By Mia Hodges
It is hard to believe that just about a month ago I was finishing up my 5 weeks in Gulu. In some respects, it feels like ages ago that Allison, Saelar, and I visited the endearing community of Okumu and were given a chicken as a gift to thank us for what HCU’s micro-finance program has done in their lives. At home in Atlanta, it feels like even longer ago that we sat bemused and surprised as we then ate that chicken the next night for dinner. Yet, a few nights ago, when showing pictures to my family and describing the experiences I had in Gulu, it felt like just yesterday that the three of us were meeting with the children and women that are a part of the HCU community.
Although I loved working with HCU’s students on the weekends, I found that interacting with the women that HCU’s micro-finance program, Uplift, is currently supporting was the most rewarding part of my experience. While Allison, Saelar and I were in Gulu, we met with women in all three of the HCU-supported communities, and were welcomed into their homes with broad smiles and gracious hospitality.
As I told my family about the women who care for at times as many as eleven children through selling produce or working in quarries, they marveled at the diligent work ethic and passion these women have for supporting their families. As I showed them the pictures of these women in their huts, I remembered how they never failed to offer me a chair and express exuberant generosity to ensure that I felt welcome. After leaving, it was extremely rewarding to know that our time in Gulu helped contribute to the expansion of the Uplift program, thereby continuing to support the hardworking women of these various communities.
Upon reflection, I look back on my time in Gulu as an incredible learning and perspective-widening experience. It is so great to see the continued developments that the current interns are making now, between the opening of House of Hope and the new computer classes that are being conducted there. I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with the amazing HCU executive team and I have no doubt that Kevin, Ella, and Jamie will continue to lead HCU to an incredible future. I look forward to helping HCU expand, both in the USA and in Gulu!