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UGA03a - Hope Restoration Centre : Partnership Reports

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Report Date: August 22, 2023

Update from BHW Uganda Partnership Facilitator

This is an update on the position regarding the following three partnerships. I had a long discussion with Anna Ocen on 14th August and these are the things that she relayed to me.


Hope Restoration Centre (UGA03a)

There are now a very limited number of young people living at Hope Restoration Centre. Elvis has now gone to Makarere University in Kampala to train as a teacher. Jonathan (Yeko) is also in Kampala studying law. Jen is repeating Senior 4 in Lira, and Tom is still in Lira doing Senior 5 at secondary school. Maurice is living with Simon and Anna in Mbale and is studying agriculture. He was inspired by Emmanuel Ocen (presently working in Dubai) who set a wonderful example in agriculture and is passionate about it. Emmanuel spoke to me last year from Dubai and is hopeful that he will be able to save enough money to return to Uganda after two years and buy some land. I really hope that he succeeds. 


Grinding Mill, Lira 

Anna reported that the mill in Lira is now up and running. They are relying on people bringing maize to them for grinding and do have a little stock of their own, but it is clearly not very much. They stay open every day although the mill sometimes only grinds around 10 kg a day with the income only being 10,000 to 20,000 UGX (US$3-6) per day. The position is improving, and the business is growing. They did have to invest further funds to buy a hulling machine as apparently the mill we supplied was inferior for the quality of maize output required for consumption. That issue has now been rectified.

I cannot at this stage give an answer as to when the mill is likely to make a profit. However, I do remain confident that they will be able to make it work as I understand that Anna and Simon are also growing maize again this season. I will report on this further soon.


Jehovah Jireh Widows Loan Programme, Mbale (UGA05)

This group is continuing on, but Anna has not taken on any further beneficiaries since the end of the pandemic. She has approximately 89 beneficiaries in the Mbale programme, and more are interested in joining. Many of the loan beneficiaries are not presently in a good position to make payments. The group remains cohesive and there is still a large amount of care shown between the members.

We are now in the year after the end of the pandemic. Anna reports that there were nine deaths in the programme over the duration of the pandemic, and Anna’s own health has been terrible. We have assisted at various times with providing medication for Anna but because I am not going to Uganda this year, there is a need to support her with funds to buy medication for say the next 10 months as she advised that she has run out. I am looking at visiting Uganda either early next year, possibly in March, or in the middle of the year, June or July.

The loan beneficiaries are receiving very little money from their businesses and are finding an enormous number of challenges with keeping school fees paid, feeding their families, and the costs of just managing to do the business. Anna loses a lot of sleep and finds all of this extremely stressful. She does believe some of these issues have contributed to her bad health over the last few years.

Following my visit last year, the BHW Executive approved providing a US$3,000 boost to this programme for the next two years to assist the beneficiaries to re-establish their businesses on a sound footing and rebuild. The economic situation in Uganda does not seem to be very good at present, and this is the best that I can suggest.

I have previously reported on some of the positive things that we saw last year, such as Elisha from Kuzukira Snacks, and it was good to hear that he is continuing with his business. Because there has been a significant economic downturn, even in Mbale, his business has shrunk but is still continuing well. This would seem to be a similar picture for the other loan beneficiaries. One of the comments that Anna made is that recently Mbale has been ‘promoted’ from being a town to a city, but this has meant that rents and other costs of doing business have gone up dramatically.


Gen Obango Loan Programme, Lira (UGA06)

This programme is continuing to work reasonably well and has most of the same challenges as the Mbale programme except that it has between 10 and 20 more people in it than the Mbale one.  Penninah continues to manage and administer the programme. I did discuss whether the Kirombe Pentecostal Church is still involved.  It is, and there is a new pastor, who Anna reports is trying to ensure that the group there continues. According to Anna there continue to be some problems in that part of the programme. You will recall from previous reports that one of the members in the programme, Grace Nam, had been very disruptive, to the point of possibly committing a serious crime. Apparently, the issues are not fully resolved although it is hard to get clarity from Anna. I did discuss whether Anna should simply cut this group adrift. She did understand what I was saying, but I doubt whether she will take up that advice. Anna seems to be very loyal to those within her care and unwilling to look at other possible ways of dealing with problems. I also understand that there have been some threats made which have unsettled her. I plan to follow this up with her in the next few weeks and to continue this discussion with her then. For now, however no decisions need to be made about funding or anything else. 


Ideas for the Future

Finally, we did also discuss that some years ago she had planned for a new group in Soroti, which is halfway between Lira and Mbale. This matter has not proceeded, although she tells me that the women are still very keen. It is possible that this will develop later on and there is another possible table banking programme that she may bring to our attention again shortly. We have previously reported on this in Ngora and it is likely to start again soon, but may not need our involvement.


Prayer and Praise Points

Anna asked for prayer in relation to hers and Simon’s housing and accommodation. As previously reported, they have had to move house, having been evicted by the landlord in November last year. They are living in new accommodation but have issues to sort out in relation to outstanding payments for the old house and also payment of rental on the new house. This is obviously causing some considerable anxiety to her. She also has Maurice from Hope Restoration Centre living with them while he is studying agriculture in Mbale.