We are at the airport waiting to begin our trek home. This story is from mid-trip, about 5 weeks ago.

From Gail – We were able to return to Mbale, the third largest city in Uganda, for three days this trip and I am very excited to tell you the things I found there.

My friend Racheal has introduced me to several groups of women in the villages around Mbale, and I’m very grateful. On Sunday we drove to Masanda where Bob preached. We had a wonderful lunch the women had cooked. We had driven in straight from Tororo and did not yet have a place to stay. Bob and Pastor David went into Mbale town to find a reasonable guest house. They found the perfect one.

I stayed at the church building to lead a women’s meeting. Twenty-five people were there, 23 women and 2 men – these are the members of the local tailoring class that is taught in this village by Racheal, who gives this training for free to these very, very poor people as a ministry. First they wanted to demonstrate for me the skills they have learned. They spread out all over the one-room building to practice their measuring, tracing patterns, and cutting and sewing a girl’s dress or some pants or a shirt. All of this is done in heavy paper from bags purchased from the local cement factory because they can’t afford fabric to practice with. They were collaborating and advising each other, and they really wanted me to see all that they were learning. What fun to see the excitement in their eyes as they went to the sewing machines and began the sew these paper creations.

This group of 25 has just 2 machines to practice on and no fabric available. They each patiently wait their turn. While I was there watching, one of the machines had a problem with the bobbin and the machine became unusable until it could be repaired. It happened just like that…. This brought home to me the fragility of this process. Without the funds to repair the machine, often less than $10.00, 50% of their training equipment is sidelined until further notice.

It was a very enjoyable two hours, and I closed with a Bible study and prayer.

They are learning very well, but they could be doing better if they had more equipment. I am including a list of the things they need. They will persevere without these things, but oh what a difference a little support would mean! They need:

Scissors, sewing machine needles, tailoring chalk and pencils, erasers, a tool box, buttons, pins, rulers, tape measures, hooks and eyes, hand needles, oil for machines, elastic for waist bands, fabric for practicing and for making actual outfits to sell, more sewing machines, and funds to repair breakdowns.

There are two other tailoring groups in the Mbale area that have risen up through this ministry, and more are planned. These groups are taught by volunteer teachers with caring hearts, and the classes last nine months, so it is a major commitment for both the students and the teachers. The students are very serious in their desire to lift themselves by becoming self-sufficient.