Guest Post // Melissa from Tukula

When I was nineteen I stepped onto Ugandan soil for the first time. Even though I had been traveling overseas since I was 15 I never experienced a place quite like East Africa. It was the most vivid place I had ever been, with bright reds roads and deep green earth intertwining. I spent my days holding babies, singing songs, and folding never ending piles of laundry.  After five months I said goodbye and boarded a plane not knowing when I would be back.

After feeling an indescribable ache I came back and now at the age of twenty-four, Uganda has been my home for over 3 years. During my first year back, I learned about this huge need for economic empowerment for youth in Uganda. Even though many of these youth are university or trade-school educated, there is simply not enough infrastructure to accommodate them into the job market. Young women in particular are most vulnerable to lack of jobs – what’s waiting for them is usually premature marriage, bearing many children whom they can’t support, and little hope of saving for the future of their family. I knew I had a rare opportunity to bring about change in this area, so in 2010 my husband and I created Tukula. Tukula works alongside five Ugandan women to create beautiful product lines to sell in international markets, allowing for these women to gain consistent and fair wages. The income the women receive help them to economically empower others and save for their families and future goals.

One of those ladies, Sally, came to us defeated and in search of school fees, a few months later Sally excitedly showed me her Certificate she received in tailoring. She is now the head tailor of our Jinja Town Shop and is blowing us away with her quality and efficiency. She left the familiarity of home and family in war-torn northern Uganda in search of a job and she has not only met that goal but now has the opportunity to dream big not just for herself but for those she left behind.

Every woman we work with has a different story and comes from a different tribes and backgrounds but they all have the same goal of providing for themselves and their families. I can't imagine life without them or without Uganda. This place of extreme highs and extreme lows has pushed me to live with reckless abandon. To risk everything for those you love even strangers who have become family.

The things I have seen in this place make think of Jesus often. Of the miracles He did and the words He spoke. I wonder if I really believe the things He said and if my life reflects that belief... can I walk on water like Peter or pack up my life again and leave the familiarity of this home for something unknown?

Is the risk worth it? I think Sally would say yes...would you? 


Jennifer Rod said...

Yes it is! This is beautiful work. These women reflect such hope and inspiration in their smiles. They are so beautiful!

Amber Noella said...

These women are so beautiful!

Jennifer Alvarado said...

This really touched my heart. I will definitely support and pray for Tukula.