We returned home to San Antonio mid-December from Uganda where 236 women from many areas of the country were able to attend the 15th annual Threads of Blessing conference at the Women’s Vocational Training Center at Goli in Nebbi Diocese in northwest Uganda from December 2-6, 2019.
Through the generosity of many donors, each of these women was provided a scholarship that covered her bus fare to and from her home, plus 4 nights room and board at the Center with some women traveling overnight.
For many, this was their first time they would leave their villages and cross tribal boundaries creating lasting friendships as they experienced this gathering of fellowship and empowerment.
It was a celebration of joy, fellowship, and determination as the women received proceeds for the sale of their handwork. Almost $19,000 was distributed amongst 235 women. In June we had distributed a further $11,000 making a total of more than $30,000 this year. In addition, we provided $18,500 in scholarship funds. The women gave testimonies that validated the changes in their lives and those of their families … and we danced and sang together!
Each Threads of Blessing group has a leader, secretary, and treasurer – positions created by the women themselves, but over this past year, we have learned that the definition and scope of work suggested by these titles was confusing to some of them. Hence, “I am the Good Shepherd” (John 10:14-15) was the theme for this year’s conference, focusing on leadership and Jesus’ example as our ultimate leader. It was well-received.
Each day began with praise and worship followed by Bible study led by Mama Phoebe Orombi, wife of retired Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi. She was joined in teaching and challenging the women, by the Reverend Canon Hellen Oneka, beloved and internationally renowned women’s leader, and vicar of a large parish on the outskirts of the slum district of Kampala.
It rained the first two days we were together. This affects us more negatively than it does the Ugandans. Being an agrarian society, they see rain as God’s Blessing and thank us for bringing it. God continually humbles and teaches us through these women.
It is 15 years since Threads of Blessing
began with 30 women. Now the ministry has expanded to include more than 650 women throughout the country. Coupled with this expansion is the development of their own micro-enterprise businesses as they invest a portion of their earnings in their group revolving account programs. The loans are available for a 4-month period after which they must be returned with 10% interest. Defaults are rare and have always been resolved.
In grateful response to God's provision for her family through Threads of Blessing, Esther, a school teacher, has been able to build a home, provide school fees for the education of her children. Most recently she has formed a new Threads of Blessing group in her own village. She has taught them well. The piece below took her three years to complete.
It is our joy and privilege to watch God's hand empowering these beloved women and expanding their horizons.
The following are some of their testimonies:
“I pay school fees with the money I receive from the sale of my needlework. I am a widow but now have hope for the future. I have built a strong house and bought goats. Threads of Blessing has changed my life!” (Lucy)
“I thank God for Threads of Blessing. I have learned to be patient and consistent in many ways such as to start something and be able to complete it. I have learned to wait for the fruits of my work patiently, even though at times there is an urgent need. The first piece of needlework fetched me a lot of money and this encouraged me to continue. I thank God because it came at a time when I was really in great need.” (Olive)
“The money I have received from Threads of Blessing has helped so much. I am alone taking care of my family. I have started building a permanent home and it has reached the wall level. It is expensive to purchase the materials. I have been able to increase my farming by buying more seeds, pay medical bills and support my family. I give thanks for the blessings I have received.” (Daphine)
“Threads of Blessing has enabled me to study, save, and create new friends across the country. It has also enabled us to take good care of our home and children, thanksgiving, school fees, caring for orphans. I bought one goat and now I have five.” (Florence)
“I have been able to support my family. I have 5 children but 2 of them have died. I use the money for digging and planting in my garden and paying school fees. My husband is with the Lord.” (Leya)
“One of my pieces was sold. I was so grateful and shared the money with my family. May God bless Threads of Blessing abundantly.” (Asenath)
“I have been able to pay the school fees for my children. I also bought one female goat and she has increased their numbers to four.” (Suzan)
“I am a widow with 7 children but no helper. I am paralyzed from a stroke and very weak but with the help of the Lord and the love you are giving us, we are managing.” (Margret)
“Threads of Blessing has brought a lot of change in our lives; we have learned more about the scriptures and it is bringing a transformation to our lives.” (Joyce)