Positive Change in Uganda

Did you catch the hype and fury around the KONY 2012 video about Uganda last week? The video, by Invisible Children, Inc. told about the violence in Uganda in the recent past. However, many people in Uganda are presenting their own responses to the video.

“How do you tell the story of Africans?” asks Rosebell Kagumire, a Ugandan blogger, “because if you are showing me as voiceless, as hopeless… you shouldn’t be telling my story if you don’t believe that I also have the power to change what is going on.”

Ugandan Coordinator trains new business members

Godfrey shares the growth of SIA in his community.

How people and organizations present their work is as important as the work itself. Is the grant recipient downcast, child-like, and dirty? Or are they smiling, confident, encouraged?

Meeting all our Spirit in Action Small Business Fund Coordinators last summer in Kenya confirmed for me that THEY are the work of Spirit in Action. Our coordinators are not voiceless or hopeless – they are leaders working to make their communities better places to live.

Today I want to share some excerpts from my interview with Godfrey Matovu, SBF Coordinator in Uganda, about his work to uplift and empower his fellow community members. I hope that listening to him tell his story will also confirm for you that Godfrey, and all of our SIA partners, have the power to change their communities.

Godfrey Matovu:
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: One time a local leader asked and I had to explain about Spirit in Action and what it is doing. I explained to him: SIA is bringing people together in Uganda.

Ugandans learning how to weave baskets

Ugandans learning how to weave baskets

COMPASSIONATE WORK AT THE CROSSROADS: “I organize and I train [people] and people know they are welcome to learn or to work. So these things come through Spirit in Action. One of the local leaders said, “this thing that you are sharing, is very good. Why don’t you start over there [at the crossroads] – they are drunkards.” So we are targeting the youth at the crossroads. I started teaching them how to start a business; the handicraft work [like weaving, pottery, and brickmaking]. I tell them “you can make this, you can make this.” We started to gain respect. So far we have trained thirteen people. I am planning more small workshops, for the school dropouts, and those who have lost their parents to come and to start doing this quality work. So that is why I give.

ON DEL ANDERSON, SIA FOUNDER: “I tell people that Del Anderson came from a poor family. So he decided also to help the poor. I tell them and they understand.

HELPING THOSE WITH HIV/AIDS: “There are people who are not involved in these programs who are suffering. So what do I do? I just care and counsel them, just give them advice when they are sick or suffering with AIDS. What do I do? I just counsel them; tell them how to handle the sick.

DEALING WITH PREJUDICE: “Sometimes, most especially in Africa, when you are suffering from HIV/AIDS, some people they fear to touch you, they fear to be near you. So I go there and I am preaching the word of God. I again talk to them and the members who are around, tell them not to avoid him or her, just to get friendship with him.

Godfrey Matovu (Uganda) and Tanya Cothran in Kenya, August 2011

Godfrey and Tanya in Kenya, August 2011

DEFINING CARE: “I remember I went to one family and met with a man who was sick. He had skin that was [bad]. He was not doing much bathing or washing. So I started helping, that is what I call care.

GIVING THANKS“So I have to thank you for this brotherhood of workers. It is not easy but I am doing very good. They are doing very good. We have the groups there [in Uganda] and we are doing good.”

Thank you, Godfrey, and all SIA partners, for serving God by empowering others! We are honored to support these committed change-agents.

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4 Responses to “Positive Change in Uganda”

  1. Donna Thomas March 14, 2012 1:01 am
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    there is such a different feel to this post than to the KONY 2012 campaign. I didn’t watch the video, just read about the shock and awe technique they employ to get peoples’ attention. I prefer to be shown the hope that encircles the caring workers for change and I know that in the long term, the change can be sustainable. Thanks.

  2. Boyd March 14, 2012 10:01 am
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    Thank you, Tanya for sharing these portions of your interview! Godfrey is such a wonderful person. I miss him and cannot wait to see him again, soon.

  3. Tanya Cothran March 14, 2012 8:32 pm
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    I agree, Donna! Sustainability is important and it depends on vibrant local movements and local leaders.

  4. marsha johnson March 22, 2012 9:18 pm
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    Godfrey is planting seeds of hope and possibility. These seeds grow and multiply. Those developing skills and confidence under the leadership of the Small Business Fund coordinators are bringing new life to their communities. This is the kind of message that is empowering and life-affirming. I’m giving thanks for this witness.
    In God’s fullness,
    Marsha

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