Reporting from: Gulu, Uganda
Local Contact: Lisa Field-Elliott
What kind of work are you doing in Uganda?
I traveled to Northern Uganda to witness and document the women and children working with the Community Action Fund for Women in Africa (CAFWA), a non-profit organization that works to empower women in conflict and post-conflict areas to rebuild their lives through financial security, increased food production, and environmental restoration.
While in the country, I had the privilege of visiting villages and women’s homes, hearing their stories of unthinkable suffering, and also those of finding greater freedom through the opportunity to support one another and to work together in women’s groups.
This project is part of my greater Doorways Project which is a collection of images and stories from around the world of women who are walking through doorways toward greater freedom in their lives. What I have found to be true is that our doorways to freedom most always show up through our connections with one another. Through relationship. And through our willingness to see and be seen. It is my hope that the images and stories shared through this project will inspire women who may not yet feel they have found their doorway (or who may have been too afraid to pass through) to begin to look for their own unique passages to freedom from the suffering and separation they experience. Further, It is my vision that the Doorways Project will create new doorways through alliance with compassionate international humanitarian organizations and the populations they serve; namely, those women who may not have the strength or resources to open the door for themselves.
What have you seen there that inspires you artistically, creatively or otherwise?
Most inspiring was the resilience of the Ugandan women. Not one was personally unaffected by the ravages of war, famine and death. But what I witnessed was a willingness to continue to walk through those doorways toward freedom. To seek and participate in the building of those doorways, through literacy education, farming, small business and mutual reliance on one another.
Even more, despite the harsh realities of these women’s experiences, there was joy and generosity. I was welcomed, fed, and the women danced and sang for us. I was reminded that, no matter what, we are connected through our shared experience—that of the desire to connect, to trust, and to be seen. This desire to be expressed is, in my opinion, creative inspiration.
What can our readers do to support the work you are doing and/or other needs in Uganda?
Please look at and support the work of CAFWA.
Also, see the Doorways Project for personal stories of two women I met in Uganda—Helen and Julliet.
Lisa Field-Elliot is a photographer and writer from Santa Barbara, California. She shares her experiences, in words and images at doorwaystraveler.com with the hopes of inspiring you to look for your next doorway to freedom.
Christine Mason Miller is a writer and mixed-media artist who loves to travel, wander and explore, whether on her own or vicariously through others. Her next book – Desire to Inspire: Using Creative Passion to Transform the World – will be released in November 2011 by North Light Books. Visit her at www.christinemasonmiller.com. Eager for more of her travel musings? Visit www.gypsygirlsguide.com.
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