On July 1st, Jinja will gain the status of “city.” With that status comes development and growth. Within the town there are a couple of slum areas where rent is extremely cheap. One of those areas is right down the road from HEAL Ministries, and a lot of families in our programs live there. We even have 4 staff members who have lived there for years. The government informed them recently that they must move out before July 1st because the area known as Works is going to be torn down and developed. This news has been devastating for the families who have called it home for so long. Finding new places to live right now has been really hard since most everyone has stayed put due to COVID-19. The few places that are available have increased in price. It’s a really hard situation for those being forced out of Works. Most of them will have to pay double the cost of rent at their new places.
As a social worker and leader with HEAL, I have spent a lot of time this past week sitting down with our 4 staff members from Works and helping them think through finances and budgets for their new expenses. I made sure they had people helping them look for available rooms. There were some tears shed and fears spoken about how they will provide for their families during this pandemic. They are all still getting their salaries from HEAL, so I know they will be ok. It has been a heavy week. A heavy month. People all around the world are hurting and in need. There is so much injustice.
While the James Place is still closed due to Uganda’s restrictions during the pandemic, I’m thankful that I can still work and help our staff in times of crisis. I’m thankful that we have the funds to continue to pay all 73 staff members during this time. I have been talking to several of our staff members on a regular basis and checking in on them to be sure they’re doing ok. Some staff are now pregnant, others have given birth, some have moved, etc. I can’t wait until we are all back together and see the growth that has happened in each other while we’ve been closed.
A highlight from this month has been spending Sundays out in the village with John’s family. I miss my own family so much, and having the chance to see John’s regularly and build deeper relationships with them has helped me a lot. John’s family is the sweetest, and I really appreciate how they have welcomed me into their family with open arms. Life in the village is slow. I used to not enjoy spending days in the village, but it has now become one of my favorite parts of life here. The Ugandan culture has taught me that relationships and community are more important than being productive. Living in community is better than focusing all on myself and my own ambitions. The United States is such an individualist culture, and I have come to learn and see the ways that can be harmful. I am thankful that I have the opportunity to live and work in another culture because it has opened my eyes to other ways of life.