, weak students when they discover this, they take off, the child is not measured by a report, he is greater than the marks of the class the children are assured that they are not these poor marks, they are greater than them because the marks do not define them. These have seen among weak students exceling in their academics.

Wen u really discover the meaning of your life , u discover the meaning of everything, at 18 is the real age of educating  the child  for MPI, it’s when you  can accompany the child and  the freedom of this child, here the child understands the meaning of his life , why he should live and study. When you  stop at 18 you have not educated,  that’s why we take time, it’s not easy to accompany the freedom of a child, you wait slow   for the freedom of this person  to move.

When a child reaches adolescence, is the moment of discovery, the moment of beauty, is when the child needs an education, it should be total, because a child needs to understand really who he is.

A happy person has  no problem of welcoming another person regard less of  his own  challenges because you know who are, you know what another person is, you know what life is , and   you take care of it, because it’s precious,  when you have something precious you protect it. You develop it

The value  and dignity for the beneficiaries is clear and this is the development and success For MPI

For instance the experience of Marvin at student at LGHS

“The way that I have been looked at Luigi Giussani High School changed my life: one tells you that you are a value, that he wants to stay with you to find out the meaning of your life, and you see teachers that take care of you not only for the performances and the results, but first of all for the desire of your heart to be happy.”

In one of our weekly meeting, we asked Marvin to tell us his story, his interests and his dreams in order to understand better what is interesting also for us and for the sponsor. Every story of the children that are sponsored is interesting and full of facts that can also become a provocation for us workers and for the sponsors that read the report.

Marvin is a 17 years old boy who is receiving support through Meeting Point International in order to attain his education. He has completed his ordinary level of studies and he has now joined the advanced stage with aggregate 23 which is a division one. About his results, he said: “I know that the results are great but I was expecting a better score, because I was sure to have tried my best during the examination. For my nature if I don’t get the maximum I’m not happy, nothing is enough, but from what I am living and experiencing at the school, I now know that everything I am and everything I do is embraced”.

Then he tells us what he has learnt and what he is still learning at work and at school: “Working here at Meeting Point is a great opportunity for me, because I can learn many things, it is like a dream that comes true. I have been always interested in working in an office and in using the computer, so when I started to work here I was very happy, it was great. The thing that I am learning here is that I am not perfect, I can make many errors on work, but that I am not defined by them. I am something greater than the error I can do. Many times I make plans and then something unexpected happens. Once I planned to meet with some friends and then my mum asked me to go to work to the shop. I really wanted to stay with my friends, but I went to the shop. At the beginning I stayed there without speaking with anyone and thinking that I wanted to be with my friends, but then I tried to let my heart open to the unforeseen and really something unexpected happened. Some of the other vendors came to me and they started to speak in Luganda, that I don’t know very well, and I also got to learn many words. I started to enjoy the work at the shop. Now I can say that everything that happens to me it is for my growth. I have started to look at myself as a value when I started to go at Luigi Giussani High School because I received a new gaze on me, I felt loved. I have started to say ‘I’ and to become free in front of others and in front of everything that happens in my life. When you become aware of who you are and of what your heart desires, everything becomes more beautiful. One can have a lot of money and be fine, but then in the end he is not happy because he is not aware of the great desire that he is. But one can also be poor and be happy, because his heart is alive”.

One of us asked Marvin: “What is beautiful for you?” and “What can help someone that is not attending Luigi Giussani High School to discover the same of you?”

He said: “My seriousness with the reality can also show to others what I saw and what I experienced at my school and in my life. Life is a continue encounter, and in front of all that happens I have to go deeper and find out what it means to me. When you judge something, you have to do it starting from your nature, from your desire. Things become beautiful when you know for whom and why you are doing them. In everything that I do, in my daily activities I want to be fulfilled. I am fulfilled when I am aware that Christ is with me, that He is guiding my life, so I am not scared of anything and most of all I am not defined from what I can materially reach. My life is beautiful because there is someone that takes care of me”.

 

23/09/2015

Luigi Giussani High School, the latest “flower” born from Father Giussani

Rose: This is the latest “flower” born from Father Giussani

“The project of the Luigi Giussani High School was started because we wanted the kids, like the adults, to understand their true value. Our intention was therefore to see if our experience could educate, and so we wanted that what began with their mothers, who have discovered the value of their lives, could continue in the children as well”. Rose Busingye, the founder of Meeting Point International in Kampala, Uganda, says this about the Luigi Giussani High School, a new secondary school built in the capital of Uganda, in the district of Kireka, which will open on February 3. “The mothers participated and are helping even now, even doing strenuous manual labor. Our intention was precisely to create this wonderful place for companionship and belonging to ensure that these children can discover themselves,” Rose says.
And all of this was possible thanks to the many necklaces made of recycled paper by the women of the Meeting Point…
When a person finds herself, when she realizes her value, then everything that she touches acquires a value and becomes present. The most important thing is her discovery that she is not defined by poverty and disease, and when she discovers the infinite value of herself, then, at that point she can do anything, even necklaces. There is a moment where you feel thrown into reality as a fighter, and nothing scares you any longer because you know to whom you belong. Afterwards, everything becomes easier, through the flourishing of this belonging.
On May 21, 2010 you laid the first stone?
Yes, but our stones have the uncanny ability to take root, grow and even make flowers! The school can accommodate 400 children, from twelve to eighteen years old, and in the coming years, this number will grow to 600. The building has twelve classrooms on three floors, some office space and laboratories. Children become the protagonists here, in a place where they can experience education and human growth.
This is also thanks to the mothers, who have done everything to ensure a future for their children, right?
Education begins with the family, the most important thing, and for this reason the Meeting Point has created these small communities where the women greet the kids as real children, even if they often are not their actual children, in order to create an essential and fundamental relationship. We do not know how it will go in the future, but the fact that even one child can discover the value they have is a great success for us.
What can you tell us about the great solidarity that was created for this project?
The school project was carried out thanks to the many friends who have supported us not only economically but also psychologically. They gave us the strength to continue and helped us in building this wonderful school. They have also contributed substantial funding, but I believe that where there the heart is, there are also funds. On February 3, we will inaugurate the school, and all the women are preparing many things for the big event. Many friends will also be coming from Italy and Spain, together with the Apostolic Nuncio, who will baptize the children and give his blessing, as he did on the occasion of the laying of the first stone.
What does it mean for you to see the school named after Luigi Giussani?
The merit for the school is not only ours, but is because the work of Don Gius [as Rose calls Don Giussani, ed] continues and is always present. His first mission was in the schools and, as we continue to try to carry out his intentions, we saw right away that his charism continued to influence us and change us. Basically, I think it is possible to live happily only by savouring the charism of Don Giussani because it is made purposely for man, but unfortunately man often goes in the opposite direction.

Katrina – I was moved to tears because I was not like them, I was not moved by what happened in America, instead they were moved.

“When I received the news of Katrina Hurricane, I asked to have a minute of silence to pray for those who died. But one of the women told me: “When you met us, you did not only pray for us and I now that I am dying I do not want that if someone meet my children he does pray for them only….we want to learn to love as somebody loved us”.

In four weeks they fully filled a lorry with stones to be sold. I was moved to tears because I was not like them, I was not moved by what happened in America, instead they were moved. The human heart is like this, the human heart is this: it moves and when it sees another man in need, the first thing is to say: “I am with you”

Rose

Necklaces changing lives of HIV-positive widows

Sanyu Andrew Nsubuga, Uganda Monitor

Yet still, nothing observable about those beautiful, bright-coloured necklaces serves to prepare a beholder for the incredible story behind those handicrafts. A story of necklaces some have called magical for the way they have been able to turn around the lives of everyone connected to them.

We are talking about the necklaces made by the women of Meeting Point International (MPI), an NGO in Nakawa division, which works to improve the lives of poor women living with HIV –particularly around Kireka and Naguru areas in Kampala.

MPI was founded 22 years ago by Rose Busingye, a woman who, upon returning to Uganda from a 10-year sojourn in Italy, just couldn’t watch passively as positive women living with HIV in her neighbourhood of Kireka were dehumanised and destroyed by the disease.

Busingye says: “I saw that the women were very poor and had problems finding food, shelter and other provisions, not only for themselves but their families too. Being HIV positive in tough conditions had made their life hell, and they needed help to begin living meaningful and fairly dignified lives.”

Busingye got some of her own money and added to it what she was able to raise from her friends overseas, then began seeking out the suffering women and trying to help them live better lives. She registered the NGO Meeting Point in order to have her initiative working in an organized manner.

“She would help us with medication as well as food to eat,” says 68-year old Janet Nabirye, who was one of the first to join Meeting Point Kireka in 2000. “She also would find sponsors to pay our children’s school fees.”

Starting to make Necklaces
Busingye recalls that as the number of women she was helping increased, it became very challenging to meet the bills, and she had to figure out a way the women could also help themselves.

Since most of them had formerly been working in the stone quarry, breaking stones, she only had to find something that would both bring in some more money and also not wear them out since most were living with HIV. “I had seen a few of them making crafts, and since I knew that crafts had a market in Europe, I settled on introducing craft making as a business for Meeting Point,” Busingye says.

The women shared their craft-making skills among themselves, and a few volunteers from Europe also came and offered them some training. Tina Kabakunirwa, who has been with Meeting Point since 2004, recalls that the necklaces were just part of several other handcrafts that the women made, others including sweaters, mats among others. She says the ladies in fact still make other crafts alongside the necklaces, only that the necklaces sell most and have eventually become the flagbearer of all crafts they make.

The process of making the necklaces

The necklaces are made primarily from waste paper – all sorts including newspapers and magazines, among others. The process starts with making of beads, and here magazine pages are marked off and cut into long, thin triangles.
The triangles are then rolled around a needle and sealed with glue, creating an egg-shaped bead. The beads are then threaded onto a string and vanished to give them a glossy shine –the varnish taking two to three days to dry.

The women make their necklaces as individuals, mostly at home, each making her own unique and creative designs.
Then each presents their product to Meeting Point, which puts all the products together and looks for market for everything –most going overseas. However, each woman receives payment for her particular products as they sold.

How the necklaces have changed the women’s lives

Josephine Atimango, a member, says, “Necklace and bead-making has been a wonder for us. Many of us never used to have food at home, we used to toil for long hours in the quarries of Kireka to get something to survive on, but now we no longer need to do that.” SRC: Monitor

 

Impoverished women from war-torn Uganda, many of them with HIV, perform arduous labor for weeks to raise nearly $900 for local hurricane victims

Thursday, November 24, 2005
Reported by Bruce Nolan of The Times-Picayune in New Orleans told their story on Thanksgiving Day. The Dallas Morning News repeated it in an editorial last week.

 

A WEALTH OF COMPASSION

Impoverished women from war-torn Uganda, many of them with HIV, perform arduous labor for weeks to raise nearly $900 for local hurricane victims

The Kireka slum clings to a stony hillside above Kampala, Uganda, home to at least 5,000 impoverished refugees who live in hand-fashioned shelters bordered by outdoor latrines.

The hillside is not only home, but work: Strip quarries line its face. Men dig out its larger rocks, while hundreds of women spend their days in stooped manual labour, pounding the rocks by hand into walnut-sized stones for sale as construction material. They earn about $1.20 per day.

So American aid worker Amy Cunningham could scarcely believe it when she was summoned to Kireka last month for a festive celebration in which dozens of women handed over nearly $900 in wages: their gift to victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

“I was just completely blown away,” Cunningham said. “At first I thought, ‘This can’t be true. These people are just scraping by.’ But I went to the ceremony, and they were so happy to be able to send over this money. They were just overwhelmed with joy because they were able to do something to help.” 


The women turned over their money to AVSI, a Catholic Italian aid organization in Kampala, which will forward it to an AVSI office in the United States. In a few weeks, the money, combined with donations AVSI has collected from other sources, will be sent to families in New Orleans, Metairie, St. Bernard Parish and other hard-hit communities, said Jackie Aldrette, an AVSI worker in Washington, D.C.

The charity of the Kireka residents is partly the story of Rose Busingye, a charismatic 36-year-old Ugandan nurse who founded Meeting Point International, a private relief organization that has embedded itself in Kireka to help the people who live there.

Cunningham said she marvels at women like Busingye, organizers whose compassion, strength and optimism draw women into tight-knit communities that sustain their members in the face of crushing circumstances. Many of the women of Meeting Point International — in fact, most of those who donated their work to New Orleans — are infected with HIV, Busingye said.

“There are so many groups out there that would basically give you the shirt off their backs if you needed it,” Cunningham said. “They are so empowering. These are very strong women who identify, in particular, with suffering.

“We would consider them disenfranchised, but they are just extraordinary. They just said, ‘We can do this.’ And they did it.” Before encountering Meeting Point, many of the women of Kireka were emaciated and abandoned to the march of their untreated illnesses.

“We help them bring back dignity and values that seem to be lost,” Busingye said. “We give medical support. We support their children and provide education, food to those who do not have any.

“We do not spoon-feed. We do not want them to feel like beggars. We try to help them get some little income, to do some little business.” The motto of the Meeting Point is “One Heart,” which means “the heart of man has no race,” Busingye said. “It moves to another human being wherever there is suffering.”

The women’s plan

Weeks ago, the women breaking rocks on the hillside above Kireka heard the news of Katrina’s devastation in the United States. Busingye said their hearts had been touched last year, when they donated some of their earnings to victims of the tsunami in Southeast Asia. But she said she did not have the heart to ask for another effort, so she asked only that the women pray for Katrina’s victims.

But they wanted to do more. In a written account of their relief effort, Busingye told AVSI that one of the women, Akullu Margret, told her she knew she would die of AIDS. “When I die, my children will be left like those in America. Someone will have to care for them. I want to care for someone also. I want to give a lunch, or at least a malaria treatment.”

The women of Kireka believe that “those people who are suffering, they belong to us. They are our people. Their problems are our problems. Their children are like our children,” Busingye said.

Soon 200 women pledged their work. They broke rocks for weeks and donated most of their wages to the Katrina pot. A few others turned over their revenue from selling bananas, necklaces and small chairs. At a ceremony in Kireka last month, Cunningham and other officials were invited to receive the women’s gift, which amounted to 1.6 million Ugandan shillings, or $800 to $900.

Cunningham said she was struck by the women’s joy at being able to make the donation. There was dancing and seemingly endless testimonials as individual workers explained their motives for giving, she said. Many are members of the Acholi tribe, driven out of the northern part of Uganda by a bloody, long-running civil war. “One told me, ‘We know what it’s like to lose our homes,’ ” Cunningham said.

The celebration included a rock-breaking contest at the quarry in which the visitors were invited to match up against the chronically ill women. The women of Kireka won. “I tried it; it was incredibly difficult,” Cunningham said.