The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts.

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Saturday morning a couple friends and I ventured to Town on a mission: Fabric Shopping.

The printed fabric is bright and beautiful.  I couldn’t help but buy a few pieces… imagining rooms in a house I don’t yet own or dresses yet to be designed by a corner seamstress with treadle sewing machine.  It reminded me of my mom and the fun we could have.

Here is a picture of Emily amidst the colorful whirlwind.

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Two friends flew home today… Emily to Seattle and Ruth to London.  Farewell, lovelies.

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Justice delayed…

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…is justice denied.  Right?

Monday I woke before dawn to accompany two IJM lawyers and an aftercare manager to the High Court where our client’s trial was listed for hearing. Our client, an elderly woman wearing traditional dress with those wonderful puffy sleeves, was waving as we drove into the court that morning. She was very sweet, very gentle. We held each other’s hands and said “bulungi” but beyond that her English and my Luganda failed.

Ugandans continued to stream into the courtyard, taking leave from work and families, spending precious money on transportation or walking miles to arrive for their scheduled court hearing.

Unbeknownst to them, a majority of the cases would not be heard.  Why?

No judge.  No registrar.  No chief magistrate.

A lawyer stared at the court building, disillusioned. “Look at all of these people coming to court hoping to receive justice. It is like going to a hospital without doctors.”

The judge and registrar were out this week at a conference in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania on the coast of the Indian Ocean. They had not left notice. A full week of cases scheduled on the docket would be pushed back another two months minimum. The chief magistrate had posted a letter on a bulletin board saying that he would be at a workshop on Monday. His cases would be adjourned as well.

Can you imagine arriving prepared for trial only to leave again? Can you imagine if this happened over and over and over and over…?

Our client’s case has been sitting for years. My colleague estimated that a case is only heard about half of the time that it is called for hearing–due to missing or unprepared judges, witnesses, case files, lawyers…

We dropped off our client at the home which we are fighting to protect.  She returned to our car with a clump of jack fruit seedlings to show her appreciation.

We’ll try again next time.  IJM always shows up.

The Hairy Lemon

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Good Friday 2012: I broke my two-year running tradition of attending The Journey‘s hallowed Good Friday service followed by margaritas at Pueblo Solis with my parents.  I missed it.  I miss them!

But sometimes, kids, life takes you to Africa.  (I have been watching way too much How I Met Your Mother, so forgive the omniscient, backwards-looking Bob Saget voiceover.)

Good Friday a group of us took a matatu a couple hours outside of Kampala to the banks of the Nile River.  I had the immense pleasure of getting to hold a baby on my lap for our journey.  His mother handed him to me as she was climbing in with her two children.  BABY!  He was wearing a sweet silk suit and immediately fell asleep on me.  Well, melt my heart.

We took a few bodas from the village to the banks of the Nile.   There were pigs

and a bell to alert the Hairy Lemon staff

on the island

that we need a pick up…

via canoe!

The Hairy Lemon is a small island with cabins, tents and a patio with simple bar and buffet.  It was peaceful and relaxing.  The Hairy Lemon provided tents and food–much easier camping!

We waded in the Nile

played games

walked around the small island

read books in hammocks

sang songs with a guitar.

Then it rained ALL NIGHT– and we are talking African rains– but my tent was not like The Green Monster of college camping trips.  Nary a drop of rain entered my tent.  I stayed cozy listening to the pelting rain and rolling thunder.  On an island.  In the Nile River.

Thank you, Hairy Lemon!  And thank you, Charity Queen for this drawing!  (You may need to click on it to get it to show…)

Transforming Structures

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Things have been busy here nearing the halfway point of my structural transformation design fellowship.

In addition to continuing excellent investigations, legal representation and aftercare for our individual clients who are victims of illegal land seizure, IJM-Uganda’s structural transformation (ST) team is kicking it into high gear.  We have project concept notes and budgets due plus local council leadership and police trainings begin in our ST pilot area over the next month.

Here are a few things I have been busy with:

  • Writing a comprehensive memo for my boss and HQ sharing all that I have learned about the World Bank’s project to digitize and revamp Land Registries and Land Administration in Uganda
  • Meetings with the Judiciary of Uganda’s IT department and consulting company regarding the Justice Law & Order Sector’s plans to install court recording/stenography systems in a pilot high courts
  • Drawing up budget estimates for the next five years of court improvements–including expanding the court recording pilot, installing new shelving and implementing new systems to track case files, increasing number of case tracking management computers, installing alternative power sources to combat continued power outages, and public information boards at each court in our pilot area
  • Drafting letters and MOUs (Memorandums of Understanding) and coordinating meetings with partner agencies to formalize our working relationships and request approval for trainings regarding best practices for combating land grabbing
  • Writing a research memo for my boss & HQ about how we can quantifiably measure the outcomes of our cooperative reform efforts in the courts at the end of our ST project
  • Continuing to meet regularly with clerks, office supervisors, registrars, magistrates and judges in our project area to learn about their jobs, systems, and resourcing & training needs.

It is busy, stretching, fraught with new challenges, sometimes overwhelming… but good.  Sometimes I have to get my eyes off of myself and my myopic deadlines to see what amazing things God is doing through IJM in our staff, in our clients’  lives, in Uganda, throughout the world–and in me.

I will try to keep you updated on work, play, travel, community, food….tell me what you want to know more about!  What do my people want to hear!?

Digital Reunion

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Last night before my bed and in their mid-day my “BFF” group met on a google hangout.  We are now spread between Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas and Uganda.

As to be expected it seems a majority of our time was spent battling technological glitches and trying to correct “Wait, I can’t hear you right now” problems.  But we got to see each other and get brief life summaries.

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We usually block out two weekends a year for “BFF Weekend” — a time of randomness and restoration in our crazy busy lives.  We call ourselves The Cedars of Lebanon.  Strong and firmly rooted.  And tall — I am the shortest of our gorgeous gang!

And even our cedar sappling made an appearance.  I miss my amazing girl, Ellie, soooo much.  Aunt Nattie loves you and will see you promptly in October when her feet hit American soil!