Some of you remember Loko village. After that rebuild, we tried to start a work program there to help people that didn’t have jobs or skills. Nobody showed up to the free training, and that’s when I pulled away. Pastor Jesse and I couldn’t really see pushing hard into an area where there was no effort on the part of the residents.
Since some of the residents were renting their rooms to others, we gave the tenants six months of free rent, then had the landlords agree to let the tenants stay at the previous rate for another six months. We were told that the “squatter settlement” that is Loko would be bulldozed after a year. I even encouraged to landlords to find new work because their places were going to disappear. I even invited them to the leather training.
Well yesterday morning some of the landlords showed up at our gate. It turns out (surprise, surprise) that the chairmen, and LC’s are corrupt (go figure) and they are playing games by taking money from the tenants (less then rent payment) to keep the landlords from kicking them out. The landlords want me to do something about it. They’re coming to me because normally they bother Jesse but he’s out of the country. I feel bad for everyone in that village, but I’m not sure how to help people that don’t want to help themselves. It’s not that they can’t help themselves (they could have come to the free training) but they didn’t help themselves (they chose not to come).
Some folks warned me against a “handout” when we rebuilt that village, saying that in some cases, like those that abuse welfare in the US, people ride the wave of social support for whatever reason and after a while it just because How Things Are.
So I have some paperwork I can dig up that shows the allocations of the properties that I can give them and I’ll offer to sit in a meeting with whatever non-corrput official can spare a few moments but really, I’m nobody. I was part of a team that built a couple dozen rooms on property that wasn’t zoned for construction that’s owned by a company that’s wanted it bulldozed for years, and who has sounded the final gong at least twice in the past year. I can’t even re-offer the leather training because we’re already at 15 people and we can barely afford to pay them because frankly we’re not selling much. Not sure at all what to do to help Loko.
Speaking of leather, I realized today that I have to do something to keep this program alive, so I emailed the owner of Uganda’s most popular (and highest-end) gift shop, Banana Boat. They sell very high-end and pricey handmade African gifts that are considered the cream of the handmade crop. I think our stuff is that good, but only time will tell if they accept it. It would be great if they did. We need a bump for that program. I spent an hour or so in the workshop today (which is rare when I have so much going on) and did a few maintenance things: helped Jen finish a project and cut some leather straps so the girls could finish journals. I miss being in the workshop, and I might have to spend some more time in there creating some new stuff. I guess that’s what I’m best at: coming up with new stuff. I miss the workshop. There’s something soothing about being in there and it’s so right brain. (I had to Google which side of the brain that was. I’m not sure what that means.)
I sent a few very long emotional emails today: one to our board (which I now regret) and one to our old computer program in Kenya. As for the latter, it turned out that they invited me to a graduation of their Computer Training Program. You like how I did that in all caps, like all official-like? Well not only was I invited, I was asked to help pay for it. Croykies. I thought the program was dead because since we don’t live in Kenya I relied on photos and emails to let us know how things were going. I would visit and ask for updates and never received them so I assumed the program was dead, only to find out there are graduates! My email to the director in Webuye was pointed (because HELLO? We donated gear and only asked for some photos!) and as I wrote it I had to push down my frustration because we were sitting on so much gear at one point and all I wanted was to find something worthwhile to do with it. I’ll see what the response is and I’m trying to not have a bad attitude but it does burn me when stuff like this happens. We even donated a video camera so they could send footage. I’ll tell you one thing.. if we send them more gear, they’ll keepus posted. My email made sure of that. :-)
On another subject, the MiGs are flying over again today. That’s five passes so far.
And last but not least, I spent the day working on the Volunteer Network.
Unfortunately I was in a cruddy mood all day because the bad news is outweighing the good news on just about every front. Money has become an issue and we are really hoping some money comes in for the kids’ school, otherwise things will get.. messy.