Dhugira Sunday, amongst other employment, is the Coordinator for Threads of Blessing in Uganda. As you can read in a previous blog (A Covid-19 Story), she has been in the USA since she was unable to return home on March 31, 2020. Recently, she was asked by a Mothers' Union group in the United Kingdom, to tell of her life and present circumstances. We think it worth including.
Dear Lowrie, Praise the Lord!
I'm humbled by this request, and happy to know that MU in Llandaff is concerned about me and praying for me.
I grew up as a product of Mothers' Union. My mother, Mrs. Anna Uromcamu, was the first Mothers' Union worker of Nebbi Diocese. I was a little girl, and I admired her commitment to her work. She would be gone for days for programs from one parish to the other, leaving us to take care of our last born, who was a toddler. My father, the late Canon Justus Uromcamu, was the Diocesan secretary and was equally busy. They raised the 6 of us (4 boys and two girls) with the Christian values that Mothers' Union objective upholds. I did not know that one day I would follow in my mother's footsteps.
How and why did you join? When?
I was employed to work at the Diocese in 2010 as the Administrator/Principal of the Women's Vocational Training Centre. This institution was built by Nebbi Diocese with funding from the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas in the USA. The Centre consists of a conference hall, dormitories, guesthouse, and dining hall to accommodate 250. The vision has always been to help women and young girls, who drop out of school, learn skills because of the high Illiteracy levels. We offer training in tailoring, catering, and hairdressing. In 2016 Bishop Alphonse Wathokudi appointed me to coordinate MU and head the Women Department, and that is how I joined Mothers' Union.
What do you do for families in your localities?
As Mothers' Union, we have a lot of activities in our communities. The Diocese consists of 5 archdeaconries and 36 parishes, each archdeaconry and parish have MU leaders through whom we work. We train and empower these leaders periodically since they can serve only for a few years, and then new ones are elected.
- MU identifies with families during the loss of dear ones. They contribute whatever they can (money, food, etc. as burials is a communal event that attracts many people) to support such families and pray with them.
- We counsel couples intending to get married.
- We identify with the vulnerable in our communities and pray with them and give them support in our little ways. (The elderly, child-headed households/orphans).
- Mothers' Union encourages couples who are cohabiting to wed in church.
- We have seminars in parishes with the marrieds and discuss issues that affect our homes and together chat about the way forward.
- We hold seminars with children during the holidays. We have learned that most of the parents are so busy with work/business that children are left in the hands of housemaids who teach them whatever. This practice is becoming a problem in our communities.
- We also visit schools to talk to the girl child. This year we had planned to bring Fathers' Union on board in this ministry so that they could speak to the boy child too.
- Besides family ministry, we are active in prison ministry, visiting and having fellowship with the prisoners. We bring them supplies like soap and clothes donated by members.
- We visit health facilities too, with such supplies as above and foodstuff from our gardens. Most of our members are peasant farmers. We are usually overwhelmed by the number of people who need our support, yet we have limited resources.
Why did you go to America?
I was invited by our partner, the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas, who supports the women of Uganda through Threads of Blessing ministry. This ministry has been going on for over 16 years now. Threads of Blessing asked me to coordinate the program in Uganda, which began in Nebbi diocese with 30 women. Over the years, it has expanded to 13 Dioceses supporting 650 women. The women design and embroider stories. Our friends from the USA collect them during our annual conference, which I host at the Women's Vocational Training Centre. Threads of Blessing sells and gives back 100% of the money to individual beneficiaries who use the money as school fees, start a business, support the church through tithes, build better homes, etc.
I came to Texas to meet different groups that support this ministry, to talk about the impact it is having on the women in Uganda. Three days later, everything changed. All the programs were canceled, and before I could travel back, Uganda closed her borders.
What has life been in lockdown away from your family and your country?
I must say it wasn't easy at the beginning; I was worried about my children. I have three children - Aaron 14, Cyrus 12, and little Helen turned five on June 10. I felt they needed me more, and so I prayed to God to give me the strength to carry on. I understood that he knew why he allowed this to happen anyway.As time went on, I became calm and stronger every day with support from my hosts, whom I have known since I was a little girl. Garry and Helen Schnelzer, who I call Dad and Mum, have been my parents in this part of the world. They were the ones who initiated the partnership that exists between Nebbi Diocese and the Diocese of West Texas. They have provided for me, fed me, housed me, and we have become a family, and enjoy each other's company. I even don't know how to say thank you to them now.
I have a jacket I am embroidering, and this keeps me busy. We post our products on the website threadsofblessing.org. I invite you to log in for details.
I am also pursuing a master's degree in Public Administration from Uganda Christian University, and so from time to time, I get busy with research work.
I have become part of a ministry at Christ Episcopal Church here in San Antonio, Texas, called Sidewalk Saturday. I volunteer for 3 hours every Saturday to pack and give food to the poor and homeless. I enjoy this as it keeps me busy, I meet new people, and it gives me joy seeing the needy coming and leaving with smiles on their faces.
There is now the hope of returning home to Uganda, except there is no definite date. Through the Embassy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs gives periodic updates on how we will return home. The Embassy asked stranded Ugandans to register two months ago, and so they give us updates on what is happening.
Thank you, and God bless your work.
Yours in Christ's service
MU Community Development Coordinator
Diocese of Nebbi.
Note: Sunday has a return ticket home to Uganda on July 15. While we are praying this flight will become a reality for her to be reunited with her family, she has contributed to and become a precious part of the Threads of Blessing and Christ Church communities. We will miss her.