March 2023. We saw each others faces.
Updated: May 7
It had been too long.
Too long in a country where trust has been eroded for decades.
Too long for a partnership so young.
But when we saw each other faces...
after 1,333 days apart, the hope we carry drew in a big long breath, exhaled slowly and stayed with us. Safe with us.
The Learning Centre that Followings built in 2017 looked immaculate. Well-used but so carefully cared for and tended to. Free classes at the Centre ran for most of those 1,333 days we spent apart. Still the Centre, tall and resplendent in the Ugandan sun, feels new and exciting and full of possibilities!
We spent our time in Busubi sharing stories, ideas and meals with each other. We talked about community needs and signs of distress. We took walks and met with local villagers. Everyone knows someone who has attended and learned at the Centre. We met with students of the Centre who have used the computers to independently study online courses in German language, Digital Journalism and Video Production. We ate more meals. We ate more chapatti (IYKYK).
We talked about what has worked and what needs improving. What maintenance is urgent and what can wait? How can our next tailoring contract turn a higher profit? We talked about money and fundraising and how we can run better, longer if we understand business bookkeeping.
We talked about the sustainability of it all - in all forms. How can we leave less of a footprint? How can we provide this free training for willing learners for as long as possible? How can we grow? How can the people of Busubi feel complete ownership of this Centre they have filled with knowledge and laughter and music and dance and life and love for almost 6 years now?
Together, we wrote a funding proposal for $15,000 for income generating projects - printing, tailoring and a fabulous music, dance & drama troupe - and another for $15,000 for maintenance and repair costs to get the Centre through its next 1,333 days. We're still waiting to hear back. We're incredibly hopeful.
Followings laid out our plan to raise $25,000 over the next 12 months to keep paying staff wages and operational costs. Our partners, Busubi Empowered Communities laid out their plan to generate income through a small store, more tailoring contracts and providing a venue for soccer fans to watch their favourite teams win matches.
When we began in 2017 we were face-to-face four wonderful times within the first 550 days. Until the world stopped.
The 1,333 days that passed after that were a test. A test of the strength of our partnership. A test of the leaders of both Followings Foundation and Busubi Empowered Communities.
With your support and our visit in March, we know that we have passed the test and we are looking towards an even brighter future together.
Webale nyo nyo nyo nyo.
(Thank you very very very very much)