Saturday, January 23, 2010

a visit to lucy's

Every time I visit Lucy's home (photo, left), I'm simply amazed at the changes. Her homestead is a true testament to the effect One Mango Tree has on women's lives in Uganda.

Her homestead, which always seemed spacious, is now filled with new buildings. She re-roofed three of the grass-thatched huts last year (an expensive endeavor in itself - this cost her $500). I was so shocked by the new buildings that I had to sit down with Lucy at work today and review all the changes. She took a break from her training class and joined me in the office. I pulled out a calculator and Lucy started running through improvements.

When I first visited the homestead in 2008, she had four grass-thatched huts. There are now nine, and a three-room brick home being built by her orphaned nephew, John. One Mango Tree helps to pay the fees for his schooling, where he is learning construction at a vocational school.

Lucy told me a long time ago that the homestead (photo, left) was not really her home. That land belonged to her brother, who had died during the war. In Acholi culture, that means that Lucy has no real ownership of the homestead - it belongs to her nephews. She'd always dreamed of buying her own piece of land. In 2009 she did just that - she saved up $2,250 and bought her own land not far from the homestead. This year she plans to start construction on her own house there - fulfilling a long-held dream.

We got pretty teary-eyed at the office today talking about the changes. All the children are speeding along in their studies, and Lucy's dad was cheery during our visit on Friday - sitting outside the new brick home his grandson is building (photo, right). She's now sending money to the village, where many of her relatives have returned to that Northern Uganda is peaceful.

It gives a lot of hope to all of us to see how things can really change.

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