I’m Annie and I feel very blessed to work as the Buying Manager for the Cotton On Foundation in Geelong, Australia.
I’m busting to share an exciting project I’m currently working on with you all, but it must remain top secret until later in the year! However, it was the driving force behind my trip to Southern Uganda recently and having the amazing opportunity to work with the Mannya Women’s Group.
Having spent my entire adult life in a profession that requires me to jump on a plane every couple of months to work in multiple continents each trip, I consider myself pretty 'well travelled'. From the biggest and fastest cities in the developed world to the backstreets of China, I have been fortunate enough to see the ways that so many others live. Throughout all the travel and places I've visited, I have always held a special place in my heart for the African continent. So it was to Uganda that I went with high expectations.
Uganda did not disappoint! I was privileged enough to work alongside many inspiring women during my stay in Mannya Village, Southern Uganda and it was a really enlightening experience. Every single woman in the women’s group had her own story, some are widows, some are HIV positive and some are in abusive relationships, however the support of the group bonds them all together and provides them each with phenomenal strength. When we asked each woman about her hopes and dreams for the future, responses varied from 'being able to provide more food for my family', to ‘have a better shelter for my family' and 'to start a piggery project'. The one answer that was consistent in every single reply was 'to educate my children/grandchildren'. Food, shelter and education - how many people would list these as hopes and dreams in Australia? For most of us, they are a given. The responses that night reminded me of how many things we take for granted in Australia. The sense of community and giving back amongst these women was so strong, I was humbled by the fact that people who have so little were some of the most generous I have come across in my life.
After spending a few busy days working on our secret project, I was extremely excited to spend some time with my sponsor child, Jannifer. Jannifer is 14 year old and attends St Bernard’s Secondary School. Although very shy, Jannifer and I bonded as we chatted about our families, interests, study and friends. I had the opportunity to meet Jannifer’s family who lived nearby and welcomed me warmly into their home.
Travelling to Uganda made me stop and reflect on my priorities and values. The Mannya women's group remind me that women who are considered by our culture to have so little, are so rich in generosity, warmth, love, spirit and resilience. I am so grateful to have shared this experience with such wonderful women and look forward to sharing some of their work with you later in the year.
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