Big announcement for the Long family! We are moving back to the US for a while. While it’s typical for most ex-pats / missionaries to schedule home visits on a regular basis, we haven’t had any real time “back home” in seven years, and a “return home” is long overdue.
Honestly we are burned out, and have been for a while, but that’s not the only reason we’re coming back. We need to get Trevor settled into his first year of college, get Makenna settled into her second year and with high-school looming in two short years for Declan (and with RVA full) we need to start shopping around now. We’ve been blessed to have a great education for Declan through the years, but quality high school education is simply non-existent in our area.
We also really need to fellowship with a church in the US and spend some time as members of a church community. This is something we have desperately missed (and something we desperately needed but never had) in the years we have been here.
One of the biggest reasons we are coming back now is because our programs in Uganda (The Computer Training Center, the Keep and the Ngozi Creations leather program) are all finally ready to run on their own. This is incredibly exciting for us because it was never our intention to oversee and run these programs forever. We always dreamed of handing them over to an amazing Ugandan staff and it seems we finally have that staff and they are finally ready!
We will be looking for someone to rent our (furnished) house while we are away so that the leather program can continue without major disruption, our home staff can continue in their current positions and we can come back to Uganda relatively easily if we feel called to.
While in the US, I’m hoping to work with the many US-based volunteers that have faithfully asked, “What can I do to help?” For years my answer to that question was two-fold: send financial support or come to Uganda. This support was amazingly helpful but my goal for HFC was never for it to be all about Uganda. I’ve always wanted to work with hackers in their local areas, doing good work with tech knowledge and showing the positive side of the hacker community. Finally, I’ll be able to work directly with HFC volunteers in their own communities providing technology training and support to organizations that need it the most.
Specifically, I hope to do “tech roadshows” or “tech camps” in disaffected areas to engage kids and train teachers in maker skills (3D printing, robotics, CNC, hardware hacking, Pi, Arduino, etc). I’ve seen how transformative tech and maker training can be but I’ve also seen how wide the gap is for many schools and individuals that don’t have the budget to get into high-end tech skills. We’ll be looking for creative ways to excite teachers and students and find ways to provide tech gear and curriculum so that the fun and learning can continue after we’ve gone. I also plan on getting to as many smaller conferences as I can so I can meet, hang out with and hear from the hacker community that makes this all possible. I’m also not entirely opposed to setting up a US-based HFC maker space so that we have a space where folks can get access to the skills and gear to pursue their high-tech dreams.
My goal is to one day be able to work full-time for HFC but right now we frankly don’t have the budget. So I’m likely going to have to find a part or even full time job to make ends meet, and right now the details are pretty sketchy. I’ve been “out of work” for seven years, and getting back into the workplace is a pretty scary proposition. We also have to figure out healthcare, schooling and so many things that are frankly terrifying, but I’m still convinced that we need this time in the US and I’m willing to do whatever I can to continue the work of HFC, even if that means becoming a full-time volunteer once again.
So that’s our big news. We leave in less than two weeks and will be based in Northwest Arkansas but I hope to be traveling around so I can meet the thousands of you that have faithfully supported our work through the years.
Thank you so much for all the kindness, love, prayers and support. We couldn’t have done it without you!