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 RELATIONSHIP BRINGING ME BACK TO MYSELF

My name is Mr. Wandera Joseph, 38 years old, a teacher at Luigi Giussani High School (LGHS) and I teach Christian Religious Education (CRE) and History. Am also in charge of training the choir. I joined LGHS in 2013 and became the deputy headteacher officially in 2015.

When the lockdown was imposed for twenty-one days, we thought that after those days, things would go back to normal but it didn’t happen that way. The lockdown was indefinite and we didn’t know when schools would open, we had no hope at all. Most of us teachers were at home and didn’t really have anything to do in line with our jobs. I was at home with my children, I would do a number of activities with them but I felt that something was missing. I was missing my colleagues and also the work. When the HTC (Head Teacher’s Council) was suggested and it first convened through google meet, I was very happy, it brought back life and hope. First of all, this meeting was for us (adults) because ‘you can’t give what you don’t have’ and later for the students who join us all together. It was from these meetings that we decided to give work or self-study materials to the students and also visit them at their homes. Since the lockdown had affected us, we also imagined how our students were doing. We had to keep in mind our relationship with them. We decided to engage the teachers first, to begin with preparing work for the students. It would be dangerous for us to leave them ‘alone’ at home. The students received the work but later got tired of it. Their daily lives were not involving academics; they were facing a number of issues as human beings. We were interested in their humanity than anything else. If a human being is ok, then they are able to face anything. The human being requires another. Before the lockdown, we had a relationship with our students where they would reveal to us the challenges they were facing in life. Since the lockdown was put in place, we didn’t know how they were doing and if they had anyone to talk to. It was then that we decided that the work was not enough, we then went to their homes. They were asking us when they were going back to school, we didn’t have an answer for them, but we told them that the fact that we were at their homes and providing them work as well, we were thinking of them.

One of the places we went to was the welcoming house where we have a lot of our students. We had a session of dancing and singing with them. They easily express themselves in this way, it was a nice moment that we realized they liked as well. Seve (Educational Advisor at LGHS) continued to journey with them through different activities. He later gave me a letter that the children wrote inviting me to sing with them. We arranged and I started to go there for a number of reasons i.e. I like music, all the children were in the same place so it was easy to organize, their parent was willing to accept me into the home, most of the things I learned in music was free and most importantly, I was moved with how the children were expressing themselves, I wanted to do something for them given my knowledge in music. Being there was also for my own good because I was always happy, it was an opportunity for me to keep on discovering myself. I have an opportunity to interact with children at school and my home. A relationship with a child helps me to be appreciative to God because I was once their age and He has taken care of me through all these stages. He is looking over me and He takes me as a precious person. If you are by yourself, it’s hard for you to discover some things but in a relationship with another, you discover a lot. We had the Christmas carols with the children at the welcoming house, they were of different ages but for me, it was the humanity before me. It was an opportunity to live the moments of the nativity through the songs. After the carols, we were all happy and I kept on checking on them through phone calls. Some days I would go there and we would do a number of activities like playing, singing and I was even teaching some of them how to play the keyboard.

COVID-19 had its negative effects like confusion in the education system but for me, it was an opportunity to stop and think, to ask myself what life is, and to reflect. To discover the important things in life and not take them for granted. For me, one of the ways I discovered this was through the children.

Compiled by Adoch Mary Clare

12/04/2021

THE BEST WAY TO LIVE IS BY HOLDING THE OTHER PERSON’S HAND AND MOVE TOGETHER.

Akongo Margret, a 47-year-old mother lives with her family of 10 members in Naguru, a slum in Kampala. She stays with her husband, 3 biological children, and other children she is currently looking after while others are no longer under her care because their lives became better with Margret’s support. Margret grew up as a paternal orphan. Her mother did not attain any education and when she lost her husband, she decided to move to Kampala with her children because there was insecurity in the northern part of Uganda where they originally come from. Living with a single mother who did not have a formal job was not easy. People around used to consider them to be the most vulnerable family which led to their discrimination and stigmatization. Margret’s mother used to collect firewood from people’s fences in a place called Kololo and sell them to earn income while she picked wild green vegetables that she used to feed her family. Some well-wishers would give them food once in a while. When Margret got married, she used to spend most of her time alone because she felt that she cannot fit anywhere in society because of how vulnerable she was and also because of how her family was treated while growing up. She had no confidence to speak freely and rejected invitations to gatherings because she felt unworthy to be among people. Her elder sister who had been a member of Meeting Point International (MPI) died due to complications from HIV/AIDS and that is when Margret got courage to join the MPI family whose invites she had been ignoring for long because of her fears of rejection. She managed to meet with the MPI director Rose Busingye who educated her about the value and dignity of a person which is greater than sickness, poverty, riches, one’s level of education, and many other worldly things. “I was embraced by this community in a way that I felt desired yet they did not know me. I had not experienced this kind of love and so this was the beginning of my self-discovery into my value which opened up my heart and mind to the world” Margret contemplated. She used to reduce herself by the circumstances she was facing but after getting this education, she discovered that the human value and life are very precious. This guided her into looking at everyone as having the same value as herself and she started to associate more freely and embrace people in her everyday life. “Before this education from MPI, I never knew that I could make a great change in another person’s life even with the little I have. I always feel so much pain in my heart whenever I see another suffering and I wish to take their pain away.”– Margret. Discovering her value more every day widens her knowledge because she looks at everything with a gaze that is why she is giving a helping hand to the people in her community. “The way our sponsors care for us without knowing us makes me pose a question in her mind, “Who Am I?” – Margret.

She gave a recent scenario from where she is operating her small business of selling fruits with one MPI member called Beatrice. Beatrice kept running short of capital and Margret encouraged that they combine funds and buy a large box of mangoes, sell them and share the profit which they did. They started this journey in November 2020 and their business is operating well in that they are able to buy food for their children, save with the MPI savings groups, and keep little for an emergency without encroaching into their capital. Other friends who sell close to them borrowed the idea but it was not working and one of them asked Margret why theirs was a success. “They borrowed this idea from me without first knowing who they are and why they are doing it so I encouraged them to look closely at everything not for personal benefit but for the need to journey together” – Margret. In her community people are united in that when anyone is sick, you find members of MPI visiting while others manage your business till you are fit to resume.

“Margret picked me up when I felt that I was between a rock and a hard wall with no relative or family to help me and nowhere to sleep after being thrown out by the landlord. My family had rejected me and my children but Margret gave me the remaining small land beside her house and now I have a place to sleep. I am also selling mangoes to help look after my family. The MPI family is always holding my hand which gives me strength. I am now aware of my value and one of others since I have been shown a better way of living” said Akwiri Alice

In the photo above is Akongo Margret (left) and Akwiri Alice (right) standing in front of the small structure they set up for Alice. Besides it on the extreme right is Margret’s house.

Margret insists that the best way to live is by holding the other person’s hand and move together without leaving anyone behind because she believes that whoever she encounters is sent to her by God. Margret ended by saying how blessed she is to have met the MPI family because before their intervention into her life, she was always sad and worried. She thought that her children would not study beyond Primary Seven since she is not educated and was struggling to look after the family single-handedly. However, one child completed university and two are in secondary school all because she was embraced and her only wish is for all to live in this way.

In the photo above is Akongo Margret in the middle and two social workers from Meeting Point International

Written by MPI social worker

Achan Aida Agnes

01/02/2021

Story of Muleke Alex.

Embracing change in his life, a formerly defiant Alex now enjoys painting.

He uses recycled material to create attractive art and his dream is to start an art school in Kampala City.

Story by Clelia Vegezzi (Communication Officer AVSI Uganda), 30th July 2021.

Alex is one of 3,650 children supported through his education by the Distance Support Program. He is a student of art at a Kampala university, and his innovative painting is helping him provide an upkeep for his mum.

He went to school at Luigi Giussani Secondary School for six years and in 2018 he completed his secondary school level with excellent grades. Previously disinclined to stay in school, Alex Muleke gradually found the motivation in art – which became his path to continue his studies. Deep-rooted in the school’s curriculum, the teachers at Luigi Giussani Secondary School believe in the power of art and deliberately encourage students to cultivate their potential in creativity. But Alex’s strife in class angered his classmates.

“I don’t know why I didn’t want to listen, I constantly annoyed my classmates and I enjoyed it when I upset teachers.” This is how Alex, now twenty, tells of his early years at Luigi Giussani High School in Kampala.

In 2013, Alex’s mum, Loyce lost hope in her son, she suffered from an illness, she wouldn’t count on her husband for assistance for their family, and there was not enough time available to her to spend with her six children since she had to work hard to meet the expenses of her home.

The social workers at Meeting Point International helped Loyce – they provided psychological and medical support and introduced her to the activities of a group of women in Kireka slum. Loyce, encouraged by the enthusiasm of the other women soon found the determination to face her problems. She joined the group of women where they met every once a week to sing, dance and learn different skills such as weaving and financial trainings to help them manage their savings and small businesses. And from the Distance Support Program, she also received a financial contribution of school fees for her children and this time, Alex was certain he would study and shape a good future for himself and be able to help his mum one day.

“The teachers became my friends: they gave me a clear vision about my life, and I realized that I had a beautiful chance. I am talented and I soon composed myself, I paid attention during class lessons, and I began life anew.”

Today, Alex is enrolled at Kyambogo University. “When I paint I can control my thoughts. I am developing my own style with art. I like portraying people and I look for creativity in materials, in everything I touch.”

It was Alex’s passion and determination that helped his mum to face the difficult months of the lockdown imposed by the Ugandan Government to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The situation does not stop Alex’s creativity. He focuses on the emotions he experienced during his early days which he often refers to as “a strange time of his life” and his creativity prompts him to experiment on new materials using coal dust and red earth to make unique artistic pieces such as the extraordinary painting of a masked woman, a piece which brought him a new range of clients and with them the money he much needed to care for his mum and siblings.

And thanks to the help of the local organization Meeting Point International, an implementing partner of AVSI Foundation in the Distance Support project Alex has stayed on course with his education.

 

“EVEN WHEN I WAS CHASED AND DIDN’T HAVE WHERE TO STAY, I WAS HAPPY”

My name is Labol Beatrice, I am 38 years old and I come from Gulu district. I joined Meeting Point International (MPI) in 2014. I am currently staying in Kampala, Naguru with my family. We are about twelve people at home. I am the only one working, I sell fruits like mangoes and guavas. My husband used to work as a security guard but he lost his job and failed to find another. He hasn’t worked in years. Probably because of frustration, he resorted to drinking alcohol. This has now left me with all the responsibilities at home. Life has generally been a struggle for me. With the emergence of COVID-19, it came about with its complications which toughened everything. Since I am the only person working, I have been taking care of all necessities in the house like paying rent, school requirements, medical bills, buying food, and many other things. All these responsibilities became so hard and I felt a lot of pressure. To make everything worse, the coronavirus came in and there was a lockdown that was imposed in the country. It became hard to do my activities. When it was imposed, I only had Ugsh 40,000. I was seeing other people doing a lot of shopping so as they can have some food in their houses but I didn’t have enough money to stock food as well. With the little money that I had, I bought 2 kgs of maize flour and a kilogram of beans. I knew that we were going to go some days without food but I would at least be able to make some porridge for my children with the flour I bought. I was worried about how we were going to face this whole period of lockdown. But good enough, people that sell food items like me and many others were allowed to work. Big trucks that transport food, were also allowed to operate. I saw some hope in this. I would walk from my home in Naguru to Kampala center every morning to purchase mangoes and other fruits to sell. I would put them on a motorcycle (Bodaboda) then I would foot back to Naguru. I couldn’t board any car because public transport was not allowed to operate, however, motorcycles were allowed to deliver food and other necessities. My business was very slow because many people were not working and also the strict restrictions put in place limited people from walking. This meant that I had very few customers and hence I was getting little money. I was earning little and yet I had very many responsibilities. All the children were now home and I had to feed them. At least when schools were open, they could eat from there. I was also behind rent dues with very many months. The landlord was not happy with me and so he decided to chase me out of the house. He wanted to throw me out immediately but I pleaded with him to give me some more time, he took this issue to the local chairperson of our village. The chairperson managed to convince him to at least give me two weeks so as I could get where to stay. In these two weeks, I was very stressed and uncertain of where next I would go. But salvation came to me in different forms, one; is that one of the women in the community understood my situation and decided to rent me a small piece of land at a small fee, she gave me enough time to pay her the rent fee. Where I was chased from, I was paying Ugsh 250,000 monthly but in this new place, I am paying Ugsh 75,000 monthly. I decided to construct a one-roomed house with wood so as at least we could have where to stay. The other form of salvation is that I wasn’t alone in this moment, some women from MPI like Adong Christine (Akongo Margret) helped me. They provided me with money and other things that I needed. I was also counseled, even when I was chased and didn’t have where to stay, I was happy” When all hope was lost, I had people around me who took care of me. In fact, I wanted to go back to the village because I couldn’t handle the situation here in Kampala. But Rose and other women encouraged me not to go to the village and they were there for me. Without this company, I could have given up and gone back to the village where life is probably simpler than here in Kampala. With the people around me who helped me, I became less stressed, I became free!

I want to tell everyone that they shouldn’t lose hope in whatever situation they are facing. The darker times always come to pass; you shouldn’t reduce yourself to what you are facing now because there is always hope for a brighter future. What I have learned from being a member of MPI is that togetherness is very important. You shouldn’t despise anyone or refuse to associate yourself with people. These are the people who will always help you even when you have a problem like I was helped. You should also always learn how to help out a friend in need because however bad someone is; they have a value!

Compiled by Adoch Mary Clare

02/02/2021

A HOPE THAT SPRUNG FORTH FROM ONE THROUGH A RELATIONSHIP WITH THE OTHER.

My name is Kawuki Micheal, 40years old and a teacher at Luigi Giussani High School (LGHS) since 2010. I was asked to become the deputy headteacher that same year of 2010 and in 2014 I became the headteacher. Being a teacher here made me discover who I am and the meaning of work. I came to realize that I am not simply Kawuki but behind this face, there is Someone greater and this is what makes me who I am, for this I am able to look at my students beyond the subjects I teach them, to look at them as human beings who desire to be happy and loved like me. We are all the same with the same needs but the only difference is that I am an adult in front of them.

Last year, in 2020 March when the lockdown was imposed and it was said that schools should close for twenty-one days, both the teachers and students were happy because we thought it was going to be an opportunity to have a small vacation. But those three weeks turned out to be dark because of the uncertainty brought about by the coronavirus. After those three weeks, the same amount of time for the lockdown was added as well. People were losing their jobs, the living conditions at home worsened, more people were dying around the world and for students, hopes of schools being opened was minimal. One day, Seve (educational advisor at LGHS) called proposing a meeting with the Headteacher’s council (HTC) that is composed of five members.  Public transport was closed so we used to have these meetings through google meet. It was through these meetings that we got hope to see the faces of one another. I realised that it is not easy to come out of a dark moment without the other, I remain rotating around it.  But with someone else, he/ she can help me point in the direction where the light is. For us, this person was Seve, we followed him, without following, I am very limited.  Through these HTC meetings, we decided to reach all the teachers asking them to prepare self-s

tudy materials. By April, all teachers were available to make the materials ready not simply to make the students busy but to enable them to learn even from home.  We started giving out this work in May. Transport was paralysed at that moment so some of the places had become far especially Naguru. But for me, the distance didn’t matter, what mattered were the students who had spent months without studying. I accepted that what I was doing was no longer simply a job that earned me money but a vocation, I realised it was my call to help these young people, to bring out who exactly they are. After some months of giving out the materials, we realised that we need to see the faces of our students and to find out how they are doing. We were worried about the boys and girls but especially the girls who were at a high risk of getting pregnant. They were also tired of getting the work and they were losing hope. As the HTC team, we decided to go to the homes of each one of them. They were very happy to see us. Through our faces, they regained hope. Them looking at our faces, that gaze that loved them was an opportunity for them to come back to themselves but also for us to come back to ourselves. We wanted them to know that they are not alone though they were not coming to school, that we were thinking about them and everything we were doing was for them though also for us. The environment where the students live is not very conducive, they can easily be cheated or confused by some people in it. But with our encounter with them, they managed to live through what they faced with hope. The school has now started for some classes and we are glad that we haven’t gotten any cases of pregnancies. We are also happy that for the classes at school, almost all of them are back which is an achievement for us considering the high levels of drop outs country wide. When the students got back, we could vividly tell that they were scared because of the impacts of the virus and the life that had changed. The senior fours had to do exams in four months’ time and yet they had a lot to do. They were not used to waking up early in the morning anymore. It would be useless to ask them where we stopped with the learning ten months ago. With the fear they had, they were not going to be able to learn anything. The first thing we did was to start by having dialogues with them about life, how they faced COVID-19 and the lockdown and the experiences they have had. We provoked them to ask questions about life. For us, this was a starting point to help them adapt to the system of school they had not been in for many months. With the information, we were getting from them was one way to know where to start from, how to help them start because they were not the same anymore. The important thing was to listen to them and help them start. There is a big difference between education and teaching. Teaching is within education. In education, I handle the whole person, am not going to give my own idea to the student but am going to try to bring out what is within the student. You have to be fully involved and listen. If I instead go to teach, I leave out the biggest aspect of the student. The teachers were supposed to be ready to face the students. We were not idle during the lockdown period, we were having training and workshops which kept us refreshed. If we were not ready, it means we were not going to be able to handle the students.

For me, this lockdown period taught me that in following, you make no mistake. Follow a person who has that gaze, who already realised this gaze. Most importantly, we don’t give hope but looking at particular faces, hope comes back again.

Compiled by Adoch Mary Clare

21/03/2021

HAVING BEEN LOVED, I LOVED!

My name is Ateng Beatrice (fake name). I live together with my children, grandchildren and husband in Banda B1 commonly known as Acholi quarters (AQ). My family is made up of 15 members. I have eleven children of my own, some of them are now married and staying in their homes. I make paper beads to earn a living. My husband Okello (fake name) works as a security guard. I come from the northern part of Uganda, particularly Kitgum district. We moved to Kampala in 1991 where we first settled at Kasokoso then later moved to AQ where we are up to now. At that time, AQ was very unhygienic, you could move and find human wastes everywhere. No rich person could want to come here. But then I saw Rose (MPI director) coming to AQ and I wondered why she kept on doing so because she looked beautiful and rich. She would come and take care of the sick people, move up to the stone quarry and help people there as well. I really admired her for this and I kept on asking myself who she is. At that time, life was very hard for me, I had many children to take care of, we were doing stone quarrying with them, they were not going to school and we had no food. I then joined MPI in 2003 and they started to support me. My children started to go to school, I joined beads for life where I was able to make more money, I joined the saving’s group and my standards of living really improved. I was really in awe as to how someone you are not related to and doesn’t know you can love and support you.

In July 2010, as we came back from one of the saving’s meetings meeting at night, we found very many people gathered near my home. There was a baby that had been abandoned. It was covered in mud and other dirt that had dried up and really made the skin hard. The baby looked like it would pass on at any time because it’s breathing was uneven and it really looked very fragile. I figured out that she might be feeling cold since she had been left in the cold for a long. I went home and got a coat that we used for wrapping her up. People had decided to take this baby to the L.C.1 Mr Bongomin but in my mind, I had decided that I would take care of this child. You can only ignore a non-living thing like a tin and other things but you can’t ignore human life because it is of great value. If MPI had helped me and still helping out a lot of people, I could do this for another human being. Although I was poor and didn’t have a lot, my heart was really moved for this child and that it why I wanted to help her. This baby was eventually taken to Mr. Bongomin’s place and he decided that they should take this child to police. I was carrying this baby, I just decided to carry it home, my husband followed me and am glad that he didn’t question me about my decision, he supported me instead. When I reached home, I had to bath the baby, I had to bath her for long because of the mud that was stuck on her skin. At that time, I was breastfeeding my last born so I could breastfeed this child as well. After a while, I had to stop because I was told to first find out the health status of this child. My husband then started supporting me by buying milk for her. From his job, money for milk was being deducted from his monthly salary. When people in my community saw that I was taking care of this child, they started to criticize and abuse me for taking care of her because I already had very many children myself and I wasn’t rich either. I didn’t mind so much about what they said because what mattered is that my heart was moved for this child and God works with a heart that is moved. I knew I wouldn’t lack when it came to the necessities of this child. My elder children loved this child so much that they could do casual work to provide for her anything she wanted. When this child reached two years old, she was then registered to start school with the support of MPI.

After some years, I started to support another child called Bob (fake name) because he was staying a bit far from school (Luigi Giussani Pre-primary and Primary School) and his mother couldn’t really manage to take care of him. Rose asked the women who could take care of this child and I decided to do so. This child has become a part of my family though he is from another tribe. He went back to stay with his mother after some time but he still has a place in my family and he comes to visit us.

I have been able to do these things because I learnt from Rose, she is taking care of a lot of children and she doesn’t even know them. If she is able to do so, then am also able to love and care for other people because we both have the same value. Am glad that I met Rose, MPI because I was loved, and in turn have been able to love others. I have learnt a lot and grown.

Compiled by Adoch Mary Clare

25/02/2021

SUCCESS STORY FOR ABER GRACE

 

I am Aber Grace a 43-year-old married woman living with my family of 14 members in a three-roomed house in Naguru slum, Kampala. I stay with my husband Denis, 6 biological children and the rest are children I welcomed into my home. When I was growing up, I always loved helping others and sharing things with them. I got married to Denis whose wife had abandoned with four children and his youngest child at that time was only 3years old. I embraced them and took care of them as my own. I joined Meeting Point International (MPI) and I was able to meet Rose the director who educated my heart even more about the human value. “My entire family was welcomed, loved and cared for by MPI and I still continue to ask myself who I’m that I am looked at in this special way by people who do not know me. This has guided me more to welcome people wherever I go because it is a beautiful way of living. I am not afraid of what we shall eat or if we will fit in our small house because I choose to live in the moment that God has placed in front of me” – Aber Grace.

A few years back, my husband was not happy with how I was welcoming people into our home because of our low family income. It brought wrangles between us but I continued to respectfully educate him as to why I was doing this. It is lovely that he is now very welcoming to these children and keeps encouraging me to bring them home since he understood the value of a human being that I had always been emphasizing. I am a cook in a school while Denis does casual work so we mainly live off daily income but we are very happy. Rose continuously teaches us that our human value is greater than sickness, poverty, richness, race, ability or disability. “When your heart is moved, you find yourself doing things that makes other people wonder what kind of heart you have yet it is just that you let your heart be with what it was made for” – Aber Grace.

One of the children I welcomed is Muliisa Sam, a 28years old Rwandese refugee who lost both parents when they were still living in Ntungamo (Western Uganda). He is also a graduate from the University. “I was working as a security guard at a construction site but unfortunately, there was a robbery and I was held accountable. I was arrested and spent some good time in Luzira Prison. When I was released, my family and friends did not welcome me back, all my academic documents and National Identification card (ID) were all stolen from the house that I had been living in before. My life was very hard but I happened to meet Grace while in the community and told her the story of my life. She welcomed me, gave me a home, food and told me not to worry about anything. Her husband helped me get another ID and I am slowly following the process to be able to get back all my documents. I have never felt so loved and welcomed to the point that this home is a rehabilitation centre for me. Grace’s entire family is united and we care for one another” – Muliisa Sam.

The other child is Mutagambwa Aloysius, a 20-year-old Mukiga by tribe. He came from Kabale (Western Uganda) with a truck carrying bananas (matooke) which they were to supply in Naguru Go-down market (Kampala). He was working as a casual labourer but he was left behind by the truck yet it was his first time in Kampala and did not know anyone. He resorted to sleeping under a stall in the market for about a month when the people around reported to the local authorities. Grace’s husband heard about Aloysius and brought him home. “I have been welcomed by a family that loves and cares for me even without knowing me and I wish to stay with them forever for. I try to help her with any work around because there is no way I can ever repay her for this love and care.” – Aloysius.

Amito Lucy a 14year old has been under Grace’s care since 2018. Lucy was living with her paternal grandmother within Naguru but the time came andshe was chased on allegations that she was indisciplined and lazy. She then started sleeping on verandas of bars yet Naguru which is very unsafe. Lucy used to hung around the school where Grace cooks food and was noticed because she was always very dirty and looked sad. Grace started feeding Lucy and tried to reunite her with her grandmother in vain. Since they were not welcomed on several occasions, Grace took up looking after Lucy and is happy that Lucy has also been enrolled under MPI’s Distance Support Program to attain a good education. “For all this time I have been with Lucy, she is disciplined, hardworking and relates well with the rest of the family not as I had been told before.” – Grace.

Okello Richard, a 19 year old boy who is a paternal orphan has been living with me since 2017 because his mother was having difficulty pushing him through school and providing for the family needs. Richard’s mother is a neighbour to Grace’s family in their home village. Richard sat for his senior four final examinations (Uganda Certificate of Education) recently from Luigi Giussani High School. This has been possible through support from Meeting Point International and also because of the relationship that Grace created with him which brought him close to us. ”My mother is the happiest because she never saw me obtaining a good education. Grace whom I look at as my second mother has loved me from way back and still continues to make me feel like her son which is very special to me. I may not be related to her by blood but this kind of heart is more special and it is keeping us together.” – Richard.

In the photo above from left to right are Amito Lucy (in yellow), Aber Grace, Muliisa Sam (male in the back), Akello Mercy (front left), Mutagambwa Aloysius (striped shirt) and Denis (extreme right). Mercy and Denis are Grace’s step children whom she has lived with for many years. These are some of the children we found available at home.

Grace and her husband are living happily with this big family and she commented that although things have not been easy for them, God has always watched over them and they are surviving happily. “I encourage everyone one else to allow their hearts to be educated by what Rose is doing because I personally feel a lot of joy in my heart when I am there for others. I always feel pain when someone else is suffering because I imagine if it were me or my child being in that same situation” – Grace.

Compiled by Hope Clare Lakaraber

01st February 2021

 

A COMPANIONISHIP RE-AFFIRMING MY VALUE.

A COMPANIONSHIP RE-AFFIRMING MY VALUE.

My name is Aduke Christine and I am 35 years old, I joined Meeting Point International (MPI) in 2011, I have now been a member for nine years now. I come from Kaberamaido in the Eastern part of Uganda, am a kumam by tribe but I speak Acholi language as well. My husband is called Labeja Carlos and he is an Acholi from Agago district in the northern part of Uganda. I got to learn Acholi from his family members. I stay with Carlos, my young sister (Lucy 14years) and my two children (Sandra 11 years and Emma 5years). We stay in Kireka D. I met Carlos several years back when I was still at school, I was in senior four by then. I got pregnant and gave birth to Sandra, I didn’t go back to school again. I started to stay with him from then onwards. Living with Carlos was not bad, we would have arguments and fights but we would solve them. However, in 2019, we had a major fight, he beat me up, abused me verbally and chased me from his place. There was no place I was left to go to other than my parents’ home that is in Kireka D.

My parents gave me little money to hire a small pickup car and collect my belongings, for Lucy and my children. We were staying in Kireka C by then when Carlos abused me. My parents welcomed me into their house but living there as an adult was very hard since, in most of our cultures, a grown woman is supposed to be in her home regardless of the problems she is facing. Around the same period, I was having problems with Carlos, I also lost my job. I was working at Darling, a company that makes hair products. This made life harder. Even with these problems I was facing, I would still attend the weekly meetings that the women of MPI would have with Rose. But I had quickly turned from the lively woman I used to be during the meetings to a shell of that. I would go for the meetings, sit and just look on. I was very depressed and stressed out. What made it even harder is that I heard Carlos had got another woman.  I would sit and watch other women, they all looked happy like they were not facing any problems. Soon they noticed that I wasn’t happy, I then narrated to them what I was facing. Most of them shared with me the problems that they were having and I realised that some of them had bigger and more problems than I did. What perplexed me is that they still managed to remain happy amidst the problems.

I was counselled by some of them, the social workers like Jackie and Teddy, and aunt Rose who reminded me of my value. All these made me stronger and able to face the hardships I was facing without reducing myself to them. With this new awareness, life became simpler for me. I now concentrated on making myself a better person. My mother suggested that I should join in in her business. She brews local alcohol commonly known as ‘marua’ here in Uganda. I agreed to her suggestion and joined her business. I then started to save every coin through the saving groups that we have, I was doing this on a weekly basis. In January 2020, through the savings I got, I managed to buy a small piece of land in Kireka D close to my parents’ home. I continued to work hard to save some money so as I could construct a house for myself. My mother supported me as well, she lent me some money to help me with my plans. Within some months, I had started constructing my one-roomed house. When I was almost finished with it, my husband heard that life was getting better for me and he decided to meet me. He apologised for what he did to me and wanted us to get back together. I really hesitated to have him back in my life and it took some time before I really forgave him but I finally did. I forgave him because of the teachings that I had received from the meetings with Rose and other women. I also couldn’t imagine myself with another man besides the father of my children considering my age as well. My heart was free and whatever he didn’t make me become a bitter person because I knew my value. He requested to participate in constructing the house though I had done most of the work already.  He provided money for cementing it and connecting electricity into it. Today, I eat and even get satisfied, this is because I open and close my door for myself with no query from anyone. My husband works as a window and door fitter, he now provides some support for the family. We are planning to expand the house when we get some money so as we can have a bedroom as well.

I noticed that when the relationship between me and my husband changed, my children also became happier. One of them called Sandra, changed so much. When we used to fight a lot with my husband, she would cry and even refuse to eat. Her social worker noticed that she was always sad and less lively compared to other children. But when we sorted out things with my husband, she became happy, livelier and she opened up a lot. She is now able to express herself much better than she could before. I then realised that the relationship parents have with each other really affects our children.

Everyone needs a shoulder that they can lean on in times of need because a problem will never overcome or suffocate you if you are really attached to someone who loves you and helps you realise your human value and dignity. One that can encourage, advise and always welcomes you at all times. For me, I have Meeting Point International and this is where I belong.

Compiled by Adoch Mary Clare

28/01/2021

OYELLA CATHERINE’S LETTER

Ciao friends!

My name is Oyella Catherine, a member of Meeting Point International, an organization that has educated my heart. How are you? “Fine” has become the least used word for these past months because of the havoc created by COVID 19. Every day, we are awakened to this terrible reality that many want to escape but unfortunately can’t because reality is the Master. Greeted by news of terror, of the ever-increasing numbers of victims taken by the virus that neither spares the young nor the old.

Through all this, I have been pushed to ask myself of that preference of still being healthy and alive, that you and I are getting now. And who is preferring you this instance? To be sincere, this period has strengthened my relationship with He who creates me (Christ). I now use my heart more to judge things happening before my eyes. With this, I have learnt that Christ has not abandoned us through these hard times and I am certain of this.

It is hard to hear of all this lockdown, increasing victims, curfew, and related terms (words) but with Christ, all become beautiful to me and I hope it does for you too. Thanks friends, and stay safe.

Yours faithfully,

OYELLA CATHERINE.

(In the photo is Oyella Catherine with her lastborn son, Lakony Marco)

“THROUGH BEAUTY, THE CURIOSITY IS BECOMING A METHOD FOR US TO BECOME ADULT.” – SEVE

“THROUGH BEAUTY, THE CURIOSITY IS BECOMING A METHOD FOR US TO BECOME ADULT.” – SEVE

(Hello Seve! I am aware that you started to do some activities with the kids of the Welcoming House. I would like to understand what you are doing, your experience here, and how this desire to come here was born in you, that is, the origin of your experience here?)

My name is Matteo Severgnini.  I am the Education Advisor at Luigi Giussani High School (LGHS).

I think that this experience started many months ago during the lockdown, when Michael Kawuki (LGHS Head Teacher), Joseph Wandera (Deputy Head Teacher), Betty (Teacher), Marceline (Director of Studies) and I, decided to go and visit our students one by one, knocking on their doors especially in Kireka and Naguru. We went there because we wanted to visit them at home, and that was a great surprise for us. It was also full of emotions because many children were so happy to see us and many of them, were telling us: “We are blessed to see you because now we know that there is still hope for us: We belong to someone.” While they were saying this, I felt that I too was belonging to someone. We were so happy after those visits, and we decided to have a meeting and lunch with Rose (MPI director) at my home. We wanted to tell her about what we saw and to judge together what had happened because it was something great and beautiful. We also wanted to share the challenges we found out among our students at their homes in order to find some solutions and hypotheses. When we started to tell her about our worries, Rose stopped us and challenged us in a very incredible way: “Okay! What you saw, is very important and also the problems are quite important. We need to face them, for this reason, I am asking you to write me a report. But I want to ask you a question. How many schools in the world do you know that have been doing these kinds of visits? Really, how many schools in your opinion, are going out encountering and meeting their own students one by one at their homes?” She continued: “If you don’t understand the origin of your experience, also the consequences will die very soon. The most important thing is to understand what and who managed to move your heart and made you move and visit your students.” This was a great discovery for us because it was true, we were not aware of the origin of our action. While we were thinking and being challenged by this question, we thought that the only point that moved our hearts was the fact that we are loved. That Michael, Betty, Joseph, Marceline and I, have been living and we are living a love that is for free and that was the origin that pushed us also to go and visit our students. There is someone (who we are saying is Christ), that is loving us so much and pushed us to go and visit all our students. I was struck because I am always thinking that the revolutionary thing is what I can do. Instead, the revolutionary thing, the novelty, is the One that is conquering my heart, that is moving my heart to go and visit all my students. So, since that lunch, a seed entered in my heart because while we were visiting our students, we came once also here to the Welcoming House to stay with the children for one full day. I found myself belonging to this place! During that very lunch after this provocation of Rose, I asked her: “Rose, if I must follow what is happening to my life, I would like also to go to Welcoming House to visit these friends of mine. I would like to stay once a week with them because I think that staying with them, is also another way for me to discover the One that is conquering my heart. I also asked my Headteacher and the other administrators of the school permission to absent myself once a week from school. They said, “for us, it is fine because if you are doing something that is helping you, we believe it can also be something that is helping Luigi Giussani High School.” Starting from there, I decided to come here every Friday morning at 9:30 am. We do study together up to 12:30 or 1 pm and after, we usually watch cartoons together up to 2 pm. All the assignments and lessons that we are doing are related to the cartoons that we are watching. We study English and Mathematics, having in mind the cartoon. This is the origin or the reason as to why I have been coming here for the last two months.

In these past 2 months, what struck me the most is that all of us, are made to be happy. Whenever I am entering that gate, the way that the kids are welcoming me is so beautiful because they are so happy. The second thing that struck me is that this happiness comes from the fact that there is a relationship. They are always waiting for me and on the other side, I am also waiting for them. Every Friday morning, I am very happy to know that I am coming here. The third thing is that we are made for something great in life and for this reason, there is a kind of seriousness with which we are doing our assignments. And why should we be serious with our task? Because we perceive that also this small task that we are facing every Friday, that is, Mathematics and English, these simple exercises are done to become adult, that is, to grow. Facing small tasks with heart is helping us to understand that the task in life is deep. We are made for something great. And the other thing is that the curiosity to grow is helped by beautiful things, for this reason, we decided to watch every Friday a cartoon that is not just a simple cartoon. Usually, they are very meaningful cartoons. We are watching Toy Story, which is an animated cartoon about belongingness. And we are watching Kung Fu Panda, that is instead about discovering that life is given for something great because Someone made us with this greatness. In order to be great, you need to have friends. Through beauty, curiosity is becoming a method for us to become an adult.

(How has this experience here helped you to do your work at LGHS?)

What I am facing here is helping me at LGHS but also, it is true the opposite! The work at school is helping me to come here as well because life is one. Let me say that the work that I am doing at school, is helping me for example, to be faithful to this moment because when I am here with these 40 kids, I have always in mind this point, “But if Michael, Wandera, Betty, and Marceline were here, in which way would they face this moment?” These people, though they are not here, are helping me to stay with these kids. From here, I am learning a simplicity of belongingness, because all these kids, the thing that they really show me, is that in order to live, you need to belong. All these kids while we are doing assignments together, they are always depending on you in the sense that they are looking for you, maybe to do 2+2 =4. They are there with you, depending on you, and following you. This is a kind of simplicity of saying, “I belong to you, and if I don’t belong to you, I am not even able to do 2+2.” I need this kind of simple awareness in belonging, that is the real freedom.

Thank you.

Story compiled by Vicent.

(13Th November 2020)

THIS KIND OF GAZE SAVES EVERYTHING FOR ME!

My name is Lugamba Vicent, a child of Meeting Point International (MPI). I stay in Naguru, one of the cultural centers of MPI. I stay with 2 brothers Jimmy Torach and Francis Munvaneza, and another adult Emmanuel Kintu, our guardian. We are not specifically of the same tribe or lineage but we’re brothers linked together by a heartfelt relationship which was born from an encounter with Meeting Point International (MPI) and we’re a happy family.

I joined MPI in 2013, it found me hopeless especially about my studies due to the fact that my mother, a single parent, could not manage to pay for me in a secondary school. My father had run away from his responsibilities ever since 2005 up to now, because of alcoholism which had created a lot of violence at home. Therefore, it was our mother toiling and moiling to put food on the table. It was not easy but she always did her best. When I finished primary school in 2012, it seemed impossible to join high school and I was left in front of the face of uncertainty. During that moment of uncertainty about my future, God surprises me with a gift of Aunt Rose who offered to take me to school and I was taken to a very beautiful school, Luigi Giussani high school, in 2013. Here I experienced a lot of beauty and a different kind of education that embraced the whole of me. It was not only an education to get a good job in the future but one that introduced me to the totality of life. I spent 6 years in high school and finished in 2018. In this new family, I always feel loved, important and hopeful. The way she gazed at me at first sight was different yet very attractive, she embraced me as her own like she had known me for years! There is a kind of freedom I have attained in being a son to this family. I am now pursuing a degree in dental surgery at Makerere University. Ever since 2013, it has been a continual journey of discovering myself and the truth about reality. This is helping me to live life responsibly. I now have many mothers, that is, the women of meeting point international, who are embracing me always as their biological son and are educating me a lot through their simplicity and openness in their hearts.

let me share with you one of the things that struck me and educated me at the same time during the period of COVID-19 total lockdown of the country. In that period, almost everyone was hit down financially and it was only survival for the fittest especially for the low-income earners. Everyone was struggling to get something to provide for their families, and whatever little thing they managed to get, it was theirs and could not share with anyone because it was little. This seemed cogent to me, but here comes a very different experience that reawakened me and proposed an attractive way of living, a different mentality and a new knowledge.
At a certain point during the lockdown, the government decided to distribute some food to sustain people in different areas. However, it was a struggle to get this offer due to a lot of corruption among the trusted food distributors, this also affected us and we did not receive the offer despite the fact that we had been registered for it. A few days after that event, about four women of MPI came on different days to visit us and shared with us the little food they had received from the government. They did not know that we had missed but they still thought about us! This was a great provocation to me and left me naïve because, in the first place, I knew that it is by having much that we can give. Instead, for the mothers, it is very clear that no man has nothing to offer. It is not about being rich or poor, having much or little, but it is about the heart and a relationship with another (you are our children) and living and offering yourself for the one you love. This experience educated me a lot and arose in me an urgent admiration for their eye in front of reality because this kind of eye saves every moment and everything. I am thankful to God who embraces me every instant through this family of Meeting Point International, I do not take for granted this gift of belonging. Indeed, we are one heart and we are international. I know there are a thousand “thank you’s” from the so many lives you have touched in many ways. Thank you Aunt Rose for embracing me always as a son.

( In the photo is Jimmy to the left, Francis in the middle and Vicent to the right)

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

 

“I thank God that He gave me you” – Aron

Aron dances with his sister Priscilla

Ciao Aunt Rose,

Hope you are well, I write this to tell you that I am very happy and thankful for everything that is now happening in my life, first of all for my new contract 2020, secondly for the love and care that you have shown me, thirdly for loving my family and lastly for not being only a Director but friend. Every day I ask myself where I would be if I didn’t meet Meeting point international, where would I be if I didn’t meet Aunt Rose <maybe I would even have become nobody, maybe drunkard, maybe a thief or even a drug user but Meeting Point international gave me a new life, a starting point for me and my family and a new chance to live again with a reason and a meaning. A lot of challenges and bad things has been happening in my life and in the life of my siblings in the past years, for example, the loss of both my parents that broke us down completely to zero, we became hustlers that we could do any job just to survive and to pay for home bills which weren’t the case before. I was lost, broken and hopeless. All my relatives run away from us thinking that we are just a burden. But now see, we are still here pushing on with life and we can still afford to live tomorrow, I thank God the He gave me you and you gave me life and were to start from and you introduced me to a group of people who even don’t know who I am but love more and more. For sure working with Meeting Point International has made me somebody today, the education that I have received and still receiving from you, Alberto and the movement is very beautiful. The new friends that I have met in the movement and in the office have changed my life and have given me joy. Now my family has met a new family that loves them. Finally, we have found a place to belong.

Thank you, Aunt Rose.

Aron Wokorach.

ANYWAR RICHARD’S STORY

ANYWAR RICHARD’S STORY

It was on 22/01/2020 when Anywar Richard one of the children once under the DSP support came with his mother Angwech Mary to MPI main office in Kitintale. His mother told Aunt Rose the director of MPI that her son takes too much alcohol that has made him fall sick. He was really badly off with his hands wounded and he was so weak. Angwech had no money to treat him but when she approached Aunt Rose she was advised to take Richard to Butabika hospital.

Therefore, Aunt Rose requested me to accompany Richard to the hospital. When we reached Butabika, we managed to see the doctor who asked him questions. She asked him how much quantity of waragi (alcohol) he took per day, the good thing he was open and told her everything. He said he could not count how much since he begins drinking very early in the morning until midnight and begins every day. The doctor asked him whether he smokes and he said he smokes mjanji a Tobacco for Indians. The doctor also asked him where he gets money for buying it because it’s expensive, but he didn’t give an answer. Then the doctor decided to admit him in the Alcohol and Drug unit and he accepted. When I went back to check on him after five days, there was a big change. The wounds had dried up, he was very happy and he promised me that he will never drink alcohol or smoke again. He told me that doctors counseled him well. I also got a chance to talk to the doctor and he told me that they gave him good counseling and they were very happy about his response. He was on medication and he looked very okay. The doctors were also very happy because he was helping them to carry patients who disturbed them. I Left the hospital and promised to pick him on 3/02/2020 the day the doctor suggested that he would be discharged.

Anywar poses for a photo

On 3rd 02, 2020 I went back to pick Richard from the hospital. I went with some clothes and shoes that Aunt Rose gave me to take to him. In fact, they were of great help because the clothes and shoes that he went with had been torn by the other patients (the mad people). He was dressed in the uniform of patients. When I reached there they had changed him to another ward of the patients who be waiting to be discharged. One patient took me there and when Richard saw me from a distance, he came out with a big smile and welcomed me well and showed me his hands that had completely healed. The wounds had dried completely and his body was ok. He told me he wants to go out of the hospital and appreciate Aunt Rose for what she has done for him and promise her that he will never take alcohol again. Then on that very day, he was discharged from the hospital and went to his home in Kireka, Banda B1. Therefore on the next day 4/02/2020 on a Tuesday, We had a women’s meeting in Kireka where he also joined us, knelt down before Aunt Rose and appreciated her and promised her that he will never drink alcohol or to smoke Mjanji anymore.  He said he has been working in a club but he will never go back because he may be tempted to drink again. He is looking for a job in order to take care of his family. Richard has a wife and two children.  He is not renting since he stays in the house of his father.

I would like to thank Aunt Rose for her efforts towards helping Richard though the rest of the society had abandoned him for his character. With Aunt Rose, he was not reduced to that and this helped him to at least understand value of his life as he even promised to stop drinking Alcohol. We hope that this awareness will stay with him forever in order for him to live a better life. However, for continued checkups, the doctors advised that I take back Richard on 3rd March so they can review him farther. I also appreciate the doctors of Butabika for the care they gave to Richard.

From Kabanyana Jackline, a social worker of MPI.

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

“There is nothing I can do to pay for this love”-Ocaka Goldie

I came to Kampala only to be safe from the rebels (LRA) who killed and abducted so many of my village mates in the early 2000s, I was living with my grandmother in the slums of Banda, life was really threatening because she didn’t have work yet we had to survive so I started stone quarrying and later attending a government school where we were asked for little money. But even this little money was a problem to find and I was always chased away from school for not being able to pay it. The problem worsened because that money kept on increasing termly and my grandmother couldn’t afford to pay it anymore so I eventually dropped out school when I was in Primary 5.

Left to Right: Rose Busingye, Ocaka Goldie, Bongomin Teddy and Akello Florence (Ocaka’s Mother) celebrate his graduation at  Meeting Point International (MPI) Kireka.

That was the time my parents came to Kampala; this is the period when my mother heard of Meeting Point International (MPI) and started attending the weekly meetings. Later I was enrolled in a project that supported us for three years and that meant I was going to complete primary school; I was very happy that at least I would complete primary though my desire to study didn’t stop. During my vacation after primary school, I crushed stones with the hope of joining secondary level and I even gathered enough money to join one of the affordable secondary schools around (Mbuya college). I started the first term well but in the second term things weren’t easy because I didn’t have the money anymore. My family spoke to the school so that I paid the fees in installments and this happened until I completed senior one. I was the first in my class and the school didn’t want me to leave but it was during this time (2010) that Luigi Giussani High School began.

Acro-yoga: Ocaka (second from the right) during acro-yoga sessions every Saturday at MPI Kireka

So I was again enrolled by MPI and this time I got a sponsor called Anna Targa Mietta, she supported me till I completed high school and I joined the Institute of Certified Public Accountant of Uganda where I did ATD (Accountant Technician Diploma), I still didn’t believe I was  going to receive a certificate of education until I  received an email from my school saying I was among those who were going to graduate in March 2019. Without MPI and Anna this wouldn’t be possible, forever I will live to remember MPI and Anna because they did for me something beyond my imagination, I feel am preferred and loved by MPI (Aunt Rose) more than even my own people. I didn’t pay a coin for all these achievements, this is not common in most of the Non-Government Organizations in Uganda, MPI is very special.

Tina is lifted up by Ocaka during the Acro-yoga sessions.

They treated me as a value and loved me as Ocaka and I feel there is nothing I can do to pay for this love because I feel nothing is enough. Just feel so unworthy, But I will only try to my capacity to be myself. I thank God and Aunt Rose so much for preferring me and pray that He blesses her in her life. She has also given me work in her office and still this lives me with silence in my heart because who am I to now work in an office God. I thank God that made me meet MPI and Rose because they changed the story of life.

FROM DREAMING TO BEING A DOCTOR TO AGRI-BUSINESS

In Uganda generally, the youth prefer to study the advanced level in secondary and then head to the university compared to studying in a vocational institute. Okeny Christopher, after completing senior 4 started doing Agri-business, which is not usual. Christopher tells us his story of this new path he is making;

By Okello Marvin, 1.4.2019

I am Okeny Christopher and I finished my senior 4 in 2017. From when I was a child, I wanted to become a doctor. My sister was working with Dettol (Soap making company), she was supplying different government hospitals. I used to go with her and I could see patients, so I got an interest in becoming a health worker.

Initially you were not doing agribusiness, what were you doing before, how did you end up doing agribusiness?

After senior 4, I decided to branch to a nursing school in Jinja and at first my parents didn’t agree because my grades were good, so they expected me to continue to the advanced level in Ugandan secondary schools. To reduce the burden of expenses on my father, I did an interview in order to get a government scholarship, prior to that I was sponsored by Reach Out Uganda but the program had ended. After that, since I was a good football player, I had a full bursary under football.

After that, I had succeeded in getting the government scholarship and they had requested for 1 million Ugandan Shillings for requirements. I got this money with the help of two of my uncles and my father. But then my sister was to sit for her final paper before she could graduate, she hadn’t yet paid her tuition then my mother and young sister were sick, so my father had to use that money collected for my requirements. This culminated into me going to school 2 weeks late. I discovered that the school administration had given my place to someone else. One of the instructors who saw me during the Interview told me that I could go and study at Mbale, the newly opened branch but no longer on government scholarship and that was going to cost more than two million shillings so I couldn’t make it. That’s when I started losing hope on that dream to become a doctor.

I began doing small works as I waited for my father to return the money. During the time of election, I met Madam Teddy who was campaigning to become the LC1 in our area. She didn’t win. After the elections, she called us and invited us to go to Rwanda. I could not miss the chance! It was organized by Madam Rose and Teddy, we went to Kibeho were the Virgin Mary appeared to some students in a school. When we came back, I had no plans and hope, the money needed to study was about 3 million. So, I began to do work where I was paid in a range of 10-15 thousand Ugandan shillings. I always sent the money I got to the village to do some farming.

I was doing agriculture in a minor way. In the village we have fertile land so my mother always planted cassava and sweet potatoes, generally food crops and she sold to harvest in Kampala to earn besides making beads and crushing stones. So, I also acquired that skill from her and I also started planting crops in the village through the villagers. I did it for some good time and I was making some money.

Was it hard for you to switch to Agri-business since you had other dreams?

It was not hard for me to switch from my dreams of becoming a doctor to Agri-business. I had already started doing agriculture by sending money for farming to the village. If I fail to become a doctor to treat human beings, through agriculture I can still become a veterinary doctor for animals so I’ve never lost hope. I still have hope even if I had started losing it. So, switching to agribusiness has never been difficult for me.

At Agromax, what was your typical day and week?

From Monday to Friday, we followed the programs of Agromax. And in the weekend, we did our own activities. On Monday we had leadership sessions. I was a leader in the field of entertainment. So, I used to give reports of previous weeks on how my department was doing, we had 45 minutes for all the departments to give out the reports. Then we would go to the field, either in the green house or we could harvest. We used to harvest on Mondays and Fridays. Personally, I was given seven green houses to manage including one of; tomatoes, cucumber, sweet paper. Among the workers, I had friends who could help me. Among the students assigned to Agromax, I was the one with the greatest number of green houses to manage, so I had to befriend the workers so that they could help me. We could also spray and give fertilizers to the plants. On Tuesday we could do field work and on Wednesday and Thursday, we would have classes.

What did you enjoy most during your field attachment at Agromax?

I enjoyed the hands-on practice. Before I used to practice agriculture unknowingly, I could send money to the village for planting crops, during harvesting I could head to the village and then come back and sell the harvests. I used to hate handling a hoe. Now I can do all that, I work in different fields like greenhouses, now I can manage a greenhouse very well. We never only studied about being a good farmer, we also had life skills training as a person in the community. I have met friends, I met senior agronomists, business partners, I’ve met different people who sometimes call me to do for them certain tasks and my network is growing. My life has never remained the same.

How did you end up studying Agri-business?

After the trip to Rwanda, when we came back, we had a call from Aunt Rose and Madam Teddy. They wanted to meet all the youth who had traveled with them to Rwanda, so I took that chance to attend. So, I wanted to go and appreciate what they had done, I hadn’t asked to be taken to Rwanda but they still took us there. Rose had no information about our lives but she loved and cared for us. She wanted to hear from us the changes in our lives after the journey to Rwanda. They were asking us about our plans and goals. When I heard that, in my heart, I was saying, “Thank you God for what you are doing in my life!” Since I failed to get a scholarship from the government for the nursing course, I felt that I needed to do something better outside the bracket of football. I was waiting for her to tell me, “What do you want to be?” I wanted to do catering!

But instead, Teddy recommended us to a special course, Agri-business. She explained more about the course. I looked at my life. I was sending money to the village to plant crops and this was a kind of Agri-business as well. So, this would help me adjust to what I was already doing. I used to read about it, for example having a small garden in the compound and earning from it, so I picked interest. We were many youths and people selected different courses but my friend Agit and I chose the Agri-business course. So, after that I went to Madam Teddy she explained more about the course. We joined COWA vocational institute and thereafter we were sent to Agromax. From then my life has never been the same.

I appreciate my parents, Madam Chrispine of COWA, Mr. Alberto of MPI, my mothers and mentors Rose and Teddy. At the level where I have reached, I can do something of my own even if I am at the initial stages. I would like to thank Meeting Point International!

Okeny Christopher.

Kampala

I wished it could rain so heavily so that we all die at night because I felt worthless in this world ­- (Akumu Olga)

 

 

The story of how Akumu Olga built a house by borrowing money from her VSLA group.

Before Olga joined Meeting Point international, she was working at the stone quarry with all her children. The kids were not going to school because their mother Olga didn’t have enough money to pay for their school fees. But when she encountered Rose, all her children were enrolled in schools. Olga herself became a member of Meeting Point International (MPI) where she was able to attend meetings on the various activities carried out like community dialogues, psychosocial activities, sensitizations on food and nutrition, health and hygiene which helped Olga to discover the meaning of life and her value.  Olga’s main economic activity still remained stone quarrying but she was not earning enough. She could not afford to pay for her children’s school fees and pay for their scholastic requirements as well, MPI was doing this for her. To make it worse, her house collapsed at one point due to heavy rains and she lost hope in life. Faced with such a reality, she reflected what she had learnt during the different activities that she was engaged in and she realized that she too could be able to help herself but rather not being helped all the time by someone. She was able to pick up herself by carrying out different activities to earn some money. She worked so hard and constructed a two-roomed house.  She occupies one room with her children and rents the other which helps her to pay scholastic materials. She heads the family and her husband doesn’t live with her or provide any support. He went back to the village. Below, she narrates her story;

One day it rained a lot and my house collapsed but I had nowhere to go, so I just stayed in that house though it was in a very poor condition. My neighbours told me to move out of that house but I could not because I had nowhere to go.  They even called the police, so that I could leave but I still couldn’t leave. I wished it could rain so heavily so that we all die at night because I felt worthless in this world, If God really cared about us then my house would not have collapsed. I could not sleep at night because I had to check on my children. This was because it was a dangerous period whereby they were kidnapping and killing people. The police again came and warned me, I had to move out this time. I decided to go and stay at my sisters’ place and she gave us a single room to stay in for a month. When the month elapsed, she told us to move out of her house because she wanted to rent it out and get some money. I then had no option but to go back to my old house that had collapsed, I used to cry a lot due to the tough situations. We would cook from outside and when it rains, we would sit on a neighbour’s veranda. I had thought of going back to the village because the situation had worsened but my children persuaded me that we should stay because they wanted to study. It was easy for me to get food because I would go to different markets like Nakawa and Banda market and people would have pity on me and give me food, I would also try and collect the leftovers that the market vendors had thrown.

 

The main problem now was that of money, I had to go to different markets and collect tiny pieces of cassava and maize that were not needed and grind them to make flour and the remaining would be used to make alcohol (marua). It was from this point that I started getting some money because people would come and purchase alcohol. That is the money that I would use to buy food and also save to pay the school requirements of the children. But the money I got from brewing alcohol was not enough so I would go to look for vegetables in different areas like Ntinda, Naalya, Kisasi and many other places, I would save this money in the Village Savings and  Loan Association (VSLA) group of Meeting Point International. I could then borrow money and pay school requirements. As I kept on getting money from the activities like selling vegetables and alcohol, I would return the money that I had borrowed. I again borrowed money and started another activity of selling cow heads and the hooves, I would roast it and sell it to the people in Kitgum, I would deliver it through the bus and a relative in Kitgum would sell it for me and send back the money. This house that I constructed I consider it a gift from God. When they demolished houses from Naguru Barracks, a friend of mine informed me about it and she told me that people were collecting the bricks from there and selling them because they were good, they were used by the British back then in the colonial era. Many women were collecting them and selling them to the wealthy men who came with trucks to buy them but me I knew God had answered my prayers, so I instead collected them to construct a new house. When I had collected many of them, I ran to my VSLA group of Meeting Point International and they lent me 200,000ugshs, I also went to my sister who lent me 300,00ugshs which I used for transporting the bricks at home.

I brewed more alcohol and paid back the loan I got from my VSLA group. I then borrowed more 500,000ugshs from them (VSLA group) I used part of it to collect more bricks and part of it for buying sand. I have a gentleman who is my neighbour, some years back he had requested me for a small piece of land to construct his toilet and I gave it to him without any pay, he again requested for more land to build another toilet, but this time around, he decided to give me 1,000,000ugsh as an appreciation for being kind to him. With that money, I was able to buy two trucks of sand and 13 bags of cement, then I got some boys who were builders to construct the house, I paid them 400,000ugshs. I did not have iron sheets to use, I decided to use the old ones. As the construction was going on, we ran short of building materials, I again had to go back to Naguru to extract more bricks so that I could sell them. I managed to get 600,000ugshs to buy the remaining materials. The iron sheets leak at times but my elder son tried to glue it, it has not helped much but I know that in the future again, I will be able to buy new iron sheets. So that’s how I was able to construct my house, I put in my all and I was disciplined with the money because I had learnt the value of money.

Before my children were being paid for by Meeting Point International, we all used to go with them for stone quarrying, no one was going to school until one day my elder son Robert went to play football and he met Rose, who asked him why he was not at school, he told her that “my mother doesn’t have money to take us to school”, she asked for my name and after Rose took his photo. After a while Rose came to the place where we were doing stone quarrying from and she came with the photo of Robert asking for the mother, I was not around but my friends later informed me that the director of Meeting Point International was looking for me, I had to go and meet her and she told me that Robert would begin school, she also asked for my other children that were not going to school and she enrolled them too. After a while, all my children were going to school. Besides all this, am so happy that because of Meeting Point International, my children are studying, if Rose had not supported them I would count myself useless because I would not have been able to educate them at school. Am confident that my children are having a good foundation because they are studying from Luigi Giussani schools, although in the future they go to study somewhere else, their foundation has been laid firm. Am also happy that through the VSLA initiative at Meeting Point International, It helped me to construct my own house when all hope was lost.  It’s a two roomed house, I rent out one room and the other I live in it with my children. I put in my all and I was disciplined with the money because I had learnt the value of money.

I FELT LIKE A BOSS EVEN WHEN I DIDN’T HAVE MONEY-(Namwegezi Hanifa)

I met with Hanifa at Meeting Point International (MPI) offices in Kitintale to get to know her experience of working at MPI, gratuitousness was written all over her face as she time and again thanked Aunt Rose (Rose Busingye) and MPI for all the help she received. Like the other women, she is a member of MPI too. She is a mother of 2 children and a guardian of other 2 one, all of whom MPI supports. She lives in Acholi Quarter (Kireka) with her husband who is a sheik in the mosque in their locality. Last year, Hanifa got a job as a Cleaner at MPI. She describes her experience and of how she got the job and how it has been helpful for her;

Hanifa with one of her daughters.

(The Interview was made in Luganda and has been translated to English)

I began working here at Meeting Point International when I didn’t expect it because I did not go to school. There was a day when I went to see Aunt Rose to check on her, then she told me that there was a job. I thought that only people who knew how to speak English could have gotten it. I needed it but I didn’t expect it, but Aunt Rose told me that I was going to have it (Cleaning at the MPI office and supporting the staff). I couldn’t believe it, but she was serious about it. And she took me to Alberto (Technical Advisor at MPI) and I was imagining how I was going to speak to him because I couldn’t speak English, but he didn’t have problems and I was cleared to work. I had to set up the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) account and the bank account. I started to work and I even saw my name on the list of employees at the office, it was like a dream for that whole week, I couldn’t believe all this was happening to me.

I started working on 15th May 2018. When the month ended, I was paid for the days I had worked!!!! I went home very happy, my children were very happy and we bought food, we bought things that were needed at home. I continued working and another month elapsed, my payment was made in my bank account. I even saw the notification of the payment to my account on my phone, I was so overjoyed. I even saw the message from NSSF, these were things I only saw on television and I knew that it was for people who went to school. Now me too I could be paid on an account, am also on NSSF.

I don’t know what to do to show my gratitude to Aunt Rose for what she has done for me. I don’t even have what to give her to show my gratitude. I also thank Alberto for being patient with me, since I didn’t study, I don’t understand everything he tells me. He is patient that even if we don’t understand each other I am still working with him. I even ask myself, “Whom am I, that I work with a white man yet I don’t speak English?”

Aunt Rose gives me salary for my work, but even if I fall sick, she doesn’t think of the salary that I got, but she still takes me to the hospital and pays for my medical expenses. This surprises me so much. Even when am sick and the treatment costs Ugandan Shilling 20,000/=, she still pays for it, without deducting it from my salary. She is very different. When I think of what she has done to me, I start to tear, because she really changed my life.

My children now study, I can pay for their scholastic requirements, and I can buy for them books. My child used to stay home for up to two weeks without studying because she was sent away for not having an exercise book that costs 3,000 shillings. But now I can buy the books, I can give her the school requirements. When I get home I can buy food, soap, sugar. By the time I was joining MPI, I couldn’t even remember the price of a kilogram of sugar, I used to take tea without sugar.

 

In my whole life on this earth, no one has loved me to this extent that Aunt Rose has. My children are happy, they don’t go to bed without eating. They can wash their clothes, those days we used not to have soap, we couldn’t afford it. The children could only wash their uniforms on Saturday. My child wanted to commit suicide, she hated herself and was fed up of her condition. She wanted to study but couldn’t. She even asked me what her future was. She was going to Kololo (a government school) and she was always chased. Whenever they chased her from school she would hide in the toilets and then return to class when they had stopped chasing children. She never got her report cards whenever the terms got done because she hadn’t paid school fees, she was living in that kind of situation. Now all of that changed with the help of MPI. My child is at school studying and I can now pay for her scholastic materials. This is the first thing I did when I get my salary so that my child could study. I now feel that I have also a pillar that I can lean on. When I fall sick I am not worried. When I fell sick, I felt that I was only left with dying. But when I joined MPI, I got hope, I felt like I am a person, alive. I don’t need to be reminded to take medicine, it just comes to mind that I need to take drugs. 

I live near a trench, the muddy water is always flowing. But Aunt Rose stills comes and sits in my home in spite of that mud that flows near my house. This makes me wonder so much! I am a Muslim but she treats me like the other workers. My hope and that of my children has been returned.

I went to Nsambya Hospital in Kampala, I had never gone there. When I arrived, I handed in my documents of referral, the doctors treated me and they gave me receipts. I felt like a boss even when I didn’t have money. I was cared for in the hospital, the doctors checked me thoroughly and all of this was possible with the help of MPI. Those days, no one wanted to treat me because I didn’t have money, I couldn’t have reached that hospital if it wasn’t for MPI. The only thing I can do to thank MPI and Rose is to pray for them so that God may continue giving them life.

My husband used to give me Ugx 5000/= shilling (approximately  €1.5) daily to buy food, charcoal, sugar, to buy soap and this wasn’t enough. These days even if he leaves home that amount of money, I don’t care because I am now earning and I can buy necessary needs for our home. I am so happy for all the help that I’ve received.

By Okello Marvin

18/02/2019

Kampala

Agri-business – (Okeny Christopher and Agit Simon)

Gratitude from the Agri-business boys (Okeny Christopher and Agit Simon)

As Meeting Point International, we are very happy when we see our children happy for what they are receiving. Two of our boys whom we sent for an Agri-business course at COWA vocational Institute come to us and they had written a letter to Rose Busingye appreciating what they had been given;

“Appreciation for Opening Our Eyes towards a Bright Future through Giving Us a Chance of Going Back to School and Study (Agribusiness at COWA)

Happy New Year mom, we are very pleased and grateful to God to have someone special like you. The main reason for writing this letter is to say “Thank you, mom.” As a lovely mother, you have given us the best gift a parent should give to her child. That is education because nowadays academic qualifications are really considered for one to get a good paying good and you have given us a go ahead.

 

We really appreciate you and Madam Teddy for this gift because personally, I had lost hope but now at least I feel and see myself as someone of great honor.  In seven years to come through Agri-business.

You have shown as the way and we promise not to disappoint you or ourselves or even forsake the course because with the 3 months training, we have seen the greatness in it and we are ready to continue with it if the chance is still there. We have tested and seen the good part of it and the bright future it can impact our lives. And we believe to be good examples to other fellow youth who undermine the courses (such as agri-business).

We are very glad for this opportunity. Through your actions, we have also picked out something and that is sharing. We can’t do it perfectly as you but we shall try our best. May the Lord richly bless you together with Madam Teddy for the great work with peaceful hearts full of love that you are sharing with the youths, elders and many others. Now we don’t have anything worthy that we can thank you with but we believe our prayers with a faithful heart through the Virgin Mary will do more than any other thing.

May God bless the works of your hands, families, friends with healthy life and minds full of peace, joy and happiness.

Yours faithfully,

Okeny Christopher and Agit Simon”

 

Kampala, 16/01/2019

 

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

I thought that without my parents, I had no value

We received a letter from our child Nyeko Rogers addressed to Rose Busingye. This is also addressed to you who support us such that we accomplish our activities. We thought we’d share with you his beautiful experience;

Hello Aunt Rose,

I hope you are fine, back to me am very fine and happy because of what you have done for me. Yesterday, I did not get the time to say anything when we had a meeting with you. But am very happy that you came for us and yesterday was a really special day for all of us.

I wrote this letter because I wanted to thank you for paying for my school fees since senior one up to this level. I studied primary in a school called Gulu Public Primary School and my primary seven in Kasubi Army primary school just near your former school Secret Heart. After primary seven, my life was so complicated because I had no one to help me continue in secondary. I thought that that was the end of my education but you discovered me from where I was lost and confused and you took me to school, I thank you for that.

Joining Luigi Giussani High School was like starting another life because many things changed. At first I was very scared of what my friends said about me back in primary. But I came to know that everyone in Luigi Giussani High School especially the teachers and friends were very happy to see me. This wasn’t in my primary school where my friends used to abuse me that I was alien because I had no parents. I lost my parents when I was 8 months, so I don’t know the way they look like but I know that they are happy where they are because you are now here for me. I joined the community school in 2015 and from there you taught me what it means to have a value. I thought that without my parents, I had no value. But from the community school, I discovered that I have a value because there is someone who loves and cares for me.

I will also take this opportunity to thank you for placing me in a good school because Luigi Giussani High School is the best school I have ever seen in my life. I also thank you for making sure that I am at school because there are many people out there who want to go to school but they don’t have the opportunity.

I would like to end here and once again thank you very much and May God bless and protect you.

Nyeko Rogers

 

 

THIS FRIENDSHIP HELPS ME TO BE MYSELF

Kissa Joel and Lugamba Vincent are students of Luigi Giussani High School. Both of them have already sat their final examinations for High school and will start the University next year. In September 2018, they along with some university students and others from Luigi Giussani High School had a holiday titled “By these facts you will know that I am the Lord” with Rose Busingye, a Spanish priest (Fr. Ignacio Carbajosa) and five students from Universities in Madrid, Spain. I meet with them to listen to what they had to share after this encounter- by Okello Marvin 11.12.18

 

The holiday was 3 days, situated in a town called Hoima which is next to Uganda’s second largest lake, Lake Albert, the place has steep hills and a beautiful shore. During the holiday, the group went for a hike on the hills besides the Lake, sang songs together by the lake shore, played games together, shared experiences and watched a movie titled Les Miserables”.

Can you describe what struck you most about this holiday?

Joel in red and Vincent in white

Joel: For me, starting from the theme of the holiday, “By these facts you will know that I am the Lord” was enough to show me that I was going for something good for my life. I feel happy that I am going to complete the high school, but I was feeling sad and my heart was unsettled. I don’t want to leave high school, this is the place where everything is given and this is the sign that I am not alone. Going for the holiday, I was looking for an event that could help me face this restlessness.

Did any special thing happen?

I cannot say any special thing that happened because the whole holiday was special, in the bus we were in two teams and my team was beaten while I was sleeping. It didn’t matter much that we lost because it was overcome by the way we way staying together and this was very beautiful. Everything was just simple in spite of the fact that some people were older than me and others younger, everyone was living with the simplicity of the heart. You don’t have to hide in front of them because you know that these are people who love you and who are on the same journey with you of self-discovery. That alone for me was very beautiful. I was interacting with everyone with a different gaze and full of the newness because of the way I’ve been looked at.

Vincent: Looking at the experiences of Hoima. Fr. Nacho said that the hypothesis of life is to always face life with curiosity. And I began to ask myself where the facts where, where Christ was showing that He is the Lord. The most concrete fact that I had in front of this was this Presence. Was what was happening before me, were my friends. For me I thought that it was awkward to say that I can meet Christ through a face of someone. But then it became more concrete because I was becoming more aware of myself the more I lived with these people. Some people where describing their experiences and they were the same as mine, so this kind of similarity helped me to discover about myself more and more.

There’s a time when I said that I wanted to meet Christ face to face to ask Him some questions, but I met him in a different way through this companionship, in staying together, the way we played, when we went to the shore of the lake, the way we were holding each other’s hands while climbing the steep hill, all of that was so beautiful for me and I found that, this was my appointment with Christ. To meet Him in a different way.

I don’t normally talk about my dad. When I compare Gladys’ experience with her dad and mine it’s almost the same, the same thing happened. I was living without caring about him but then one evening when we watched the movie “Les Miserables”, I went to sleep at night, thinking about Jean Jaljean and the Bishop, made me realize that the same way Christ is looking at me is the same way He is looking at my dad. If Christ loves me, it means that he also loves my Dad no matter what he is doing. I don’t live with my dad. I realize that even my dad is Important and he is there for a reason. I also relate this to what Fr. Carron said when he spoke of the preference for me. Right now my perception of my dad has changed. Whenever I think of him, I don’t define him by what he has done or by his mistakes. I look at him as a sign of Christ’s preference for me. Because for me to be here was through my dad, so for me it is a concrete sign, so I am looking at him with what Fr. Giussani calls “an irreducible newness.”

So after watching “Les Miserables”, I was ashamed of myself. How can I live this kind of beauty and then hate my dad? So what struck me most was that I began to miss my dad as well. So for me this was a very beautiful experience that I will never forget.

So after this holiday, what do you guys desire for? What remains in your hearts after this encounter you had in Hoima?

Joel: When I went back to my room after watching “Les Miserables”, I began to wish that life would always be like this. This is the same thing I am trying to live after the holiday. I am trying to relive the events and live in that beautiful way. I might not be able to always see these faces every morning when I wake up. What always helps me is that I am loved. In this holiday, someone showed me love that Christ is thinking of me. This is something very beautiful that I wish to live every day. Aunt Rose always says that in following you never make mistakes, and in the holiday, I followed someone, I followed Aunt Rose and Fr. Nacho and I was able to discover myself more. So this is something that I desire for every day.

Vincent: I have never felt this anywhere in my life, I am realizing my purpose and my value through this companionship so for me what I desire is to stay with this friendship because it is what helps me to be myself always.

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.”

I couldn’t have reached this far without you

_MG_7115

I joined Meeting Point International (MPI) through Aunt Rose; she was a very good friend to my late mum. My mum passed on in 2001 when I was only 7 years old, and my dad passed on a bit earlier, by that time I was already sponsored. I started to live with my Aunt but five years later she passed on too, I was only left with my two sisters and two cousins, we have been living together since then with the support of our uncle. My two sisters were also sponsored by MPI which also gave us food like rice, cooking oil, beans, sugar and salt, maize flour among others.

It has been 17 years of sponsorship right from Primary to university, I went to Naguru Katali primary school, St Maria Goretti SSS Katende and then Makerere University where I was able to complete my studies in Bachelor of Journalism and Communication which took me four years with the help of MPI that provided me with school fees along with scholastic materials, how couldn’t I be more grateful for such an opportunity?

I faced challenges throughout my education journey; it was never a smooth road because when I finished secondary school, MPI informed me they could not pay my full tuition and at that time my uncle didn’t have enough money to top up the rest of the tuition, my elder sister had just got a job and she could not contribute that much. At that moment, I could not see reality just as it was, It was impossible but with simplicity; I regained the awareness of what reality was asking me, my sister contributed the little she could and I solicited some money from close friends, I had to struggle with transport from home to the university on a daily basis. There were times when I could stay home because I didn’t have money for the taxi fare but, I am extremely glad because I had the opportunity to study till this far. I was able to complete my degree in Journalism and Communication, come January I will be graduating all thanks to MPI. With what I have studied; I can be a public relations manager in any organization, write news, stories for a newspaper, do photography, shoot and edit videos.

Many thanks to my sponsor, Gini Lorella, to whom I owe a lot more than what I can say. Thank you for supporting me since way back, I couldn’t have reached this far without you. Thank you very much! May God bless you abundantly for your love and generosity. I am so glad that I was introduced to Meeting Point International years ago, it has been a blessing to me and my family, I wouldn’t have made it.

Thank you so much, Meeting Point International. May God bless and keep you all.

ADEKE IRENE

By Lumanyika Jude Bright

My Story by Adoch

Adoch Mary Clare in the Meeting Point International Office
Adoch Mary Clare at Meeting Point International Office

My name is Adoch Mary Clare Ochira. I am 22 years old and completing the university level soon. I was only 16 years old when I joined the Meeting Point International sponsorship, and by then I was in senior four which is a candidate class and waiting to go to the next level of education which is the advanced level of education in the high school. It was during that period when my father lost his job, and my hopes of sitting my final examinations suddenly dropped. My mother was unemployed she could not support me at school and my whole family depended on my father’s job. It was a hard time period for me and in my family since it was an extended family whereby I lived with my siblings, cousins and other family members.

We are twelve, six females and six males, I remember being in class at school when a teacher walked towards me telling me that my mum was outside and she wanted to greet me. It was then she told me about being enrolled in the program. I began once again to hope in my education, I was overjoyed about the news and I managed to sit for my examinations. I performed very well, I got the first grade. With my good grades, I was able to join the advanced level where I studied history, economics, geography, subsidiary mathematics and general paper. With no time, I reached the candidate class which is the final class in high school. With God’s grace, I was able to excel again, I was among the top five students in my class, and I obtained three principle passes which enabled me to join the university.  I, therefore, applied at one of the top five universities in Africa and the best in East Africa which is Makerere University Kampala and I was given a vacancy. I, therefore, started pursuing a bachelor’s degree in arts in social sciences. I majored in public administration and minored in criminology.

The university was quite challenging because it was a new environment and it required a lot of hard work due to high competition and also need to perform well. It also needed a lot of self-drive in order to excel. I really worked hard and I can say my performance was good throughout up to the final year. I currently fall into the category of second class upper and I hope I have maintained it. I am now working as a social worker at meeting point international, I chose to be a social worker because I wanted to interact more with people because I believe that with this I can be able to learn a lot from people which increases my knowledge about society. It is four months now since Meeting Point International offered me an occupation as a social worker, I have learned a lot starting from the way I stay in front of the reality of the children that I am following, to the awareness of myself. I feel very grateful to ISP through Meeting Point International for giving me this opportunity to study because not all people can manage to reach this level of education because it is expensive and also not easy. I pray that the almighty God bless you for your great deeds. And that you may continue to support many other people.

I love fashion and design and I hope to venture into this sector in the future. My greatest inspiration and role model is mother Theresa because she had such a great heart and she was selfless. I also hope to emulate her good character so as I can touch lives out there.

By Adoch Mary Clare Ochira

Livelihood support

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Seeking to find a relationship within which one can be free.

I first heard about Meeting Point International when I was desperate for a friendship, a relationship due to the condition that I was in; three younger ones not being at school, to having no meal in a day, having three children dropouts at home, at that moment I needed none of my problems to be solved. What I needed was a friend, somewhere to belong and when a woman called Joyce who is a client of Mpi spoke to me about it. I felt that it was like any other Organization where by you feel alone even when your children are under sponsorship.

Hanifah together with her three children and husband lives in a place called Acholi quarters. It was a camp in Uganda, which was initially considered a place of the internally displaced persons. It is located outside the capital Kampala, in what might seem to be an inhospitable environment. The family lives in one room house made out of bricks with low light since it doesn’t have windows but one door with rays of light coming in, the only furniture is the small bench for both the family and visitors to sit.

_MG_6787The floor is cemented since the mattress is laid on the floor during the night. Hanifah with tears in her eyes narrates “At one point of my life, I lived with my children on the floor outside on the veranda since I didn’t have money to pay for the house. My child was sick, I couldn’t take him to the hospital because I lac ked money and when I attempted to do so, the doctors asked me for money for checkup and I could return home with him and since the people of the community that I lived in knew my condition, they gave me money for checkup and my child was treated. One woman who was a member of Meeting Point International, Joyce invited me to stay with them and this is where I joined with the women in kireka, At first it was difficult since I stayed with them and felt alone but with time I started dancing and singing and this took away most of my weights because I felt that sense of belonging and a friendship was born with the women since her business was to make papers bags for a living, I was moved and since it was simple I asked her to teach me so that I could do the same since I had nothing to do.

While sitting learning to do the paper bags. Rose Director MPI asked me to bring my children to be registered for 1508745387_tmp__MG_6809sponsorship and all of them were registered and enrolled in school. One of my child in the primary and the other two in Luigi Giussani High school. I remember talking to myself that I should start doing these papers in order to buy the school requirements since Meeting Point international is paying for my children’s school fees. when I started doing paper bags, I started getting some money for food, requirements for my children, which is my business up to now and I do it for a living and it feels like my life was given back to me . I was always alone but not anymore because now I have discovered a companion beyond”.AS Hanifah recounts all that happened to her, There was a gentleness in her face and eyes.

By Lumannyika Jude 

EDUCATIONAL SUPPORT 

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A TURNING POINT IN MY CAREER PROSPECTIVE

By AYO VANESSA (Companionship of Works Association (COWA VTC )

I have discovered something beautiful that is now a wonder in my life. A dream I have never desired to a part of my life or even wished to be involved in. A voice you hear how has fallen passionately in love Agriculture starting from production to commercialization.

I am going to be frank with you, the previous years I looked at life at different perspective as far as careers are concerned, I dreamt of having a white collar job or highly paid professions like law, mass communication and IT management. I despised manual jobs such as agriculture and others looked at it as dirty, a fact that one has to touch soil, I wanted clean work where I do not have to break myself with bulky stuff but just getting simple and clean money. At least that is what was running through my mind those days.

After completing my high school in form six last year 2016. I was very excited about enrolling to the university during the 1508744868_tmp_IMG-20171016vacation, I remember very well that I even drew down plans for the university around 22, January, 2017 which included getting a job during the vacation, then buy for myself a laptop, lots of clothes, shoes and a smart phone so as life at the university is really good and fun where I do not have to worry about anything else but books. l wanted  to do IT management (Information Technology) at the university basically a degree course at any university in Uganda.

I shared this with aunt Rose but she disagreed with me and advised me to choose a course that is more lively, touchable and look at the job availability in Uganda whether I will be able to get a job. Deep inside my heart, I was not convinced so I went back hoe that day to think about it. But all I could think of was to do IT management at the university.

A simple invite to do a short course under agribusiness in COWA (Companionship of Works Association) an institute located in kamuli –kireka, Wakiso district, Uganda, changed everything in my life.

Aunt Rose invited me and my friends to do a course in order to keep ourselves busy during vacation as we wait for the university. She addressed this offer to us during a meeting she hosted. During the meeting, she wanted to know how her girls were doing, the challenges we were facing she can us accordingly. This is so because we were protected and spent all our lives at high school but now we were wide open into the world. So there could be high chances of messing up so she wanted to guide us and also make us feel secured that all in, there is someone we can to for counseling when challenges and problems come our way.

I was expected to start work in two weeks’ time I had got a job in Turkish supermarket around Ntinda, Kampala, Uganda. They were going to pay me some good money around 300,000/=.It was a lot of money for me as a starter. With this kind of money, l would have paid all my debts in the movement [communion and liberation] and a few friends who demanded me and also I would have bought all the requirements I needed at the university.

On the left Ayo Vanessa, In the centre Miss Wanya Chrispine Director Companionship of Workers Association and students of Agribusiness .

I know this sounds like regrets, actually sometimes l wonder whether l made the right decision. l say  this because when l decided to do a short course in agribusiness along the way, l gained interest in this field so l gave up the job but this broke war at home , my Aunts were not happy about the decision l my made , they said that l have killed an opportunity of changing my life financially and independently.lt was tough  for me  in making this decision, my Aunts even made it worse for me  l almost  gave  up the course also but my mom stood up for me as she said that whatever  decision  l make as long as it comes from my heart , the decision will always be right .This motivated me and uplifted my courage and confidence because l realized l was not a lone but rather with someone who loved me.

Our trainer Mr. Michael in COWA really motivated me and made me fall in love with agriculture , l remember he shared with us experience about some of his friends who did urban farming basically dealing in tomatoes, onions, mushrooms and Sukuma wiki respectively . And how they were profitable for instance, the one of tomatoes who could get 200,000/=daily. And this enabled him to take care of family, take his children to school and finish constructing his house. These persons were using the available space at home not so big but the produce could be high. This really caught my interest.

At around march most of the form six leavers where to apply to the universities of their choices and the courses they would like to do including myself. At this point, l was in dilemma because in August COWA was taking the Agriculture students to agro max limited Uganda- a farm in order for the students to acquire more skills basically we were going for green house management and also other things we would find there. This very month the students at the university would be starting their studies especially as the first years.

I tell you what, l lost weight in two weeks as l was thinking of what to do, on the other hand, my girlfriends were reminding me to apply because most of them were going to apply and others had already applied. They were asking me the course l will be doing and which university l will going to. This was really too much, so l went for help to my mom and the director of COWA know as Miss Chrispine who told me that their options would be as good as useless to me now and the only thing was make up my mind and make a decision because this was a critical moment in my life which l had to make on my own. I felt as if this was a matter of life and death.

Soon or rather, l had to make a decision where l chose agribusiness over IT Management .This time my relatives especially my Aunts quarried, the y almost wanted to swallow me a life. They complained that l was wasting time and resources. They said that l should not have studied A’LEVEL it I knew, l would have branched off immediately after O’LEVEL and then they confessed how disappointed they were in me. But a fact is that studying never ends and may be this is what God had prepared for me all along. So that l can discover my talents and interests.

During my trainings in agro max limited Uganda Gayaza-Luteete-Kampala which lasted about three months have really been of great importance to me . l have gained a lot of skills, competence, determination, motivation and courage to go further, research , study and venture more in agriculture. Discovering more technologies and is innovations in agriculture so as to advance and commercialize the produce and the products.

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  • Green house management
  • Nursery management
  • Coffee nursery and mother garden management
  • Open field management
  • Tissue culture propagation
  • Passion fruit management
  • Site selection for open field and green house
  • Seed preparation
  • Fertigation schemes
  • Irrigation practices
  • Agro-forestry nursery kinds of propagation
  • Sprying techniquics
  • Propagation of plants using cloning method
  • Soil treatment
  • Vegetative method of propagation
  • Crop nutrition practices
  • Pest and disease identification and control
  • Record keeping in both open field and green house
  • Sales and marketing

I plan to start up a project so as to practice the skills l have attained, and l also look forward to share my skills with the youth like me especially those who are wasting their lives and time, l would like t create awareness among them that they can do something for themselves and make a difference in their lives. I am confident that now that l can change the face of my family, my life and that of the society. I have hope now that some of my ambitions will come to light, for instance ,giving away to charity, may be the hand, l have been exchanging is not enough.

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Vanessa in the preparation of the Green House

I would love to help the needy basically because out of love and charity l was able to go to school and l was able to reach where I am now. Therefore l want to make a different in someone’s life.
At this point of my life, l look forward to advance in agriculture, l desire to do a diploma course after completing my certificate and if possible l would love to continue further to do a degree course. I realized the more l advance in my studies, the more l get exposed to a wider agriculture, and discover more technologies and innovations. I also believe more opportunities will come my way, my friends keep on reminding me of years but l am not worried  about it as studying and discovering never ends until we go to our gravels.

I want to join the world of people who are fighting famine and starvation all over villages because times have changed so we need to change also, as we cannot just sit and look as our fellow friends die basically due to facts that, there is nothing left to eat. This has been a major problem in Uganda in the pasted years, l would like this to happen again. Agriculture is the back bone of my country and there are a lot of opportunities in it, l cannot afford to miss this beautiful journey.

I send special thanks to my sponsors, mentors, family, and friends for being always there for me, without any of you, l do not think whether l would be making big decisions in my life.

You have sacrificed a lot in order for me to attain education especially my sponsors i appreciate the kindness and generosity you have shown me.

“THE GREATEST NEED OF A HUMAN BEING IS THE NEED OF BELONGING”

 One year ago, a mother died of AIDS. She had a daughter and an HIV Positive husband.

One day, the father was out for work, their 12-year-old girl was left home alone since also the stepmother had gone to buy food in the market. The 12-year-old girl locked herself in the house and set herself and the house on fire. What could have provoked this 12-year-old to end her life in this way? What could we say to the grieving father while counseling him?

I am Birabwa Betty, a nurse and I receive a lot of patients with burnouts, vomiting, HIV/AIDS infection. For a while I was scared and I could ask myself all the possible questions a nurse asked to work in this situation would I have worked in Meeting Point International for seven years as a nurse and for all this period I have come to understand the truthfulness of Rose’s statement: “The greatest need of a human being is the need of belonging”.

Looking at how Rose stays in front of me and how she is always available for me, is something that motivates me to work and this has built my confidence in my nursing skills as well as my counseling competence. I feel really happy when I treat a patient and the following day I see her with a smiling face, feeling well and appreciating for the drugs given to her that made her better. This increases my affection towards my profession. In this way, I am encouraged even by my patients. While counseling, I have come to understand that a relationship with a person being treated is very important. I observe this during the times spent with my patients in Kireka, who came in with burn, confused over some situations and friendship with this person gives you the possibility to speak because they open up to you and by the time we part at least there is a relief in a person’s life and you have changed not only their life but also find yourself changed too.

Meeting Point International entered the adventure with the sick with the help of the nurses and works with communities in order to respond to these questions.

MPI Social Workers

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“DESPITE THE CIRCUMSTANCES, HE WAS ABLE TO FIND HOPE.”

Gashumba’s father is a Rwandese by race, he had lived and worked in Rwanda as a Chef but because of civil wars, he fled to Uganda in search of peace and access to better social services, and he later found a job working for AVSI Volunteers but later they had to leave for Italy and he was left unemployed, It was then that Rose Director Meeting Point International (MPI) saw him, and she employed him to work at her home. With a good relationship, Gashumba Emmanuel got an opportunity to be supported by Meeting Point International right from his childhood and at the age of five; he attended his Primary level of education at St. Kizito Primary School Bugolobi.

Gashumba tells me that; “during school days, Social Workers from MPI could come to meet us and we would write letters to our sponsors, this was the time I realized that I was supported by MPI.”

 Having completed his Primary level, he joined secondary level in St. Maria Goretti Katende. It was a big school but MPI proposed to him a new school (Luigi Giussani High School) and he was told he would like it. It`s location only made him regret why he had left his former school. Luigi Giussani high school was situated in Kireka Acholi quarters a slum in Kampala city; it was a young school with one building without electricity besides, the head teacher and her Deputy Head teacher were so harsh and strict to students; this made him to think that there was no difference between his former school and the later.

Those were the moments in which Gashumba felt life was not interesting because of the challenges and circumstances he was going through in his life; especially the father’s leg that had been amputated because of cancer. With harsh and tough teachers, Gashumba was sinking in bewilderment; it was then that Rose invited him to start attending the school of community that could take place at his school. It was then that he heard the words like love, beauty, happiness, Justice and the value of a person. He could understand nothing but with time, he found a correspondence with what he was being told, Gashumba found happiness. With this feeling of happiness, his school performance greatly improved, school became interesting and gained meaning.  He then managed to complete his ordinary and Advanced level of education successfully. While in his vacation, he asked Rose (Director MPI) if there was a possibility of a job so that he could be doing something to support himself and the family. He was introduced to work, at the beginning, it was a challenge for him to work and Study at the same time but it was a help for him, to learn on how to face the reality. Thanks to MPI, Gashumba has managed to complete his diploma in social work and social administration and he is looking forward to upgrade in his studies.

In Meeting point International we are happy that Gashumba Emmanuel discovered his Value, and he understood the value of his education despite all that he went through, we can still see that starting from the awareness of his value, Gashumba was able to find hope again and this allowed him to triumph.

Story by Lumanyika Jude Bright.

I have been educated on how to stay with people.

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Lumanyika Bright

 

She emerged as the best student at Luigi Giussani High School

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Lumanyika Bright.

I felt introduced to the new family. Dear Bright

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Dear Bright,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by

Odong David Lakuc

Lumanyika Bright (Social Worker & Communication MPI)

25.5.2017

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

‘While many were fleeing, we stayed’

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‘While many were fleeing, we stayed’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Oola Rose’s Home

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

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

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

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

 Rose, 37 Years Old (MPI Women )

by Lumanyika Jude

04.04.2017

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.

THE STORY OF LALAM FLORENCE 60 YEAR OLD WOMAN 

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LALAM FLORENCE standing at her two room House

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

KAMPALA, MARCH 2017

THE INTERVIEW WITH THE EDUCATIONAL ADVISOR OF LUIGI GIUSSANI PRE PRIMARY AND PRIMARY SCHOOL ANDREA NEMBRINI

Top left, children in class during a lesson . Bottom left , children on the veranda playing lego. Right , Andrea standing with his children.
Top left, children in class during a lesson . Bottom left , children on the veranda playing lego. Right , Andrea standing with his children.

On Wednesday 15th march 2017, I interviewed ANDREA NEMBRINI, the that LUIGI GIUSSANI PREPRIMARY AND PRIMARY SCHOOL. He studied at UNIVERSITÀ CATTOLICA in Italy (Milano) and for seven years he taught at FONDAZIONE SACRO CUORE, MILANO. Andrea was sitting in the head teacher’s office… his office was still under construction.

During the interview, he spoke about the hope he has for both the teachers and the students...  

Why did you decide to come to Uganda?

I am a teacher, I have been teaching for seven years in Italy. I was invited here by one of mygreat friends who has been working here since 2012. When I heard about the story of the womenof MPI, Rose and the school, I decided to come here to see, enjoy this experience and to work with the certainty that it is a great possibility for me for growing as a teacher and as a human being.

Can you tell me about the last five months you have been here?

These five months were very nice because there has been all the beauty of the beginning… when you start something new it is always amazing because you don’t know what is going to happen! All is a surprise and for this reason every new beginning is wonderful! The challenges are many,but the beauty remains the core of this school.
How 
is the situation? Can you tell me something of what is happening in the school?

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LUIGI GIUSSANI PRE PRIMARY AND PRIMARY SCHOOL

The most important aspect of the school are the teachers, as they are the ones moulding the shape of the school. That’s why, we are working a lot with them. We are having many training coursesand collaborating with some Italian schools. We are trying to help the teachers to improve their job.

Even the walls and the building must communicate the beauty that generated the school. That is why we are trying to renovate the infrastructure; because a beautiful environment is a help forthe teachers, students and the life of the school.

The setting of the school is wonderful, when I came here, for the first time I was really impressed. But it was clear that some changes were needed, for making a better use all this plot, Idesired the best!

Of course, running a school while carrying out renovation works is not easy, but the works are almost completed and the general outlook of the school has changed a lot. I think that the children with time will be able to enjoy the new pitch, all the external works and the new toilets. I think they have understood that we are making new things for them so they are bearing with the situation. I am so happy for all these improvements; having two sports fields, shelters where children can stay during their free time or while having lunch… Even the secretary and head teacher are going to have a better place where to work.

You mentioned how pivotal is the role of the teachers in a school, may you tell us something more about the work you are doing with them?

Recently, at the beginning of the year, we held two training courses for them, and we are going to add more training sessions during the year. We are working with teachers according to the level of their pupils (nursery, lower classes and upper classes) trying to help them to grow professionally by accompanying them, since most of them are young teachers. And they are wonderful because they want to learn and they are eager to work together and collaborate with me and Ruka John Bosco, the head teacher. We are trying to become more aware of the importance of our job. We spend a lot of time together, sharing experiences, advices, tools and speaking about the various aspects of this job. All we are trying to do is to become more and more aware that starting point are not the children but ourselves. A teacher can teach only if she knows what her need is.

What is your hope for the teachers?

My hope is that teachers can become men and women certain of the reality and of themselves. The way to reach this certainty is through their job; teachers must be serious with their job as we ask our children the same.

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Children in Class

How are the children welcoming or facing these changes taking place in the school and inthe teachers?

It is too early to say… because this kind of job is like farming, you sow the seed in the soil but you will see the fruit in a long period. What I can already tell you is that, there is a nice atmosphere of trust on the side of pupils. Particularly we are trying to change the educational approach in nursery and in the lower primary; I feel they are enjoying it. They aren’t scared because they trust their teachers and they feel what is happening is a good for them.

it is the beginning, they are little sparks we need at least one year to see if it works! I feel also the parents are going to help us in this.

Now that you spoke about the parents as a school, how are you going to engage parents to help you in this work?

We need the parents! We are not mothers and fathers and at the same time they are not teachers. Our task is different and the most useful thing for me is that a mother, in her house, with herchild, is a mother and a father is a father. I think this is the best way, for a parent, to help us in our daily work. In the educational path, it’s very important that parents and teacher speak to each other. This means I will talk more with the parents to understand their feelings and their questions not because I want to hear all their complaints but cause I need their feedback. It is very important because they can see something that we cannot see as we see some aspects of their children they do not see.

The hope I have for the teachers is also the hope for I have the parents. The time children spend in school is important for the parents too, for they can also learn.

Thank you for your time and I hope to hear from you soon. 

Thank you.

Meeting Point International | Lumanyika Bright

Luigi Giussani Pre-Primary and Primary school (LGPP)| ANDREA NEMBRINI

THE MEETING WITH THE WOMEN OF MEETING POINT INTERNATIONAL LUIGI GIUSSANI HIGH SCHOOL

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Mr . Kawuki Micheal HEAD TEACHER LUIGI GIUSSANI HIGH SCHOOL

Since the school started, the history of the school has always been explained to us many times, that it was born out of the experience the women of Meeting Point International (MPI) had with Rose Busingye. With Rose these women were helped to discover their value despite the situations they were going through, from that back ground they desired to have a place to educate their children as they are educated.

This for us was something of another world and we too desired to have the same gaze like the women have. I for one was asking myself what really made them have this gaze and this awareness on themselves to have such a choice of having a place for their children.

This was a starting point to ask ourselves what did they meet that made them like this. So, we desired as teachers to go deep into this, this provoked me and other teachers to ask through Seve if we can go and stay with the women so that we are helped also to look at what they are looking at because I desired what they have encountered be my own. Her answer was so dramatic in which she said; “Come and see, this is a home and you are welcome to this family”. Hearing this I was even more enthusiastic to go and see. So, with the teachers we set off for Meeting Point International. I can tell you that staying with them, it was clear that those ladies have moved many miles ahead of us. I came back with a greater desire to live the experience of the ladies of meeting Point International and look at life in a different way.

From their experience, it was evident that without the love from Rose who helped them discover themselves, they wouldn’t have discovered that they have a value and they are more than what they go through. To me this is so important because as a teacher I cannot be in positon to make a journey with my students if there is no love for them and what I do.

Thanks.

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.”

 

At Paraa National Park

On the 28th Dec 2016, Meeting Point International women and some of their children set off to Paraa National Park, a nine hours journey to the Northern part of Uganda.
“Where is my daughter now? She should have been here!” said ABILOMIT with a sad tone of voice…
We were up by 4.00am to go to the Murchison falls. On top of the falls we stood, gazing at the reflection of the Crystal rainbow…. below us the rapidly flowing stream. We were amazed then proceeded to the park where we saw animals like elephants, buffalos
We with the sense of wonder said “if these things exist, then God does. “It is not enough to say that. Why did God create this thing? How beautiful is this falls, who am I? Aunt Rose said God put it there for you. You are so precious. God made it for you. She added that it would be stupid making the entire long journey. It is when you look at it you discover how important you are. What you see helps you to look at yourself.”
“Where is my daughter now, she should have been here! I have discovered who I am and I am so sad for my daughter who could have been here together with me and the fellow youths whom I see very happy and freely sharing their experiences.” said ABILOMIT.
December, 2016.

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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“I THOUGHT, I HAD NO FAMILY BUT NOW I REALIZED THAT MEETING POINT INTERNATIONAL IS MY HOME”

ATIM FLORENCE, a single mother having 4 children because her husband abandoned them. She is a member of Mukisa saving group, she used to sell tomatoes, onions plus other items. She became depressed after her husband had abandoned her with the children; she was then put on drugs. Florence stopped taking drugs for almost a month because she could feel healthy without them. One day, she woke up and started burning her possessions that she almost burnt everything from her house. Always when something happens in the society, people gather to see what is happening. One of the women of MPI saw her and informed the Executive Director of MPI (Rose Busingye) who asked one of the field social worker to take her to the hospital. Florence was hospitalized for one week and during her stay in the hospital, her children were being taken care of by the women of MPI.

On her return from the hospital, she was moved to see that the women took care of her children especially with food, clothing, and scholastic materials such as school uniforms that were being demanded by the school.

The women decided to contribute money from their saving groups and gave Florence to restore her business which has enabled her to continue supporting her family with basic needs. During the weekly meetings with the women and the Executive Director (Rose Busingye), Florence thanked them for their friendship and she said that, “I thought, I had no family but now I realized that MEETING POINT INTERNATIONAL is my Home and I am happy to belong to such a family “from her experience. I realized what Rose Busingye always says, “The greatest need of a human being is the need of belonging”.

 For privacy the name was changed. Written by Jude.

NEN ANYIM SAVING GROUP

Everyone who visits these women is a friend, this is what I felt for the three hours I spent with them.

Last week, the women of Meeting Point International invited me to visit their Savings Group Association in Naguru, a slum area just outside the city center of Kampala. Every woman has a story to tell. The women have formed different saving groups to better manage their little finances and try to improve their standard of living. The way these women were staying together in front of the money they saved during this whole year, was something that recalled me to Rose Busingye’s words; “This has been an adventure in MPI, a very beautiful adventure in educating the heart not to fall into what it is not made for! To educate the heart to be at its original state.”

I met AKELLO SANTA, a 52 years old woman. With a beautiful smile she tells me, “I have no words and God is my witness. I thank God for having brought Rose like Angel that brought SCORE [a project implemented by MPI in collaboration with AVSI Uganda] to us. She opened our eyes, we are now seeing what we were not seeing. I am the head of the family – I don’t have brothers and I have three sisters. My mother is very old. One time I introduced her to Meeting Point International with a broken rib and she was hospitalized, she received treatment and MPI helped me to pay the bills. I have a husband with five children but he is like my first born, he can’t help, he cannot do anything. I am the one taking care of my mother and children, I work in the market, selling vegetables in the early hours of the morning. I tried to save with a group of shop keepers in the market, but the group was not serious, sometimes the members would refuse to pay back my money. But when MPI introduced us to the SCORE project, I started saving well in Nen Anyim (Going Forward) Group, without worries and so far the money I managed to save it’s over five million (1,400 USD)! My desire is to build a nice house for my mother in the village even if of only one room, let her die at least when she has seen that her daughter has cared for her.”

I am continually learning to be educated by faces of these women and thanks to the women that invited me.

EVEN IF MANY OF THEM LOST EVERYTHING THEY HAD, WHAT ALLOWS THEM TO LOVE AND TRULY POSSESS EVERYTHING

Nicola, a visitor “from the sky”

My name is Francesca; I am doing volunteer services in Kampala working for AVSI in the DSP project. Two days a week, I work in Meeting Point International for the DSP office and I have the occasion of living the gaze that Rose and the social worker have on the children. Some friends, who are MPI donors, visited me for Christmas and they have the chance to visit the Luigi Giussani Schools and to meet the children and the women of Rose.

Two of them were going back to Italy after one week with Rose and the women, they are both teachers and were very moved with what they saw. They were sharing what astonished them on their way back to Italy. Surprisingly the flying attendant, who is an Italian man working for Emirates called Nicola, interrupted their conversation. He asked them where they have been. The two friends were so involved in their conversation that pretended not to hear the question of Nicola. But he insisted on asking them. Why was he insisting and why did the conversation of these two people attract him? At that moment, they told him that they went to visit the daughter of one of the two and some friends. He couldn’t give up and asked: “do you belong to the movement of Communion and Liberation?” Why did he ask this question?  The question made them keep quiet and they were asking themselves, within their hearts, “How did he discover what we belong to”? The friends were speechless because they could not realize how he did notice it.

At that moment, a dialogue started and a friendship starts to link them.  Nicola met the movement years before; he left it and moved to Dubai because he was attracted by the life of the big city. He shouted up every question about God because the intensity of Dubai’s life convinced him that everything he had was enough. But he remembered that years before he heard about Luigi Giussani School and when his job drove him to Kampala he thought to visit them. But he didn’t.

So, on the way back to Dubai (the flight was from Kampala to Dubai) he got interested in the attitude of the two friends. The way those people were talking enquire him about his desires to visit the Schools and he decided to ask. He was moved by the two friends because they witness the beauty they saw. Since the day before Nicola was careless about “what was missing” in his life, but since that very moment, he starts to see the beauty the women were talking about.

He came to Kampala and visit Luigi Giussani Schools and the women of Rose. He was surprised by the intensity of life of these people. Apparently, they were missing many things, but they are aware of what really matters. Rose said, “try to answer the question – who am I? – who are you Agnes, Ronaldo, Bishop, Nicola?”. Nicola did not know what to answer. The woman replied “Who I am? I am someone who someone else is doing. I am not making myself now. I have been created and at that very moment, someone is with me. This relationship is giving me value and gives value to everyone and every feature of reality that I face. Answering to the provocations of reality I can live and discover this value. If I discover who I am I become intelligent and I learn how to relate to reality. Discovering who you mean that everything that you do gain a value”. Nicola realized that the women were not giving the “right answer” but were describing their life. They were talking about the meaning that they experience every moment of their life.

For the fact that Nicola was there, everyone wanted to know him: children, women, the guys of School of Community wanted to know who he was. He said that he had never experienced people who were so freely interested in him. “It is so uncommon that people who are truly curious to discover who you are. These women are capable of loving everyone and everything because they know that they are loved. Even if many of them lost everything they have gained what allow them to love and to truly possess everything”.

Compiled by Francesca Peverelli

2016

 

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

THE JOURNEY TO CONTINUOUS SELF DISCOVERY.

My first glance at the invitation letter, I was inflamed by the words of Aunt Rose, when she said that ‘’I Invite you as a friend, chosen such that you go deeper into the Majesty that has come into this world, that the mystery manifests in the risen Christ and that there is a nothingness that is not lost, even my nothingness is saved’’. This made me, to take a very deep breath, my heart felt like it has reached the source of its origin and my whole day was full of burning desire to reach the day of departure.

We all gathered at Luigi Giussani Pre-Primary and Primary School in Kireka ready for the Journey at 6:00 and .by 6:30 am, the bus arrived and we entered happily in bus ready for the journey. This was a unique and special journey compared to all the trips that we made to Gulu. It involved us to really go deep in understanding God’s love and Mercy towards each one of us. It was accompanied by the singing of various songs that filled our hearts with Joy.

After a six-hour drive, we reached in Gulu Town and we were to sleep and spend most our time at Comboni sisters near the cathedral in Gulu. After dropping our luggage in our respective rooms, we set off to St. Mary’s hospital Lacor to pay a visit to our dear father (Priest) Tibon, who has spent a period of one year in the hospital because he is getting old day and day accompanied with sickness and general body weakness which requires constant medical attention and care. We saw him in his room where he was resting, we sang for him some songs like La strada, Il disegno and many others which made his heart full of gladness that he held the hand of Aunt Rose very tight. At that moment, my heart felt alive and desired the same charisma and faith like that of father Tibon.

After this event, we all left in silence to our bus and went back to Comboni sister’s residence which was near. Our evening was interesting because we started by the sharing of experiences about what has struck us, asking questions and helping each other to move on the same journey. We played football which was really so awesome after which we enjoyed our dinner joyfully.

That night after dinner, we also had a very mysterious moment in the main hall because Aunt Rose shared with us her encounter with father Luigi Giussani and how the gaze of this man changed her life completely, she told us that her first encounter with Giussani was in the lift in Italy, this ‘’man’’ looked at her with different gaze, not usually common, as if she already knew who she was. She shared with us a lot of her experiences with him which did not leave me the same way, I too desired this very same embrace. Full of the fatigue for the whole day, we all went in our Beds in silence, to go deep into the event that had just happened to us that very night.

We slept well like queens and kings and we were woken up by the morning bells of the nearby cathedral, we had a delicious breakfast after which we had morning Prayers and mass led by father Martin, a friend from Gulu. After this we had another moment of the interactive learning session, with our hearts full, we shared, communicated and asked various questions. In our interaction, I was able to learn the true method of following, to always listen to my heart and follow what really corresponds to it.

After all this, we had lunch together, sang songs and we finally went to St. Mary’s hospital to say goodbye to our dear father Tibon and to keep him in our prayers. We came back to our homes very tired because of the long Journey. However, the memories of the event that happened to us will never vanish from our hearts and we will keep on desiring the same for the rest of our lives.

Compiled by Gashumba Emmanuel.

02-09-2016

 

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

 

“HOPE CHANGES EVERYTHING”

Says Kabanda Edward, a 20-year-old student of Luigi Giussani high school.

My name is Mukunda Awaru, a social worker of Meeting Point International in charge of accompanying children supported by DSP program in their path of growth. During the past year I had the opportunity to interact with Edward; at that time, he had just completed his senior four examinations which will help him to be awarded a Uganda certificate of education. I felt happy about his goal and I decided to interview him because the pictures of our path are very similar. Our stories are indeed very similar: when I look back at the time I was Edward’s age, I realize that mine and his stories have many point in common. After the completion of senior six, I never had hope to join the university but as they say, Hope changes everything: I was failing at first but through constant hard work and determination, it was eventually a success for me that I completed. I really got moved by the way he passed through all the challenges up to when he was successful; this is our mission: not to reduce the person to the challenges he encounters but to let him discover that he has an infinite value as Rose Busingye (MPI Director) says it, “The greatest need of a human being is the need of belonging, which gives stability and certainty in all aspects of life. Meeting Point International has discovered that with a belonging you can approach others while taking into account their reality and you can be able to truly embrace him/her whichever are the differences that separate you. MPI creates simple environments where each person can find it easier to belong, and experience love.”

When Edward completed his primary seven, he was unable to join secondary school because by then his uncle Mukabiri Geofrey who was paying his school fees had lost his job. He sat at home for one year, all his hopes of continuing with studies was all gone. He is the fifth born in a family 0f 6 children with 03 brothers and 03 sisters, the other children were studying using the little saving that his uncle had accumulated while he was still in service before he lost his job, his uncle was looking for a way of supporting Edward in secondary school but he failed so Edward decided to sit for a year. His family comes from Iganga district found in the eastern part of Uganda. His parents came to Kampala in search for job opportunities and they settled in Naguru housing estate which was considered redevelopment and the tenants where displaced. Edward’s family relocated to Kiganda zone, a neighboring village to Acholi quarters where Meeting Point International has a center. His father earns very little income by making chapatti, their family burden out weights their income this is why Edward was being paid in school by his uncle. His father lives in the same place, so when he received help from his brother (Edward’s uncle) to support Edward in primary, he was so happy but when it came to secondary, it was a burden for all of them because the uncle could not any more afford to pay his school fees, so Edward did not give up, he knew one day, he would go back to school, the desire for studies kept him awake to focus on his dreams. His father is our client in Meeting Point International and he was active in all the activities of our organization.

During the time he stayed at home without going to school, Edward admired his friends who managed to join secondary school. He often visited them at their homes to try to understand what goes on at secondary level. His closest friend by the names of Tumwa Derrick had joined Luigi Giussani High school and his mother Apia Betty was a member of Meeting Point International. Apia Betty was moved when she got to know that Edward who is a close friend to her son had dropped out of school at primary level. She encouraged him to talk to Rose Busingye (Director of M.P.I) about his challenge because Rose helps needy and vulnerable children like Edward (she supports them). He first hesitated because he is used of hearing of corn men who promise that they are going to pay for people, then in return take their money and the promise becomes false. Apia Betty insisted and kept on telling him to go to Meeting Point International, so one time Apia Betty invited him to go to Meeting Point International Naguru. Edward agreed and went with Betty to Meeting Point International Naguru, when Edward reached, the other women attending the weekly meeting in Naguru wondered why Betty had come with a young boy because the meetings are usually attended by women and besides Rose was out of the country.  Apia Betty talked to Achieng Agnes (one of the field social workers in Naguru) about Edward’s challenge, Agnes called Edward and he narrated his story to her, Agnes was touched and she promised to tell Rose about his situation. Agnes also talked about Edward during the women’s meeting, they too felt concerned about him, however Edward doubted their reaction he thought that ‘’may be the women would isolate him because he was just a small boy’’ but he was surprised with the way he was welcomed and comforted with love and care like he was their own child. He stayed with them and enjoyed their dances, songs and drama when lunch time approached, he was very hungry yet he had no money on him however another surprise unveiled, two women invited him for lunch they bought for him a snack with milk for lunch.

This warm welcome made him feel at home, so every week, he would join them for the weekly meeting where Adult literacy is also conducted to give an opportunity to mothers who never had a chance to study to learn how to write and read.  Each passing week everything was so nice to Edward, he would come, listen to what they study, take breakfast, lunch with them and after go home. Edward that the weekly meetings became his home because he would wake up with no money to eat but the only thing he thought was to go and be with the women. He would come and sit with them, listen and watch what they study and after go home. One day, one of the women told him that she knew some history and geography, she asked him to come with his books so that can teach him geography and history. Edward was very excited he could not wait for the next meeting, when the day he was more than ready to learn, the lady taught him for two weeks. When Rose came back from her journey in Europe she was welcomed with dances and songs of joy often depicting courage and strength in the fight against AIDS. Rose did not realize the presence of a new family member until her next meeting with the women. When she came back a day after, Agnes introduced Edward to Rose and told her about his situation. She also told about the joy that he brings to the women whenever he attends their meetings. Rose asked Edward to go to her office located in Kitintale about five Kilometers from Naguru. When Edward reached Kitintale the next day, Rose asked him, “are you the boy who has been attending with the women?” Edward said he was the one. He wanted to tell her his story Rose kindly said, “Edward I know everything about you because Agnes has explained everything about your situation.  Bring your photos so as to fill a form for you to get someone to support your education”. He went back home very happy, and returned with the photos. Edward knelt down and thanked God for he has answered his prayers. Rose Busingye told Edward that we are going to request for support but it will take a while before the request is answered.  He went home full of gratitude and waited patiently. It was coming to the end of the year when his form was filled and it takes some months to find a sponsor. So another year began when he was still at home, first term elapsed; it was during first term holidays when he finally got a sponsor. He was admitted to Luigi Giussani high school where he has now completed senior four this year.

Compiled by

Mukunda Awaru

2/02/2016

IF SHE’S GIVEN , IT’S LIKE I HAVE ALSO RECEIVED.

GHIt was a Friday 26/11/2015 at 8:00am, I saw this child with her mother and sister at Meeting Point International head office together with gifts that she had received. A child was dressed in white, with a smile. In her smile rose in me a desire to get to know her and to understand what puts that smile on her face. It’s something unexpected yet, so much desired, so I decided to put a question to this family in order to learn more from them.

Bright:  Tell me more about yourself?

Mother: I came from Kitgum district found in the Northern part of Uganda and I am Acholi by tribe; I came here because of the war that was led by the Lord Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony. When I reached Kampala, I settled in Banda B1 a suburb of Kampala district. I found Meeting Point International (M.P.I) was already supporting people and then I joined them because the people looked happier like as if they never had problems. My life started to change, I became happier too.  I found Aunt Rose (Director of M.P.I) there, she took care of me and other women, I discovered as time went on that we were all one. There was friendship, that’s how I came to learn how to love myself and the others, how to stay with people in the community in which I live. We are of different tribes in Meeting Point International but we speak in the same language because of our encounter with Aunt Rose, I give an example:

One day I found a baby who was delivered and dumped. I asked myself if Aunt Rose embraced me with all my nothingness, why not me? Suddenly I picked the child, she is now 6 years old, and I named her Gift Lamaro because to me she is a Gift, she studies from Luigi Giussani Pre- Primary and Primary School and this made me to learn more the meaning of my life.

Bright: How many children do you have?

Mother: With Lamara Gift, there are 11 children and we are very happy because one of them finished a course at the university and she was supported since primary, I am filled with gratitude towards Meeting Point International because all my children are supported.

Bright: How long have you been in Meeting Point International?

Mother: It’s now 13 years.

Bright: What would you say to the sponsor of Kitui Lydia?

Mother: I cannot find appropriate words to express myself to her but the only thing I can say to her is that, I am very thankful for the support given to Kitui Lydia and my family. All the children are happy because of the support. We received mattresses not only for Kitui but also for the others, I pray that God protects her and makes her happy.

Bright: What do you do?

Mother: I sell paper beads and sometimes I go to the stone Quarry in order to support my family. I am also in the village saving groups with the other women of meeting Point International, this saving has also helped me to support my family.

Bright: What did Kitui receive?

Mother: I am very, very happy because it is a very good thing to me; she received 3 mattresses, a triple decker, 2 pairs of bed sheets and a dress.

Bright:  I also asked her sister Irene who was present at that moment how she felt when her sister receives a gift!!!

Namasaba Irene (Sister): I feel great because the sponsor is showing a lot of love towards my sister, so I feel happy for her because  my sister  is like myself , if she’s given , it’s like I have also received.

Bright: Lydia was more excited and she responded before I could ask her any question.

Kitui Lidia:  I am 6 years old and what I can say to my sponsor is that I am very happy. I am in primary one; I am studying from Luigi Giussani Pre-Primary and Primary school and I also love the school, I love the new dress.

After talking to Lydia and her family, I want to constantly remember that family, every day.

Written by,

Rumanyika Bright

 

                                                                                                                                                      17/12/2015

 

 

 

 

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

VISIT TO NAIROBI-KENYA

Meeting Point International is fully committed towards enhancing the value of the person, in order to promote his/her human growth, help him/her discover the meaning of life and make a true experience of freedom. Any person sincerely true to him/herself, wherever he/she may live, perceives a desire of happiness that is never exhausted; the human heart asks for something else, something that goes beyond and over him/her. When the person experiences such level of awareness in his/her relationship with everything, with the whole reality, he/she starts knowing something about mystery. Such a human position puts the person in action; he/she is no longer a surrender or passively waiting for events, rather he/she becomes an actor of development for him/herself, his/her family, community and country. Through an organized and effective response to the daily needs of the people we encounter, our development cooperation work is also aimed at raising the essential questions on the meaning and sense of life. The continuous educative possibly for self discovery through many activity where everyone can live a comparison and consciousness of themselves, this is done through tours in the hills, touring towns, valleys lakes and rivers, game parks , seminars guide films, songs and guided reading books. This is also done for our patients to rediscover the meaning and the beauty of things. This is always done with the guidance of Rose Busingye and friends of Meeting Point International.

Women and men of Meeting Point International from Kireka and Naguru, visited Nairobi-Kenya on 11-13 September 2015. This tour comprised of a cache of psychosocial activities including singing, drama, sharing of experiences between the women of Meeting Point International, visit to Nairobi city, visit to the cathedral, visit to Mazuri Market where many of African crafts are displaced, interactive sessions etc. during the activities the women and men interacted freely and this created a stronger bond with in themselves. This kind of bond attracted so many other people in Kenya to come and listen to how the women have really become free, this is portrayed in the song ‘I am now free’ composed and sung by the women of Meeting Point International. This is what attracts people to live like them for them, they are free indeed, no fear of any difficulties in front of them. The women had a chance to interact with Rose Busingye on the theme of ‘understanding the importance of our life’. ‘There is something greater inside yourself, if I look at you and see the way you present yourself, the way you dress, even the way you look, this means that I will reduce you to all that, it is common we start from the appearance of the person not the real person. We do not treat a piece of the person, we treat the whole person but if you understand that you have a value, you treat everyone with value. You see if somebody decides to spend money on you, it means you have a value and if everyone understands this, you will conquer the whole world and if you go deep and understand the value of your life, you treat everything with value. We cannot be determined by the difficulties we pass through because they come and go but life remains. We need to live a life with simplicity, those difficulties will pass. Let difficulties not make us unstable but if you know I have a value and when you take yourself that, I am not this difficulty, my life has a meaning’

Sharing experience

The Women and Men of Meeting Point International had the opportunity to share their life experiences about the discovery of the value and dignity, a simple encounter and events that resulted into appreciations of things surrounding them and giving thanks to even difficult situations that made it possible to realize the meaning of everything in front them.

Adong Ketty gave her experience on how she survived the rebels who had killed her brother. She worked with the rebels and they did each kind of bad things to her to the point of even getting affected and infested with the HIV/AIDS virus. She had lost hope in her life but the encounter with Rose Busingye changed her story, she could not imagine someone she did not know could take care of her. This Gaze has changed everything that surround her and because of the love, belonging, she is now free and she appreciates everything in front of her.

Teddy Bongomin, a field social worker and a ‘mother’ for the women gave an experience of how hard it was after losing her husband, everybody neglected her even the very friends, relatives she thought would support her in this difficult situation turned her down. It was a hard situation indeed to face yet she has a burden of her children and five more not related to her that she has to take care of. But because she has discovered herself and understands the value of her life, she treats every one with value and besides all the difficulties she passes through, life remains.

There are so many other mothers who also shared their personal experiences of self discovery and dignity, all of them passionately talked about times of difficulties in their lives and their families. They confirm that a person who discovers his value discovers beauty of life and lives in freedom and happiness this person is not afraid of anything. The mothers and the youth were moved by the experiences of their colleagues, Rose Busingye did the recap of the sessions explaining into details what this “value” means, she said everything that is done has this value inside, and nothing is disconnected from this “value”.

 

The tour to the Nairobi city

This is a time when everyone was waiting for, when the women were asked whether to take a tour in the park and visiting the Nairobi-town, it was a Yes to Nairobi town where everyone was longing to see the beauty in the town. With the help of our tour guides, we boarded the buses with smiles all over the faces of the women from Maria Polis place where they were staying up to Nairobi town. It was all over the streets of city to see them overwhelmed and with happiness in the face. They reached at Uhuru Park, located in the middle of the city, walked on the streets, saw the place where Jomo Kenyatta was buried, the parliament, Lunar Park, then to the beautiful cathedral where we entered and looked at the beauty in the church. From there, we moved to the Mazuri market where most of the African crafts are displaced and sold, it was indeed beautiful! We also looked a beautiful lake in the city and tall buildings. We passed through the tunnel and saw good roads, one was surprised about a road with cars passing down, others passing up, which looked so more beautiful. Nairobi now has super highways, bypasses and little avenues that are not only well constructed, but well maintained. Of course, there are still some parts of the city that have a few potholes here and there, but most of it has roads that can match up to international standards. This makes transport within and without the city much less of a nightmare as is with many African nations, or as it used to be in Nairobi itself. After visiting the town, it was time to go and have lunch. After reaching our place, it was dancing, it was not on tiredness, it was not tiredness any more, it was happiness, nobody would think about tiredness.

Why a visit to Nairobi city

Nairobi has amazing weather; towering skyscrapers with mesmerizing lights; beautiful parks that allowed us to have a deep breath with the environment around, Yes, Nairobi is a beautiful city. The ‘beauty of the city’ was on the look of the infrastructures, shopping malls, housing, the people that were around us, parks etc. The city’s parks are places you can go and just breathe for a period of time such as Uhuru Park, Jeevanjee Gardens and many others. The parks are plush and serene part of the city, ingeniously incorporated into the cityscape. Drop into one of these parks for sights of the city’s most peaceful side, where people come to chill, reminisce and relax.

Nairobi has it all. Big office building skyscrapers; multinational companies; small business enterprises; an industrial area that simply won’t stop churning out the necessary goods and high speed internet connection to the rest of the world. If there is ever any place in Kenya where you can be whatever you want to be, that place will be Nairobi. Dreams have come true and fortunes have been made here. All you need is the right mix of intellect, ambition and drive. Nairobi will provide you with the opportunity and the infrastructure to make your dreams come true.

Kenya is generally a nation full of very friendly and neighborly people. In Nairobi, you never know what kind of connections you will make; be it business or social. For that very reason, almost everyone is very friendly towards everyone else. They are ready to smile, ready to assist (mostly with directions) and always up for a party.

Opportunities to observe all the above are important to our viewing experience and have an aesthetic importance, as well as helping especially older people recall previous home environments, maintaining healthy mental activity, promoting awareness of time and reducing boredom. This is crucial because many of our beneficiaries live far away from their homes of origin which they are not able to visit often.

 

Report written by

Mukunda Awaru                         IMG_0199                                                               11th -13th September 2015

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

STUDYING BECAME INTERESTING.

Mwaka Emmanuel is a 25-year-old boy born in Naguru a suburb of Kampala district, He encountered MEETING POINT INTERNATIONAL through His mother (ALOYO SYLVIA) who was a client. He tells his story here below.

I got the opportunity to study with the help of MEETING POINT INTERNATIONAL, I never had a thought that I would make it in my education following the event of 2012 when we had a strike at school (CITY HIGH SCHOOL), I was pointed out as a ringleader for the strike and I was asked by the school to come along with my parent.  I didn’t care so I did not tell my mother.  I stayed in the village looking for what to do, I got a job of loading and offloading sacks of food and one time, I was arrested.  regardless of what  happened, I never lost hope because of the friendship my mother had with Aunt Rose ( MPI Director) I say this because  in 2014, to my greatest surprise, my mother told me that there was a chance for me, Meeting Point International had got a sponsor for me ,I was overjoyed that I asked to join Luigi Giussani High school where I completed my ordinary level and was awarded a certificate which enabled me to join an institute  known as YMCA Comprehensive Institute where I took up  a course  in travel and tourism management because I liked traveling to different places, discovering new things ,this has been my desire since my childhood.

During my studies, one thing that kept me going was the conversation that I had with Aunt Rose; when she asked me why I dropped out in the first place and I told her that it was because of stubbornness, she told me if you desired to ever go back to school there is always a chance for you, for this reason, studying became interesting because Aunt Rose cared for me and now I have finished my course, I am now looking for a job to take care of my family.

Compiled by Jude

Mbakire Jessica (a 38-year-old HIV positive woman)

I remember waking up with many nurses around me, confirming that this was not a dream; I was HIV positive, and the world was swallowing me up. It was after having given birth to my second child that I began falling sick regularly. I wondered why this was happening, and I talked to my husband who was always so quiet about the topic. He was so arrogant to me when I asked what could be wrong that I decided to go alone for a blood test at the hospital. This was when I was found to be HIV positive. This is when I collapsed, waking up to these nurses in what felt like a nightmare. When I went home I told my husband about this, but he was not bothered, as if he knew already everything that was going to happen. We returned to the hospital and they put us on ARV. My husband’s CD4 was already very low and after a year he died. That was in 2002. I was so confused about where to begin; I was remaining alone with two children and I did not have any source of income to support us. I began falling sick regularly and amidst this my sister brought me to Kampala to stay with her. She and her husband tried their best to look after me by taking me to the hospital. But still, they could not afford the drugs I needed.

One day my sister’s friend came to visit and found me sleeping on the ground. She asked my sister who I was and what was happening to me. When my sister told her of my problems, this woman said she was a member of an organization called Meeting Point International, and that they could help me.
I went with my sister to the first meeting and we found very many people – mostly women – seated on the waiting bench. We also sat there, when it came to my turn, a lady with a smiling face welcomed me and listened as I told her that I was sick. She asked me for documents that confirm my sickness, told me how the organization works and how she could help me. I was registered in their book as a new client then another lady took us to introduce ourselves to the other women whom we found busy studying. They welcomed us with big handclaps, and that was the moment I realized that I wasn’t alone.

Each one of these women had a story of suffering just as I did. I found myself sympathizing with them, almost forgetting my own suffering. I have learned that everyone I meet in life may be passing through the hardest experience on this earth. I looked at my problems as being easy after I heard one of the clients tell the story of her having a zero CD4 count, as she stood there smiling and looking well.
The day I met the director, my strength even grew further, her smile to me was unmistakable. She loved me and I could see it. Despite my disease, I could see that she loved me. I later started ART through Nsambya hospital- in a few months my CD4 count increased, I was also enrolled into the WFP and my children started receiving school fees. I have no exact manner in which I can thank MPI for giving me back my life, but I know that I want to spread this joy they have given me to other women out there who are in a place like I was before I came here.

 

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

Florence’s story

My name is Apolot Florence and I am 35 years old, from the eastern part of Uganda in a district called Bukedea. I am HIV positive. When I realized I was HIV positive I became worried, and weak. The symptoms of HIV had begun appearing as a rash all over my body, a cough, and pain everywhere. After a year of my husband telling me that there was no problem and to forget it, I went for testing where they confirmed my fears.
I thought I was going to die very soon. I would stay indoors because there was nobody in the community who I could tell my status to after even my own relatives had rejected me. They said that they were not the ones who sent me to get this virus, so they would also not be the ones to cure me!
My family separated my plates, cups and wash basins fearing that I would infect them. They even decided to isolate me to a house away from theirs and dig a hole inside that house for me to defecate in so that I wouldn’t disturb them.

When the rainy season came with the cold they said I would surely die. When I began coughing, the people in the village were saying that I was not going to live more than a month. When I would hear such words I was very worried and had sleepless nights. It was one of these nights I decided to write a letter to my sister who was staying in Kampala. She arranged for me to come stay with her, and told me of Meeting Point International.

I came to MPI and found Aunt Teddy here. She welcomed me to come to a meeting with the other women. At first I was fearing to talk to the women because there were very many. Over time though I realized that I liked the singing, dancing and making beads. After some time Auntie Rose came and she welcomed me too. I told Aunt Rose about my status, and my children who were at home without school. Aunt Rose gave me the money to send the children to school, to resume treatment, and even the money for rent. After this I began feeling better, and at a certain point I thought I would travel back to village as I was strong enough to live without the support of Meeting Point. I was taking my medicine, though I had to travel far to the health center, but I saw that life had again become difficult. I said to myself, “what is the problem now?!” I realized that even though I was on my medication there was a big part of life that was different in the village, and that was that I had nobody to talk to about my problems or share my happiness. I realized that as much as the ARVs were helping me, it was still of no good without also having the love of others.
So as much as I thank Rose and Meeting Point for everything they have done, the greatest thing that I have been given is the love, peace, and a hope for life. I feel very fine now, and wish to tell my story to any other person who might be feeling as I was. This love is the greatest cure I have found!

 

SIX YEARS OF GRATITUDE

I have taken a good number of years teaching Adult Literacy classes in Meeting Point International in Naguru. In the beginning, this work was quite complicated since I was used to teaching young primary school pupils. In MPI I began handling mature people who are comfortable in their deep-rooted habits. The big number of women looked to be tired and unmotivated to classroom work so I could find myself in front of the mature classroom with serious dedication problems.

Everything seemed to be not easy for me because my idea of the school had something to do with giving instructions to pupils that had to be followed. I was totally focused on my thoughts and I was thus getting upset with some women.

One day I got struck when I heard of a life story from one of my student (woman). We had received visitors and the Director Rose told the students (women) share their life experiences. She told the visitors that she was victim of the prolonged rebel activity in the northern region of Uganda where she grew up from, she was abducted and made to feed on human flesh, raped and got infected with HIV and AID many people who listened including me got emotional and started shading tears. When we closed our activities that day I went home, but something was hurting me. I felt I have been judgmental to my students, I prayed asking Christ to forgive me and to give me the grace change my gaze and to love all my students (women). I also realized that nothing depends on our effort, for this reason, I began to experience a change of attitude because the more I stayed with them, the more I loved my students and the more they opened up to me. All mentioned happened to me within the first few months… Now it is six years since I started teaching them, we do English language, Mathematics, Health Science and Music Dance and Drama. Six years of teaching the women have been very interesting and adventurous, I have learned a lot from my students (women) and fellow workers. In fact, it has been a journey to discovering my real life and value my humanity which is rooted in the “infinite”. We all need a company like this to walk.

I cherish my students for providing me the best companionship as I discover my life.

Written by Tr. Wasswa Yusuf and Compiled by Lumanyika Jude.

2014

VINCENT FINDS HOME!

In the photo are students of Luigi Giussani High School

“I began to live and work when someone told me that you are mine”, Rose’s speech at the 30 years’ celebration of AVSI in Uganda in 2015.

Found under the tree with death certificate of his mother, Vincent was taken by the women of MEETINGPOINT INTERNATIONAL. He has now become one of them. Teddy Bongomin a leader for the women of MPI at Kireka narrates to me this story.

One sunny morning I and the women engaged in the daily activities such as making paper beads and singing of songs, suddenly one of us notices a boy of 13 years old seated under a tree, she feels a need to move towards him, invite him to come and join them, approaching him, Vincent cannot speak, in his heads is a death certificate of his deceased mother plus a medical form, to her greatest surprise, he is HIV positive. She takes him to a group of women asking what to do with him because they can’t live him alone. In her experience, she said “I encountered someone who looked at me with a value”. This makes me feel wanted, for this reason looking at Vincent, I see myself. With the other women, we decided to educate him, we contributed money and took him back to school with the help of Aunt Rose (DirectorMPI), and he is now on drugs. Now he is in senor one at Luigi Giussani High school. Vincent has found a home with the Women and now he is very happy.

 For privacy I used Vincent. – written by Jude 

AMONY ALICE (WOMAN OF MEETING POINT INTERNATIONAL)

Amony Alice says that she stayed with the daughter of her sister in law, called Awir, Annett for 15 years. Alice paid for Annett’s school fees from primary one to primary six. Annett’s father had died long ago when she was still a baby and left the wife Annett’s mother with other children. The lady had no official job or business to do so as to earn a living. The condition in which Annett’s mother lived after the death of her husband moved Amony to help her stay with one of the children Awar Annett.

While in school Amony failed to get money to pay for Annett’s school fees. So she sat at home with the other girls in the village. In her vending business, all that happened forced Amony to take Annett back to the village in Aoyama district, Minakulu village in the north of Uganda. She (Annett) kept digging for people in order for her to sustain herself and family.

When Amony went to Gulu with MEETING POINT INTERNATIONAL both women and youth for a tour. Youth shared their experiences and from those experiences Among realized the value of her humanity and this moved her. From that moment, she realized the need to welcome Annett back in her home. Amony says that her attitude towards Annet changed.

Published by Lumanyika Jude

 

ALOYO GLADYS, A FORMER STUDENT OF LUIGI GIUSSANI HIGH SCHOOL.

Before I joined the movement, I was someone who had lost track of life. I was living just for the sake of the things that were happening. When I joined Luigi Giussani High school my mother asked me if I can join the school of Community. At that time, everything for me was nothing, I asked my mother to let me judge about what to do or not. By then my elder brother (Ocaka) who was different among many of my brothers asked me to give it a try. My first time everything seemed to be confusing but I remember only one thing that Aunt Rose said that if one gains value, one looks at everything even the most useless things with the value. Meaning that “everything gains value”.

I decided to go back to the school of the community for that one thing that I heard from Aunt Rose but every time it seemed not enough because everything began to correspond, giving meaning to my life. The affection towards the community school grow and I can say with certainty that life is beautiful to live.

Published by Lumanyika Jude

March, 2014

Vincent (a 17-year-old student at Luigi Giussani High School)

“I come from a poor family in Lira where I lived with my father, Onyenye. My mother is not there. I was brought to Kampala by a relative who loved me, and said I should come and study in Kampala because I had spent almost three or four years out of school due to financial problems.
A common problem here is that of jealousy. When others members of the family saw how I excelled in school they got bitter and said I should go to the village and study no more. I was determined to continue my studies though, and found a friend of mine who I had been working with in a construction site. He found for me a school where I could work in order to pay my school fees, but this was a very difficult arrangement.
One day I explained my problems to a woman involved with MPI. I knew of Meeting Point International because there are many of my tribes there in Kireka. This woman, Adong took me to MPI in Kireka where I met Margaret. I was very surprised that when I told Margaret my name she began to cry. She said that MPI had been looking for me, but said that a relative had told them I had gone mad and died!
To my surprise, I also wept and cried with this thought that someone could be so bitter towards me. She told me to be strong hearted though, and that God has a good plan for me and things would become better with time.
I met Rose, who told me “you are not defined by the circumstances around you; you have a value.” I almost cried again because it was my first time to see someone who is even not my tribe mate saying I have a value. I was shocked and moved with in me totally, I failed to understand her because she embraced me with un usual love.
When Aunt Rose started paying for me fees I had the problem of accommodation because I could not stay with the one who said I was dead. MPI arranged for a place for me to stay. I found belonging with others and saw that out that my nothingness came the same one that has catered for and died for my happiness, justice and love.
I’ve learned about the Uganda Martyrs and that has made me very strong hearted no matter what comes my way. With all that had happened I am moved most by the love and support of Meeting Point International women of Kireka who not only embraced me but also accepted me their son and keep collecting money for my well-being.
I remember when Aunt Rose said that ‘you are surrounded by angels everywhere, angles are surrounded you’. May God help me in my education that was cursed by many people and may God bless all Meeting Point International.”

 

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.