By Chris Crowstaff, August 2012
Three years ago today, I was in Kaabong - an isolated semi-desert warrior region of Uganda, close to the borders of South Sudan and Kenya.
I was there as a guest of Grace Loumo, a remarkable woman who has dedicated her life, for the last 25 years, to helping to empower the women and girls in this poverty-stricken area.
Grace's group, AWARE Uganda, get few visitors. The environment and conditions in Kaabong are hostile and the accommodation basic. But I had determined to try and seek them out, after reading a statement about women and peace that Grace had published on the internet, which touched me deeply.
The work Grace was doing with the women of the warrior tribes was an inspiration. And, on returning to the UK I resolved to see how we could help to highlight her work.
AWARE Uganda became the start of our Field Partner programme.
Over the last three years, I have stayed in regular contact with Grace, and more recently with her daughter Teddy who has moved to the UK.
In May this year, AWARE Uganda and Safeworld had facilitated a partnership between the school in Kaabong and a small village school in rural England.
The next month, I heard there might be a chance that Grace could be coming to the UK, after participating in the global HIV/AIDS conference in Washington DC. I was determined that we should meet again and that Grace should visit the school here.
And today it happened.
I went with my husband Andrew to meet Grace and Teddy from the train, and it was like reuniting with long-lost friends! And there was a wonderful surprise - because they had brought Teddy's enchanting four-year-old daughter, Laurel, with them!
We had arranged a celebratory lunch with Safeworld staff and supporters, and then went on to the school where we were shown around by Tom Forrest, one of the pupils, and the deputy head, Annie Schafheitre.
Then back to our house, where we spent an hour or so talking with Grace about her work. All too soon, it was time for our three visitors to catch a train back to London.
To see Grace again, and here in the UK, after all this time, felt surreal! And to think that, in another week, Grace will be back in the harsh reality that is Kaabong life.
The contrasts between rural England and rural north-east Uganda could hardly be more extreme.