As we begin the season of Thankfulness to cap off the year, Executive Director of MPA, Heather Cammarata, is recapping one of her most humbling and memorable experiences in Africa during 2014.
October 17, 2014: We are visiting post-fistula women who are in the first cohort receiving pigs as a part of the piglet living loan microfinancing program in Masaka, Uganda. The women have been through so much already–they have incurred a horrific injury during childbirth, have subsequently received a surgical repair procedure at Kitovu Hospital, and now are struggling to provide for what children they may already have had in the face of continuing stigma and shame. All of the women live in remote rural areas, even by remote rural standards. All of theme struggle in extreme poverty.
We park at the side of the dirt road and follow a footpath about a half-mile long and almost as steep to the small plot that Tigita Sitadia keeps as her homestead. She is 38, a widow, and mother to nine children. Tigita suffered an obstetric fistula with her tenth pregnancy, and lost that child. She received her pig the day before, and we are visiting to inspect her newly constructed pig pen and to hear the status of how she recruited two friends to assist.
Tigita is quiet and shy. She conveys her gratitude. Her oldest daughter who is 18 years old runs to fetch a papyrus mat from their home. Tigita kneels to present the mat as a token of her thanks to MPA for supporting women like her. I’m so moved–out her the little she has, she has put in hours to craft a mat as a thank you. Tigita, the thanks go to you.
This memory is one of many that has touched me deeply, and has kept me connected in spirit with the people I have met who have been offered some kind of hand up through a small living loan. In November, as we reflect on what it means to be thankful, I can think of no better example than Tigita Sitadia.