Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Looking for A Few Creative Women

Women of the Proverbs 

The country of Uganda was once called ‘the pearl of Africa’ by Winston Churchill. It has lush tropical rain forests, lakes, rivers, wildlife, spectacular sunsets and many natural resources.  But the real jewels of this land-locked country the size of South Carolina are its people who are warm, friendly, sincere, and hard working. As in most African countries, women are the true backbone of their communities. If you can enhance women’s leadership potential, equip them with income generating skills and open them up to the power of the gospel, whole communities become transformed.
                It has been said in Africa, “Disciple a woman, disciple a nation.” The Women of the Proverbs project (WOP) seeks to do just this by empowering women in the village of Busoru. The project will train women through a Bible study focused on finance, business, character development and stewardship while simultaneously teaching the creative arts. WOP will use textiles, recycled fabric, fibers and other mediums of expression for women to develop themselves for the world’s good and God’s glory.

For 17 years, Pat Abbott lived in Bundibugyo, western Uganda as a missionary with World Harvest Mission (www.whm.org).  In March 2011, God called her to move to Busoru and begin a ministry for women focusing specifically on textile arts and discipleship. Pat has a BA degree in Art from Salem-Teikyo University in WV. This project returns Pat to her heart’s deepest passions and her twin desires to continue to remain in Uganda and live close to two orphaned children God has put in her life.
                Pat has a vision to use local materials like beautiful kitengi – wax print cloth widely available from the Democratic Republic of Congo, cotton grown in nearby Kasese, and papyrus that comes from the swamp areas. These, coupled with the principles of color, design, and quality control, create the potential for art products made by WOP to be a source of income for women.

The town closest to Busoru is Fort Portal; it is the capital of Kabarole district. This western region has one of the highest HIV infection rates in Uganda (6.9 %)[2]. Many women have been widowed or abandoned due to AIDS, war, or other tragedies, and struggle to raise family members as solo parents. In 1985, World Harvest Mission started a Presbyterian church in Fort Portal. They later bought land and moved to the village of Busoro 5 kilometers away. This church is entirely Ugandan-led; it also manages a primary school called Hope School.  Zoe Kasule, the pastor’s wife, has taught Bible study to women in the church for more than 16 years. Zoe has prayed for a development project for women in the area for years. She and Pat will co-lead WOP, with financial support raised by Pat and prayer support from WHM. 

The goals of this project are to: 
1. Identify, develop and disciple a dozen or so chosen leaders who will be known as “the Tabithas”[3]
[The specific aims for these women will to grow a deeper understanding of the centrality of the gospel in their lives, put into practice what they learn, and teach others what they have mastered. ]

2. Train, equip, and mobilize women in leadership through Bible study and the creative arts.

3. Create beauty by individual self-expression through textile art that glorifies God and empowers these women and their families.

4. Teach a missional understanding of economic development that blesses families and encourages the church.

5. Mentor women in the ministry of mercy to the poor and disenfranchised.

Current needs include:

a) Prayer for the vision to identify up to 10-12 women (the Tabithas) who have the willingness, determination and ability to spend 4-5 days learning one or more of the following:
·         Sewing                                                                                                                 
·         Quilting
·         Designing patterns
·         Weaving
·         The fundamentals of color design
·         The significance of using art to glorify God
·         The importance of quality control
·         Creating art from found and recycled materials

 b) Recruitment of U.S-based artisan partners for two short-term teams to visit in the spring or summer of 2012. The main purpose of each visit would be to train and equip the Tabithas in different arts-related skills (listed above).  This art component will be part of an intensive 6-8 week training program that will be spearheaded by Pat and Zoe. Along with leadership training and discipleship, this training piece will encourage the Tabithas to apply their skills in the marketplace and explore each woman’s potential to become a teacher of the WOP. 

Support for Artisans
Though this is not a typical mission trip but more of a community development endeavor, each artisan will be expected to raise prayer and financial support for their trip. 

If this project sounds interesting to you or you know of a woman who may have the skills we’re looking for, please get in touch with us by leaving a comment on this page! Thanks!