It’s good to have old friends. It’s always cool to make new friends, but there’s something special about having a few people that knew you way back when. And even though I hadn’t seen her in many years, I was so pumped to find out that my hometown friend Roxanne Robbins had started a ministry caring for the poor in Kampala, Uganda.
I’ve known Roxanne since I was 8 years old, and our families were friends. She eventually worked in my dad’s office one summer before being swept up into full time ministry with Campus Crusade for Christ. Fast forward 20 years through a fascinating career in journalism and public relations (think White House, Olympics and Super Bowls), eventually Roxanne jumped the tracks, settled in Kampala and started Tukutana, (www.tukutana.org) a ministry that “provides resources and opportunities for East African orphans, vulnerable children, and their caregivers.” Tukutana means “working together, with hope.”
Even after visiting Roxanne (and her adopted Ugandan son Wasswa) to witness the Tukutana ministry last Fall, I still don’t fully grasp the scope of what she and her team accomplish there. When I arrived to meet them, she had recently returned from a well-opening ceremony in a remote part of the country where Tukutana helped provide clean water to 3 villages. In the 4 days I spent in Kampala, I witnessed a thriving ministry to children in need that turns into sports camps and jobs training in the summer, and I witnessed Roxanne furthering her “Sowing Change” program (helping women in poverty build small businesses) right before my eyes as she spoke with a seamstress in the market.
It was obvious that the woman and her daughter lived in poverty, and her work was not good enough to buy in bulk for Tukutana’s product line. After speaking with her for a minute, Roxanne invited her to come receive training from Tukutana – free of charge. The woman’s daughter asked, “How will we find you?” And Roxanne replied, “I will come for you.” And it brought me to tears, standing in the sticky mud of the outdoor market.
Needless to say, I’ve been excited to support Tukutana ever since I learned about what my long-lost friend was doing. If you’ve been to a concert recently, you may have seen the Tukutana products out on the table, all hand made by women to whom Tukutana has made all the difference.
I don’t always have Tukutana stuff with me. Sometimes I run out of product, or sometimes I can’t fit as much as I’d like in my suitcase, but when I do sell their items I take no money from the sales. I carry the products with me on the road because I want to support the work Roxanne and her team are doing. I want to support the dozens of amazing kids that gather at the Tukutana home every day after school and all day on Saturday. Whenever you purchase a Tukutana item at the Slugs & Bugs merch table, every penny you spend goes right back into this good work Roxanne is doing. In a small way, Slugs & Bugs and Tukutana are “working together, with hope” for Uganda.