There were maybe 18 woen, but they trickled in. I think the final count was about 30. Some were older, others still quite young. A couple had toddlers and babies with them. Maybe half were wearing gomezes, the other half, long skirts. Madame Josephine, Jude and I sat on a chair and bench that were brought out from the house.
Jude went around ,collecting money. They all have weekly deposits into the group savings account. Then Josephine talked about me. There was sporadic excitement....it was weird not knowing what was said. I introduced myself and the project. I was really flying by seat of my pants. And it was like talking to a wall, because no one could understand me! Every reaction was really delayed (it had to be translated). But--there was much cheering when Josephine translated my message. So, I guess it went over alright.
Next, I went around and collected the name of each zone and made a schedule of when trainings would take place. I also took down the name and phone number of the zone leader, who would be the custodian of the drier. It was a spelling and pronunciation nightmare. I eventually did complete the task. I will have two trainings next Tuesday, 2 next Wednesday, 2 next Friday and 1 the following Monday. We will cross the “follow-up” bridge when we get there.
I also wrote down each woman’s name. Haha. My interpretations got pretty amusing by the end. One woman might be called “Spacious.” I will do my best to learn them! A lot of the women in the group are in households that don’t have a patriarch. Several are widows. One woman walked into the meeting sobbing. Jude explained that her son had died of HIV that morning. He was in Kampala, and she had just gotten the news. I can’t imagine. And I can’t fathom how she made it to the meeting.
The women asked Josephine what they could cook for me when I visited. I told her to tell them “anything.” I hope I don’t regret that but I don’t want to be picky. Whatever these women can d or give to me is already excessive.
The most touching part was when the women asked if they could name me. I am now Lauren Nandawula, which means lioness. They chose this because the group organizer is from the lion clan. So, I am his daughter. Josephine also translated for me that they chose Nandawula because I am strong (apparently they heard I work hard at St. Jude) and brave (for coming alone to Africa, leaving America and my family behind). I don’t know how to express how genuinely touched I am by this gesture of acceptance and inclusion.
Josephine drove home. She doesn’t even try to avoid the pot-holes. Uffda. We did stop for chapati though. Joy and jubilation!
I worked on my lunch and budget etc etc all afternoon and then did laundry. Woohoo. Clean underwear. Boycotting the bucket bath. Hoping for a trip to town tomorrow!