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Mar 11, 2020

Construction is complete!

The Vocational Training Center!
The Vocational Training Center!

We are so excited to announce that the constrution on the Vocational Training Center for Rose and her women's collective is complete! We are in very regular contact with Rose, and our One Light Uganda Program and Field Coordinators Angela and Eldoma. Next steps are to confirm budgeting for materials, and to purchase solar panels, sewing machines and materials in order to get the Center up and running as soon as possible. Thank you to all who have contributed thus far to help Rose and these amazing women preserve the cultural tradition of making Milayas, while creating economic opportunities for the women of this refugee settlement, who are leading the movement of sustainabiity and growth there. 

With so much Gratitude,

The One Light Family and GWU Womens Collective in Bidi Bidi

Dec 2, 2019

Rose's Community of Women Move Us ...

As the construction of the vocational training center in Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement is nearly complete, we are reflecting on how this building will be a place not only for teaching, learning, and the embroidery and sewing that will provide income opportunity for the women and students of God with Us Women's Center, but for the preservation of a cultural tradition. Passed down from generation to generation from South Sudanese mothers, grandmothers, and aunties, the embroidered bedsheets known as milayas become the heart of home.

One Light Global Administrative Coordinator Kristin Kohler was recently inspired to write this poem, The Milaya Women, after a week of learning about Permaculture design through nature connection at the Wilderness Awareness School in Duvall, Washington. She said, "We learned how Permaculture is deeply intertwined with remembrance, ancestry, grief, and culture, and it made me immediately think of Rose and the Women of GWU in Bidi Bidi, and the importance of their beautiful milayas."  

The Milaya Women

Forced to leave their rooted place

But the guns cannot kill the threads of life still weaving their ancestral story

The DNA of place is in the water drank and stitch by stitch the story remains

The stitches grow in color and form and beauty by a hand that is of many hands before hers

This is home through flight from bullet and blood 

The red now becoming a form on fabric, sewn as offering, remembering, telling

New roots are forming

Patterns of sun and sky and textile are tracked by infant eyes on mother’s backs

Great-grandmother is here and has been always

Wrapped and sewn and remembered through ditches dug and weeping, laughter, song

She is theirs, and theirs to share and theirs to hold sacred 

*****

Milayas are used in weddings and funerals and are hung at church on Sundays. They push the story of home and family forward to future generations. Please support these women and help them to continue to preserve this cultural tradition by donating below!

As always,
with Gratitude and Light,

The One Light Family

*****

Image Credits: Sarah Hopkins, Bida Isaac, James Lado

Sep 3, 2019

Exciting, heartfelt, & emotional update from the field!

Angela meeting Rose. Photo by Nora Lorek
Angela meeting Rose. Photo by Nora Lorek
"Hello from Uganda! I traveled to Bidi Bidi refugee camp in August with Eldoma, our Uganda Field Coordinator. The first day we arrived, we had a meeting with the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) to deliver the signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) from the OPM office in Kampala. We also discussed our plans for our activities in Bidi Bidi, and we moved closer to getting approval for the build site for the vocational and educational training centers. 

Isaac, our engineer, travelled to the build site with OPM district officials (the physical planner, the environment officer, and the forest officer). Rose and representatives of the women’s collective were also present. The district officials assessed the land and agreed to move forward with meeting with the committee members for final approval. After the meeting they will sign off and clear us to begin the construction process. Although we haven’t been cleared to build yet, this is a big step and we really are almost there!

Eldoma and I also saw the land and met the landlord from the host community that offered it, as it is just a short walk from Rose’s plot. I’m working on a plan to be on the ground for the start of construction and spend more time with Rose and her collective.

It was a beautiful moment seeing Rose for the first time. She has such a strong presence and her smile is even more striking in person. She leads with such confidence and you can see how much she cares about her community. She also has a wonderful sense of humor and playfulness that adds to the light that she shines.

Being in Bidi Bidi with Rose and her community was so meaningful. I really enjoyed seeing them in community, watching them create their milayas, and witnessing Rose’s leadership. As much joy as there was watching the women laughing, smiling and focusing so intently on the discussion they were having, at times I would look out from the space where we were seated, see the settlement, and be reminded that they and nearly 230,000 people live in Bidi Bidi because of horrific violence that is happening just across the border. 

The resilience that these women have is remarkable, and I know there are many realities that they face that I can’t even imagine or comprehend. When we arrived, Rose let us know that a woman had tried to commit suicide. As the community leader for her village, she helped coordinate care for the woman and her children. Rose let us know that the woman was going to be taken to a medical facility and her children were going to stay with Rose. This was also an example of how the women, especially, have so many responsibilities for taking care of their families and communities. Rose mentioned a few times how impactful the support of One Light Global has been in helping them to create opportunities for themselves and improve their lives and their communities.

With Light,

Angela"

 

Viewing building plans. Photo by Eldoma Dawood
Viewing building plans. Photo by Eldoma Dawood
Meeting of the collective. Photo by Angela Lucia
Meeting of the collective. Photo by Angela Lucia

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