She is a true hero and has sacrificed many conveniences and luxuries to live a modest (understatement) life in Uganda. There are 240 kids in the school and about 100 women who use the co-op. The co-op is structured so that women can work on the farm or make crafts in exchange for health care or children's tuition.
They use solar power and water is available (they use a foot pump that looks like a stair-master) to fill the water tower manually from the well- the water is in limited supply and used sparingly. The whole operation is actually losing money- not many people are able to pay for health care so they use points earned though working at the co-op. The co-op crafts are sold in Tekera which was at the end of a very long winding dirt road and doesn't fet any tourist traffic.
One item that she sells for 5000 shillings ($2.50 US) is a "delivery bag" for expectant moms. It has all the necessary items to ensure a safe birth- a piece of plastic so the newborn isn't put down on a dirt floor, two pieces of wool to tie the umbilical cord, a clean razor to cut it, a pair of gloves a present for the new baby (a small hat or pair of socks).
The babies are delivered by a labor assistant. This is an experienced lay person. She said that many of them cannot count so when they deliver a baby, they put a stone in a jar. The government official may visit the assistants to keep track of the census- the official will then count the stones in the jar. Less than 10 % of pregnant women in this region receive prenatal care.
My special companion today was a beautiful little girl named Rachel. She was about 5, followed me around all afternoon- no adult was in sight- there were small kids wandering all around the co-op. She was wearing an old dress that was torn beyond repair and covered in dirt. She had no shoes. She held my hand and walked with me, sat on my lap- had a contagious laugh with such a twinkle in her eyes that made me cry. She was playing with my BlackBerry and loved taking pictures with it and looking at them. She quickly learned how go from one photo to the next and giggled as she looked at pictures of my kids doing silly things.
She made my heart melt.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry