The pictures in this photo journal are very special to me. They are from this past February when Jack and I visited Uganda. I keep them on my phone and look at them whenever I need a pick-me-up and a smile.
The schedule for our trip to Africa was planned around a visit to a remote area of Uganda called Mannya Village. Jack’s work partnered with the Cotton On Foundation to raise money by selling Hamish and Andy “gold” water bottles last year. All proceeds went towards a second outreach project, St. Jude Primary School, in Nabunga. We wanted go visit Mannya to learn more about the work that the Cotton On Foundation team is already doing in the community and their plans for the future.
The Cotton On Foundation started these projects in Uganda back in 2007. They don’t just provide aid to these people though, they empower the youth and mobilise communities, and are building futures through four major pillars: health, education, sustainability and infrastructure. The goal is to use all of Cotton On Foundation’s current contributions and resources in a way that will make the community able to continue, independent of Cotton On, on this path. Cotton On’s work is as much about strengthening the future as it about bettering the present.
I prepared myself for a heart wrenching and draining few days, but was surprised when I found myself completely uplifted and inspired the entire time. There is so much of contagious joy and optimism beaming out from the people of Mannya. They not only need the help, they want it. Everyone I met and spoke is positive and excited to take control and change their destiny.
During our time there, I realized that the picture of Africa painted for me growing up in the US is wrong, at least in this part of Southern Uganda. I’ve thought of it as a place that only contains sadness, misfortune and despair but the community of Mannya Village is far from all those things. The people are happy, friendly and welcoming. They have immense pride in what they do with the little they have. You should meet these people. I wish you could see the beautiful women dressed up in their Sunday best and the entire families’ dedication to get to 6am Sunday Mass service. I wish you could see the sparkle in the coffee farmer’s eyes as he explained how he takes advantage of Cotton On’s micro financing program. You should witness the way children carry out their responsibilities and I wish you could feel the deep, wide smiles of the 300 kindergarteners who now have a place to gain an education and someday change their world.
Give these people an opportunity and they will run with it; that’s exactly what Cotton on Foundation is doing now.
Some customers of Cotton On don’t even know the impact that they’re making. All you need to do to contribute is purchase Cotton on Foundation products online or at any Cotton On Store and 100% of the proceeds go to their various out-reach programs. Mannya Village is only one of the many projects that Cotton On Foundation is working on. There is so much to be done.