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Katelin's Journey: A Newporter in Uganda

New from Kampala, Ugand from Newporter Katelin Dutton.

This is another edition of Katelin's Journey - stories e-mailed from Newport Photographer Katelin Dutton, currently serving as an intern with Bead for Life in Kampala, Uganda. To learn more about Bead for Life, go to the link at the end of this article.

"It’s been a really interesting week and perhaps one of the most challenging. (just to use the word one more time!) Which is partially why it’s taken me so long to write. I had to digest and reflect a recent interview with a beader’s daughter. Ester is one of many children affected by Joseph Kony’s LRA war in Northern Uganda. Her and her mother Sarah fled to Kampala several years ago, but life has not been easy for them. I met Ester to do the interview at her home in Namuwongo, the slum I’ve already told you about. This is the “nice” place she’s living in now. She’s a twenty-two year old woman who still has the innocence and grace of a young girl. Her smile was incredibly gentle and I could tell she was a bit shy about doing the interview.

 Organizing the interview in her one bedroom home was interesting, as it was literally stuffed so full of lounge furniture there wasn’t any space for the tripod! So I filmed in the doorway. There are so many positive changes to Ester’s life since her mother joined BeadforLife last year. For one thing, she’s living in a house that has walls and a roof. She was staying in a wooden structure that they covered in plastic bags and clothing to make “walls.” But during the interview Ester focused a lot on what life was like before, in which she says, “I couldn’t sleep because I was afraid that men would come in and rob and kill us.” As they had no front door, the whole house was an open door and the slum area they were living in was very dangerous. She cried as she told me that on Christmas people would be preparing food, but her and her mother wouldn’t be. They would pretend to do things, or go for a walk together as they couldn’t afford food.

 The irony is that while Ester and her mother couldn’t afford to pay rent or regularly buy food, the little money her mother made she used to send Ester to school. Ester cried through the rest of the interview, letting her entire heart out to the stranger she had just met from BeadforLife.

 At the end of the interview she gave thanks to her mother, wiping her eyes, she says, “some people abandon their children in difficult situations, but she didn’t. All she did was give me a life to live with her. She’s a good mother. I really love her.”  It was one of those really moments when I wanted to reach out and give her a huge hug!

Ester’s story will be featured in the May edition of The Bead. To find the article, go to beadforlife.org and go to What’s Happening, scroll down and click on The Bead. You can also sign up for the email list, which is the easiest way to receive The Bead."

Until next time… Kate"

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