The following is a letter that went out to everyone who supported “The Next Step” and the desire of our Ugandan team to build a permanent home for Sole Hope on the land that we own.
I’ve heard it said, “If plan A doesn’t work….the alphabet has 25 more letters.” Over the four years my family and I have lived and worked in Uganda we have learned this lesson time and time again.
Last year at this time we were raising funds with your help to construct a new permanent home for Sole Hope on land that we had purchased. The plans include a new Outreach House, Clinic, Shoemaker Workshop, and other structures.
This February as our crew of workers started on the final section of wall surrounding the entire 8 acres, they were stopped by armed military officers. The men claimed that the trees on the land belonged to the army base next door, and the workers were illegally cutting them down where the wall was going up. The crew halted their progress and we began a legal process to get to the bottom of the problem.
After our first inquiry, we received an official letter from the Attorney General’s office stating they had no interest in the land and Sole Hope is the rightful owner. Because the the Attorney General oversees the army in Uganda, we began construction again. Wall building continued and we triumphantly broke ground on the much anticipated new Outreach House. After a short time, the troops came back with guns ordering the workers to stop. After several tense starts and stops to construction, troops moved onto the land, set up tents, and have denied us access.
Our lawyers filed for an injunction to remove the troops and allow us to proceed with building on OUR property. The injunction was denied because “the army had already occupied Sole Hope land by erecting their tents on the land and therefore with an interim order you can not even evict them.”
That is where we sit today. Sole Hope has legitimate, full, legal title to this land. We opened the boundaries and executed the sale properly. We legally recorded every move. Jinja municipal council and representatives from the Attorney General in Kampala have agreed we own the property and have received no explanation for why the military has evicted our workers. We have a mediation appointment set for October, and we are hoping for some resolution at that point.
So what does that mean for Sole Hope in Uganda?
We continue to focus on our mission. “Offering HOPE, healthier lives, and freedom from foot related diseases.”
We have rented space and opened up a new Outreach House in Jinja that has been at capacity most every day since July. With this and our amazing staff we are able to host 30-40 patients at a time that receive the critical medical relief to their extreme jigger problem as well as the very important education that will help them remain jigger free.
We are also working on doubling shoe production in our current space by hiring new tailors and shoemakers and providing them with the equipment and materials they need to accomplish this.
We continue to do weekly clinics in schools and villages seeing 150-200 patients each week.
In the meantime, all funds that have been donated for this project remain safe. The army is legally obligated to either let us continue our operations or pay us the value of the land and improvements. The funds for building are set aside and ready to be employed as soon as the way is clear.
Thank you for partnering with us in what has proven to be an exercise in patience, in grace, and in faith. If you have any questions please feel free to email me directly: firstname.lastname@example.org
Living & Working in Jinja, Uganda