Alice and the Bitengye Designers have been on my mind for a long time, and thankfully, today, Trudy Thorne and I will be starting our journey back to Uganda to see them again. (Sadly, Joan, who has been there for every previous visit is not able to travel with us this time. I will miss her, and am sure the Bitengye Designers will too.) You may remember that I was meant to go last October, but ended up in hospital instead, so it is a gift to be able to go now.
We will all be meeting at Canada House once more, where we'll review some of the products they have been making, and present possible ways for them to go forward on their own. Because this will be the last visit - bittersweet, indeed - for a variety of reasons. I have very mixed feelings about this, but have known all along that the time would come for the Bitengye women to "fly on their own", and this seems to be the right time.
We have a couple of Ugandan contacts to make on their behalf, and another Canadian who is working in Uganda and interested in purchasing some of their goods, so one of our goals is to further these relationships while we're there. I had hoped that we might link them with the Stephen Lewis Foundation, but when I looked into it, they are supporting larger, umbrella organizations, not small groups like ours.
Thank you once again to all of you have supported this group of women over the years. It is thanks to you that we're able to hold this workshop, and set them up with the equipment and supplies they'll need to carry on. Also thanks to you that Alice's Sewing School is operational, and that Recheal's Clinic for her village of Kikagate is now built. Visits to both of these will be highlights of our trip. I'll be posting photos and news here during our time in Uganda when I'm able to, and hope you'll be able to enjoy these, and so feel a part of the journey. Hugs to all of you.