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