So now you know where the KRMA came from. The women in Kobulubulu would always refer to themselves by their entire name: Kobulubulu Ribere me Mon Association. But I had a little trouble rolling that off my tongue, so I asked if I could refer to them as KRMA. They had a meeting about this and decided they liked it very much and have been calling themselves KRMA ever since I left.
This was my first lesson in the power of questions with this group of wonderful women. I asked a question out of my own inability to pronounce their language. They took my question seriously, responded to it, and adopted it as their own identity. I have become more circumspect in my questions, recognizing that I had never realized my request would warrant such care-filled consideration.
As I read more about donor organizations and micro-financing efforts in Africa, I am growing even more aware of how very much I need to learn to “do no harm” in my well-intentioned desire to aid these well-deserving women in eastern Uganda. As one colleague has said in encouraging me, “Your ignorance isn’t a reason to not move forward. They need your assistance and are offering you their trust. But be careful. Start small to give you and them a chance to develop your respective capacities.”
We are starting small. Adding twenty acres of agricultural development may seem to us a large undertaking, but it is a project that allows each of the 20 members of KRMA to develop one additional acre for which she will be accountable to the entire collective. Moreover, it is not my idea. I asked for a project that involved work they already knew how to do, that they believed would be successful, that would have a chance of producing enough profit to pay their children’s school fees and reinvest in the project so that it could become self-sufficient within five years. They worked hard to develop this proposal. Now it is my job to see if people here in the U.S. will help me to help them make it happen.
My job is small in the large scheme of things. We only need to raise $12,000 to get this entire year’s work done. And yet right now, this undertaking feels huge to me. I am not a professional fund-raiser. I’ve only raised 10% of what we need to get this project off the ground (although 50% of what I need to take with me at the end of July so they can begin Stage 1).
On the other hand, 7 wonderful people have contributed thus far, and several more have let me know they intend to help. This first year, when we can’t apply for grant money because we have no track record, and haven’t yet cleared our 501c3 status will be our toughest I figure. But as I gaze at the photo above, I remember the joy of these women who have been through so much.
How can I remain discouraged in the face of their courage, in the face of their joy?
I can’t. And so I give thanks to each and every person who has taken a moment to read about the women of Kobulubulu.
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