Wednesday, November 14, 2012

An African Adventure Part 1

He's Back!!!!
Can I be more excited that Nate is home?
He is right where he belongs. 
On Monday his flight from Rome was delayed so he missed his connecting flight home to us.  So instead of coming home at noon he was home at 9 pm.  Silly me, I told the kids daddy would be there with me to pick them up from school.   Lesson 1 --Don't ever tell your children that unless you are absolutely positively sure he is going to be there.  When they
got to the van after school their smiles dropped and then the question, where is daddy? was said over and over.  Rosie was openly upset. 
We cooped as best as we could.  Fortunately I found a babysitter last minute for the girls so bubba could go to his den meeting and while I was gone the girls had made welcome home signs for daddy.
Past bedtime, we hopped in the van all clad in our pajamas and headed to the airport to get daddy and bring him home.  It was a hero's welcome. 
Lil Miss ran to him as soon as she saw him. The kids were so excited.
There was an aroma around him after traveling for 32 hours, but we didn't mind.   (okay maybe only mommy noticed the odor :-)
We were just glad to have him home with us. 
When we got home daddy gave all the kids their souvenirs from Africa, mommy got one too!
The girls got a beautiful necklace from one of the Opportunity clients and Lil Miss and Bubba got stuffed animals.   Mommy got 3 different kinds of fabric. 
Does Nate know me or what?
I am so excited to create something with the vibrant colored fabric he picked out just for me!
 
After the kids went to bed and Nate had taken a shower, he showed me all the pictures from his trip. 
I know he was really tired but we stayed up for 2 hours going over the trip and answering the zillion questions I had.  Seeing the pictures from the trip made me less jealous because
it was like he was bringing a part of it home to me.
So to share here is a glimpse of the trip they took.....
They flew into Kampala, Uganda where there is a population of about 2.5 million. 
So it's not a little African village. 
The whole function of an insight trip with Opportunity International is to get a
look at different loan clients/trust groups and how they grow and use the loans they receive. 
While they were in Uganda the group visited educational loan clients, agricultural clients, small business clients, and got a view of the banking system. 
 {a visit to one of the trust group weekly meetings}
Opportunity was one of the first non profit organizations to recognize the benefits of providing microloans as capital to those working their way out of poverty.  When clients build businesses with Opportunity loans, they often set into motion monumental changes.  Family income rises.  Children are fed and go to school.  Homes are improved.  Women gain status.  For clients around the globe, these transformations take place every day. 
 
A trust group is a collection of 8 to 30 entrepreneurs who pledge to guarantee easy other's loans.  This holds everyone in this group accountable for one another's loans.  Because the group guarantee replaces the need for collateral, credit becomes available to those previously locked out from formal financial services.  Each week they gather to repay their loans and develop business skills. 
 
In 2011, Uganda had 19,504 customers with loans, 51% of them being women. 
Nate said it was amazing to see such a presence of Opportunity International in Uganda. 
You could go down the street and see Opportunity banks and so many people (even at the hotel) knew about Opportunity and some were education clients. 
 
Education in Africa is seen as the key out of poverty. 
Nate heard so many stories of clients getting educational loans for their children to further their education.  One women was debating whether to get her medicine or use the money to send her daughter to the University.  They want to be well educated.
 Nate's group visited many Opportunity clients at their place of business. 
This women had a small store where she sold everything to food to kitchen supplies. 
Her dream is to open a supermarket. 
They visited one woman who raises pigs.   
 This woman has a loan from Opportunity for her business of making school uniforms.


I believe they went to two schools that received educational loans. 
The loan allowed the school to go from renting the building they were previously using to owning the land and expanding to 600 students. 
The little kids at this school were excited to say "ki kati"  (hello in lugandan) to the visitors.
 
The kids were excited to see the pictures Scott took with his camera.
They aren't used to seeing their own face staring back at them from the screen. 
My kids are immune from this with the barrage of pictures I take everyday.
 
 {There is my hubby!}

{a sign for an Opportunity Bank}
While they were talking with some sugar cane farmers the bus got stuck in the mud.  They actually dug the tires out of the mud with their hands and machetes.   
{sugar cane}

{My brother-in-law Scott, my brother Dennis, and my hubby}
 

Nate took a lot of pictures of the women in brightly colored dresses. 
"I thought you might like to see how they make their dresses."  Is what Nate said to me. 
Isn't he the sweetest!
This is a trust group of coffee farmers. 

{a coffee plant}
{this is the cocoa fruit}
After Nate took the picture of the woman in the orange dress he showed her the picture and he said her face lit up so big.  She had never seen her own picture before.

{Nate was fascinated by these houses with the thatch roofs} 
{and the untraditional baby bike carrier}
The group was told they were taking a boat to their hotel that night, but were not expecting a canoe. 
They all put on their life jackets and canoed across the Nile to reach their accommodations for the night.  Their luggage was taken across earlier in the day. 
What an experience.  Canoeing across the Nile River!!!
Nate told me they gave him a really small life jacket.
He made it fit though..... barely.
{crossing the Nile}

 {almost there, they can see the "hotel"}

{A view from Scott and Nate's room}

Seriously the view looks AMAZING!!
I will have to wait to hear from Nate if I correctly portrayed the trip thus far.
It looks awesome and I can't wait to show you the rest, especially the gorillas!!
more to come.
 Well now you will have to wait to hear more.
I will leave you with this picture of Scott looking out at the Nile. 
Isn't it so peaceful?  Nice looking robe Scott!  :-)

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