Monday, August 9, 2010

Proof: Lucy's dream

My parents' decision to make a trip out to Uganda was a huge one for me. In the four years I've been working here, I dreamed often about them making the trip - but never quite figured it would happen. Their trip was a bit of a whirlwind - filled with lots of new experiences (for my mom, One Mango Tree's US Business Manager, this was her first trip out of the United States). As easily predicted, getting up to Gulu was the most important part. For me, it was building that final piece in the bridge to bring together the disparate pieces of my life since first coming to Uganda. Mom and Dad could finally understand what I am doing here.

The Butvins are project people at heart - we're most happy when we have something to construct or paint. After one night in Gulu, they announced at breakfast that they would be spending the rest of their time turning our large store room into a daycare for the nine {plus} kiddos that come to work with the ladies each day. After hours and hours of painting trees, lions and giraffe, we cleaned up and headed out to dinner at Lucy's in the golden glow of a typical Gulu twilight.

As usual, Mama Lucy was full of surprises. A couple of months ago, when checking on that status of a transfer to Lucy's account, the bank teller dropped her jaw - "and you say this woman is in Gulu? I have never, in all my time with Barclays, seen a checking account with such a continuous high balance!" So, I knew Lucy was saving, but she didn't dare spill the beans... until my parents arrived. While dinner finished up on the cookstove, we took a walk on the windy paths behind her grass-thatched hut - the one she's lived in since her brother died and she took on raising all of her nieces and nephews.

Not five minutes from her little hut, we came upon a large brick home, sheltered on one side by a clump of mango trees, and complete with a front porch. Lucy is building her home.

When I met Lucy in 2007, during the hours we spent talking together about her hopes and dreams, she was always focused. First, the kids must be in school. Second, she must help the boys to build their own huts on her brother's land. Third, she must buy her own land. Fourth and finally, Lucy must build her own house. Not three years later, she is fully realizing her dream.

With my parents there to see the house, those final pieces came together - the big reminder of why One Mango Tree exists at all, and the proof that the work we do is really making big changes. One woman's dream is now accomplished, and many more are on the way.

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