Jennifer called it a “spectacular opportunity” to apply her university knowledge of savings and loan groups and Linda was glad to learn about how a VSLA works so she might apply it in her own community.
Another highlight of their trip was an invitation to a village Chairman’s home to discuss a Peace and Justice program supported by World Renew and implemented by our local partner, the Pentecostal Assemblies of God Southwestern. Accompanied by Naomi, the program officer in charge of this effort, Linda and Jennifer met with the Chief and other to explore the benefit of making wills and the justice issues surrounding the practice.
Upon arrival, Jennifer found herself experiencing a funny cross-cultural moment. Jennifer, Linda, and Naomi encountered some boys who were out of school. Every time Jennifer looked at one of the little boys, he began to cry! At one point, he summoned the courage to walk up behind her and touch her very white skin and immediately began crying uncontrollably. After this humorous beginning to the day, Jennifer, Linda, and Naomi were able to engage those gathered in a discussion of justice issues in the region ranging from the writing of wills and beyond.
Jennifer was moved by her conversations with a lawyer there about the justice system in Uganda, specifically that prisons there have such insufficient government funding that the burden of the cost of imprisonment is often on the accusers! In cases where the accuser has no money, the wrongdoer is likely to go scot-free. With such a broken system, many victims, especially those of domestic violence, continue to live in vulnerable situations without protection from the government or even their communities, which are mostly male-dominated.
For Linda, the issue of gender imbalance and justice suffused the conversation. Because girls are often valued for the work they can do in a family, they are discouraged from attending school. At the extreme, woman are even viewed as property, rather than human beings. So domestic violence, divorce, and the spread of HIV are rampant.
With regards to gender justice in the writing and execution of a will, regional culture here dictates that a girl child not be included in a father’s will and many times a mother’s will is simply ignored. Linda believes that Christian values can help transform this aspect of a community and has faith that the program’s organizing and supporting partners, PAG and World Renew, will play a part in this transformation.
Linda and Jennifer were both grateful for the opportunity to learn more about PAG Southwestern’s Peace and Justice program and better appreciate its role in sensitizing communities about issues of gender justice, especially as it pertains to the writing of wills.