October 6, 2014
On one of our first days in Uganda we were warmly welcomed out at the relatively new Women’s Refuge Center at Abaana’s Hope. At the time there were two women living on within the compound.
With chickens roaming and little girls giggling, we threw off our shoes and knelt on a straw mat where Grace, a single mother of 5 who is in the program, taught us her trade of pottery making.
For several hours we kneaded that soft clay, smoothing out every crack and imperfection.
The entire process was intriguing, though I never imagined sculpting to be such a difficult art, or that so much heart and care is put into each piece! Grace just smiled. Her fingers shaped the dirt so fast and perfectly. It seemed as though she was spinning gold. None could overlook the joy she had as she went about her work.
While we tried our hardest to imitate, Grace shared her story and Jennifer so sweetly translated from Acholi to English. I wish I was gifted with words, but I’m not, so I won’t even try retelling this brave woman’s account for fear of getting details wrong or giving an unrealistic picture. But imagine this if you can…enduring years of war and imprisonment since childhood, abuse, injury and unthinkable treatment, abandonment and survival. Those of us living in the states will probably never be able to comprehend the great struggle and pain. But such is the history of this courageous young lady. She is a picture of strength and endurance. Never have I met anyone so strong. We were so encouraged hearing the continuing story of Grace’s hope found in Jesus and the healing He has brought to her family in recent years, and her present opportunity to serve at Abaana’s Hope.
Around noon Carolyn prepared us a delicious meal of boo (pronounced baa, like a sheep sound 🙂 ) served with the traditional staple, pocho.
Then back to our pottery we went. Grace finished the shaping then we all marked our initials on our masterpieces.
After the final steps of sculpting (above), we left our pots with Grace who later sun-dried, baked (see last 2 pictures) and cleaned the pottery before decorating them with beautiful red and blue paints. After having sold these pots to us and many others since, Grace is now financially ready to purchase land of her own. What an answer to prayer!
I now have this beauty sitting on the shelf in my bedroom as a constant reminder to pray for Grace and the other refugee women.
It’s touching to see how through AH God is providing these widowed and vulnerable Acholi women the opportunity to receive daily Biblical discipleship and live in safety while learning vocational skills to provide for family needs, empowering them to become self-sustained members of the community and disciples of Christ.
Remember Grace and the Women’s Refuge Center in your prayers!