Faith in Alice



"You can have hope without faith, but you cannot have faith without hope." 


The quote seemed wrong: are faith and hope not interchangeable? Isn't putting my hope in something the same as putting my faith in something? As it turns out, not at all. The quote made perfect sense once I looked up the dictionary definitions.


Hope: a thing, situation, or event that is desired.

Faith: strong or unshakable belief in something, especially without proof or evidence.


Essentially, it's the difference between wanting something and believing you can actually have it.


Hope for a healthy life is what each girl is granted at Kwagala Project. Love, counseling, education, and the invitation to dream are all part of that hope, dispensed in an environment of acceptance. It's a very powerful thing, hope. But if it's not met with faith, it can't radically and permanently change a thing.  


So how do girls like Alice summon the kind of faith needed to turn hope into reality? The same way any of us do: one day at a time, with patience and dogged determination.


I wrote about Alice last year when she graduated from tailoring school. The same unshakeable perseverance that led her to finish second in her class is now fueling her career. In fact, it has accelerated a transformation that stands in total contrast to the Alice we first met, scared to even tell us she wanted to study fashion.


Her first leap of faith was sharing that dream. With her talent and creativity evident, she was encouraged to enroll in a local tailoring curriculum. Her next leap of faith was attending school for the very first time. Alice was warned it would be difficult, but she accepted the challenge.


Her faith was tested daily. Her courage strengthened by battling through every hard thing that came her way. Basically, the girl simply refused to give up.


Eyes of faith allowed Alice to develop a clear vision. She could see her dream, had experienced freedom from her past, and would not let any remnant of that past deny her a future. Alice was all about moving forward and began making audacious goals for herself. Her momentum was contagious, infecting her house-sisters and bringing them into a realm of creative possibilities never before explored. Alice was not only pushing her limits, by example she pushed others.


Alice attained an internship at a popular shop in Gulu, which led to new hope: having her own store and selling her own designs. "Women will wear my clothes," Alice states on a regular basis. She has a strong and unshakable belief that it will happen. Total faith, but not blind faith. She knows the stiff competition in the marketplace and the hard work it will take to get there.


There have been plenty of bumps and bruises along the way. At one point, Alice discovered that a shopkeeper was taking advantage of her inexperience, having her work twice as hard for half the pay. Alice learned to appropriately assert herself, a daunting task for a trauma survivor, and successfully negotiated fair compensation.


Though not a solo entrepreneur just yet, Alice has earned her own space in the massive market. She has a prominent workstation where she creates original designs for her current employer.


I anticipate another update soon. I see it coming with a picture of Alice holding a custom-made sign, which will hang on her first shop. More importantly, Alice is living with eyes of faith - she can see it too.


Article Submitted by Kristin Hendricks, Founder, Kwagala Project, NFP


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