The Kireka slum clings to a stony hillside above Kampala, Uganda, home to at least 5,000 impoverished refugees who live in hand-fashioned shelters bordered by outdoor latrines. The hillside is not only home, but work: Strip quarries line its face. Men dig out its larger rocks, while hundreds of women spend their days in stooped manual labor, pounding the rocks by hand into walnut-sized stones for sale as construction material. They earn about $1.20 per day.
So American aid worker Amy Cunningham could scarcely believe it when she was summoned to Kireka last month for a festive celebration in which dozens of women handed over nearly $900 in wages: their gift to victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.
And that's not all. In a country where the average annual income is about $300, Archbishop John Baptist Odama raised $500 over several weeks among Catholics in northern Uganda in special collections for New Orleans relief, Aldrette said. In that part of the country, a 19-year civil war continues to disrupt life.
Many of the women of Meeting Point International -- in fact, most of those who donated their work to New Orleans -- are infected with HIV, Busingye said.
"There are so many groups out there that would basically give you the shirt off their backs if you needed it," Cunningham said. "They are so empowering. These are very strong women who identify, in particular, with suffering.
"We would consider them disenfranchised, but they are just extraordinary. They just said, 'We can do this.' And they did it."
Talk about living the Gospel!