Today was our final day visiting a village and it very nearly ended when it had barely begun, thanks to a bit of misunderstanding. We arrived at today’s community to find a nearly empty church and a man who said that when some muzungu had visited previously, they had promised money for the village, the money hadn’t arrived and they hoped that we were bringing it. Our PAG partners were shocked by this revelation, especially as more people gathered and it emerged that many had just come along for money. Phone calls were made, conversations were had with the bishop and the village elders. Those involved in PEP said that they did not want to share their stories with us as they felt betrayed.

BubblesThe bubbles were definitely a good buy! 

While the situation was being sorted out, we played with children, wondering if we’d soon just be getting back into the vans and returning to Soroti. But fortunately, Ben, Odiira and the bishop were able to sort it all out and within an hour, we were back inside the church. (Well, by ‘sorted’ I mean that the bishop has told the local pastors that he’ll come and visit and explain soon.) There was still a lot of suspicion throughout the rest of the visit which at times was difficult to know how to deal with.

John Julius & his calvesJohn Julius – a major PEP success – with some of his livestock.

In the other places, people were keen to show us how PEP had inspired them to look at their own resources and sustain themselves through what they’d learnt. Here, there was still clearly a hope within some in the community that the arrival of muzungu would lead to handouts. We don’t know the whole situation, but I hope that those who have not become involved in PEP and simply came along thinking that they might get some money, will have listened to the amazing PEP testimonies we heard and been inspired themselves.

Jennifer's homeGrace – who once wore rags, but now is one of the best-dressed women in the village!

At some point this week, one of the Ugandans whose life has been changed by PEP mentioned the story of ‘give a man a fish…’. As I heard the translator explain this, I giggled to myself as it’s exactly the parable I’ve used to illustrate the point of the initiative back home. We’ve seen over and over again this week just how much can be achieved through empowerment rather than handouts, so it was sad in some ways to meet people who were still hoping for those, rather than taking their lives into their own hands.

Baby & bubbles

But at the same time, today brought some really special stories – which I’ll try and share tomorrow, probably during our long wait for our flight home at the airport.

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