Grace...

Bakers Posted by Paul and Tania Baker on Wed, 18 May 2011 | 1 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to del.icio.us Post this to Facebook

I’m not sure how much has hit the news in the UK and Ireland, but the last few months have been very eventful in Uganda.

After elections in February fuel prices began to rise, followed quickly by food prices. In fact at the time of writing, inflation stands at 17%.

On a national scale this has caused great civil unrest. The opposition party launched a “walk to work” campaign every Monday and Thursday in Kampala, protesting against the rise in the cost of fuel. Conveniently (or quite the opposite) the government declared all form of protests illegal and so arrested everyone who was walking to work. This has resulted in violent outbursts in the capital.

On a personal scale the riots have only affected our travel. A team visiting Kiwoko from London a few weeks ago had to change their flights; they were unable to get to the airport as the police had blocked all the roads going in or out of Kampala.

But for the poorer Ugandans around us, who have no interest in protesting, and already walk to work, the rising cost of food brings serious problems.

A few weeks ago the ladies at the craft project were complaining about how much things were now costing to buy. They joked that soon they would have to start eating rats. The following week the joking had stopped. One of the ladies, whose picture was featured on our last blog, Grace, had been admitted to the hospital the night before because she had collapsed. It turned out the day before she had left early, without breakfast, to work at our HIV clinic. The clinic employs local people on a ‘on the day’ basis to help out at the clinic. At the end of the day they get paid, which they often use to buy food on their way home. The clinic usually finishes around 3pm but this day was busy and ran on until 6pm. Grace arrived home that evening at nearly 7, having worked on her feet all day and not having eaten since the day before. On taking her ARV drugs for her HIV with no food in her stomach, she promptly collapsed.

She had chosen to work at the clinic that day to get the extra money she desperately needed to cover the rising cost in food. But the result was that she was in hospital the day of the craft project and so could not earn the one wage she can usually totally depend on.

This event really shook me. My natural reaction is to want to go out and buy huge hampers of food for all the ladies in our craft project. But the importance of this project is that it is not charity. These women work for the money we pay them and that gives them a dignity and encourages the local economy.

Of course there are small changes we can make. In keeping with inflation we have raised the prices that we sell their crafts on to visitors, thus allowing us to pay the women more for what they make. And bringing homemade chocolate cake to the project isn’t charity – it’s just good fun and a much needed sugar burst!

Every meal time we give thanks for the food God has provided us with. But did we ever doubt it will actually be there? Do we ever imagine a day when we can not afford to eat that day? Maybe next time you say “Grace” you will think of Grace and be truly thankful for the food we so easily afford.

Comments

Alan Peek said Sat, 25 Jun 2011 08:41PM
Hi Paul & Tania Just wanted you to know that after our morning service in Castlederg tomorrow (26th June) we are holding a 'Sundae Sunday' to raise you some extra funds. We did this once before last year for Bibles in China. The idea is we sell some ice-cream sundaes and all the profit goes to you, which (as we managed to get Asda and Spar to donate the ingredients) should be all of it! Hoping for over £100. We will be thinking of your friend Grace as we say grace for being able to eat ice-cream sundaes - maybe you could use the money for something food related? Take care and God bless Alan

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