In 2007 / 2008 I was on my death bed. My priest picked me up from Saint John Regional Hospital. The nurse told him that I was likely to have an allergic reaction. I had just received 25 units of plasma from 25 donors. He told her "she is riding with a man of God". We were given Benadryl (it is an anti-histamine to beat the allergic reactions0.
Fr. Richard kept me alert (I usally veg out after each treatment). Imagine my shock when he told me that he was going to recommend for me to go on Vesty. Then the Child and Youth Committee (also the Parish Committee). I looked at that man and thought he had gone cookoo. But he is one of the most brilliant people I have ever met. He knew that if I followed the doctor instructions to rest and do nothing, I would die. My spirit was very broken and he knew to repair it needed me to be active. He had every reason as he had watched me bury Sabrina and watched the family sink into this deep dark hole. He refused to let me sink into it because there were 2 other little girls who needed me. I will never thank him enough.
Fast forward, our Parish has to give money to the community for community projects. The budget had been allocated. That year, the land slides had buried hundreds of my people in Bududa District. I do not preach in church. He asked me to speak instead of his sermon. Our parish does something amazing. All the church donations go to a community project. Each month, we designate something for a different organisation. Imagine his shock and the people in the congregation when I told them that the money must not be sent to #Uganda as there was no way to trace the money. Whoa. I asked them to use the money for local groups which we could visit and verify. There is a lot of need in our community too.
Then this wonderful gentleman presented to Vestry a motion to assign money for the charities I could pick in our Moncton area. The budget had been allocated. But the gentleman insisted on each group to give a bit back so that I could have $15,000 for Moncton area charities. You have to understand that Sharon Connor is a very powerful woman. Without her, I would not be anything in our community. Since I am adamant at numbers, we had to visit each charity and review their books. We picked on a good one but it had no books. Daily, Sharon would work in the Parish office for 4hrs and then drive to the shelter for another 6hrs. She set up all the filing, invoices, payrol, etc.. My job was only to negotiate for the Charity Status to be restored. I was there too daily but was still receiving plasma treatments at the hospital up the road. In the end, Sharon and I agreed to set up a Board of Directors for that place. Prior to that, it was only the husband and wife running it as a family business but 3yrs had elapsed without the charity renewal and the place was going to be shut down. Sharon spent a lot of hours on phones negotiating with people. I begged the MPs and the government to restore the charity (takes 8 months, we did it in 3 weeks but the need was very big).
Most people who run charities as a family business do not want a Board of Directors as they do not want to answer to anyone. However, Cal was superbly receptive to this. The donors, churches and government had lost their patience for lack of accountability. Cal is like an angel. You explain something and he immediately gets it. He is a Pastor so Administrative things are not his calling but when you explain, he gets it. So now we have a great place running wonderfully. Perhaps, it would not have happened if this one church group was not walking around the streets and praying for our homeless and street people. They once stopped at that shelter and prayed. The rest is history. The board of directors are all committed Christians who are VIPs in the biggest corporations in our area. Committed Christians with business Acumen meet Christianity.
Negotiating with all the suppliers for past bills was Sharon's job. Mine was being in the face of anything politics and government. I recall the day I stormed into City House and told them if they do not accept payment arrangements for the water bills, hell would break loose. They did and were surprised why I walked in high strang. Then the day I met the mortgage manager for their accounts, he was so calm. I was thinking he should be angry because we were about to miss payments. Wapi, the man sat down with me (I always know the on going mortgage rates) and he proceeded to reduce them all to what was current at that time. But I had to give more info on how the place was going to be recovering. Thanks to heaven, Sharon had made so many notes I could hardly even see it but it was clear and crisp of the expenses and donations. Shaaa.. I have seen things.
Sharon and I did something else too. We fired people. Well, it was necessary. Then one day we walked into a bank and asked someone to have lunch with us. At that lunch, we asked her to come join us. The lady quit the next hour. Took a big salary cut but this work was a heaven sent. So let us just say that we are not popular at the bank at all. The young lady started the next week and the rest is history. Tall, beautiful, 9 yrs in the navy, with commercial banking so we can keep track of all the donations. God lives.
I am no longer affiliated with that shelter. Hey, firing people left right and centre and enforcing a board of directors against their will does not make you popular. But they will remember that instead of being shut down, two women walked in and put some things in place. Plus, we also got them government money to renovate all their buildings. This place is a happening place in our city now. The other thing we had noticed is that they were relying on everyone to volunteer. NGOs and Church groups must stop exploiting people. I have messages where I was told that my demands for the volunteers to be paid were not Christian. I know my Bible very well. It is called exploitation when the people who run it drive nice cars, live in great houses, have all their expenses paid but the "Christians" must do it for free. Sadly, with a great training in Oil and Project Management, there was no room to intimidate me. Our God is very intelligent. Make no mistake.
Martha Leah Zesaguli (Nangalama)
Born and Raised in Uganda (Bududa District)
That is how I ended up being nominated for one of the most powerful women in the province of New Brunswick Canada.