Soaring on angel wings

 

I have always considered motherhood to be an unparalleled gift, whether through adoption or biologically. No offence dads, you do a good job of raising children and can make or break them, but there’s something about a mother’s love which is surely significant and can somehow be felt whether or not you have yours with you.  My deep regard for motherhood was the reason I was over the moon when Jackie told me she was expecting her first child. I conveniently skipped the part about the complications she was facing so that I could first ululate and then return to that point at length.

I hadn’t seen Jackie in months and our communication was mainly over the phone. I constantly checked for updates, especially when I found out that she had a few issues with her pregnancy and she always calmed me down. My pleas to visit were not addressed and I figured she wanted to be alone. I could, after all relate to that feeling. I decided I would pray for her and wait for such a time when she was ready to receive visitors.

On a chilly Friday morning, I made the decision to check on her physically and hoped she would agree. I noticed that her messages that morning were vibrant, and filled with emoticons, something that had been absent in the past weeks. I took this as a good sign. We agreed that I would visit in the afternoon so I spent the rest of the day working on school assignments in preparation. Once I had finished, I flagged down a boda boda and told her I was on my way. She informed me that she was planning to go to hospital and I figured I’d tag along.

When I reached her home, I was welcomed by her smiling mommy who has aged so gracefully, it is scary. I told her as much. I suspect she is one of those people who downplays compliments because as I was gushing, I told her “You look very nice.” Her : You too. But can’t you just allow and leave me out, I thought 😛 I got to Jackie’s room and waited as she’d stepped into the bathroom. When she returned, she was wincing in pain and clutching her stomach stretching out for the bed. She lay down and we struggled to make conversation. I could see the agony in her eyes, it broke my heart. Her mum asked if I’d stay long as she needed to go to church and I responded in the affirmative. I had so many questions but could tell Jackie was in too much pain so I had to stop myself at intervals. Her pain was increasing and she was bleeding.  She kept asking me to leave so that I wouldn’t see her in that state. I mentally saved her slaps for when she would get better. We prayed and sat in silence occasionally. I really wanted to distract her but I was mostly helpless in the end. The plan was to go to the hospital but because she had been there the day before and received the diagnosis and medication from two different specialists, we hesitated in the hope that there would be a change. Paracetamol was the only accepted painkiller and it did not seem to bring any relief so we eventually decided to head to the hospital.

Her brother, Joseph, drove slowly, careful to avoid potholes and letting impatient drivers overtake as Jackie’s pain intensified with every bump. In the meantime, her Doctor was called and he confirmed he was at the hospital. Upon arrival, forms were filled and we waited as Jackie was the second patient the Doc would see. She felt the bleeding increase and we quickly ran to the bathroom. Now, this silly patient of mine started to dictate what I was allowed to do/not do and see/ not see. She would ask me to turn around or close my eyes *smh* “ I don’t want you to see things unless you promise to forget.”  It turned out, the bleeding was intense and the clots bigger than she’d experienced before.

Jackie finally saw the doctor as her sister, Daphne, Joseph and I waited. When she got out, she told us we were going to the ward. We were glad she was spending the night because at least then, she could be observed. As we reached the parking lot, I dared to ask what the doctor had said “My baby is…” She broke down into tears. I did not want to ask again for fear of the response but Daphne asked, and that dreaded thought was confirmed. Daphne and I both broke down immediately only for Jackie to ask “Why are the rest of you crying.” Sigh

“I never knew until that moment, how bad it would hurt to lose something you never really had.”

It was a quiet walk to the ward. What do you tell someone who has just lost her baby? I could not even begin to conceive the millions of thoughts in her head. Jackie needed to prep for the theatre and only one person was allowed to go with her. Daphne quickly declined saying she’d just cry throughout so I went in with her. I wasn’t any stronger but it had to be done. At this point, it was time to call close family and just ask them to come without specifics so that they wouldn’t receive the news over the phone. I kept trying not to think about Jackie’s heartache. The sheer shock of an ‘ordinary day’ ending like this was haunting my mind. Her heart was probably in a million little pieces as we sat and talked about the situation and everything else. Before long, her hubby, Jacob showed up and he said a prayer just as I walked out to give them privacy.

 

By the time Jackie got out of the theatre, there were no less than 10 members of either family gathered outside the hospital room, anxious to check on her. Her anaesthesia had worn off and she was smiling. Sigh. We all got into the room and this is the question I remember, “How are you?” Jackie responded “We are fine, it’s just Jacob and I now.” Ooh the heartbreak!

The rest of the evening was spent discussing food, politics, roads and other totally unrelated topics. There was even a debate over which crisps are better; whirlwind or happy crisps (These are made in Uganda, please support these guys if you haven’t..oh  and give me your reviews) Joseph and Daphne insisted happy crisps were better and we agreed to disagree. I digress.

As I left that night, I told Jackie I hoped she’d get some sleep but she said she wanted to stay up for as long as she could so that she could mourn. I totally understood that. I knew deep down the mourning would take a long while but believed she’d find joy and comfort along the way.

angel wings

What stood out for me through it all was the amount of support and love I could see and feel, just being in that room. Everyone in the family who called to check in or who was called, whether they had reached home or were stuck in traffic in the opposite direction- dropped what they were doing and showed up. I was humbled and deeply touched by their warmth. The day’s events had been shocking and miserable but I was glad to see this silver lining and know that Jackie would be taken care of and pull through, somehow.

 

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My birthday wish

Every little bit of me is excited and full of cheer not because everything is going my way but because I have life and oh what joy that brings me, especially today! 😄

September is a special month for me for two reasons; it is the month I was born and also the same one I chose to take a leap of faith and leave formal employment to build my dream.
This post has a little something to do with both.
Four years after quitting my job, and 5 after starting this 40-40 journey and it is still such a struggle, so much fatigue and heartache. I am still mostly clueless and some days are longer than years.
That is the truth.
The other truth is that it is an extremely rewarding gift, that keeps giving. So many lives have been transformed, including my own and I am convinced that the best is yet to come!

This year I thought I would travel to an exotic destination to mark the passing of a decade. After a while, I joked to my friends that all I wanted for my birthday was money. I have a long list of needs and I would help them help me. They gift me with cash, I buy stuff I actually want/need instead of a gift I might just look at, unable to re-gift it or use it. In my genius plan,everyone wins😛
Buttttt…there are some things more important to me  than the Maldives and Jimmy Choos.
One of those things is the dream that is 4040. A chance for all of us to play our part to make the world a better place.
I now have a birthday wish that is less about me and more about some beautiful children, some of whom I am yet to meet- getting more resources to make their lives better and we can get them there-together!

A month ago, I signed us up to this platform called Global giving. It presents an opportunity for people all over the world to contribute to causes they believe in and you stand a chance to have your donations matched.

The catch is that we need to raise a minimum of $5,000 (approximately 18 million) to stay on as permanent partners and receive access to new donors.
The other catch is that we have until 29th September to make this happen.
This $5,000 will bring us closer to our dream of setting up learning centres for vulnerable children. These centres will have books,toys, computers and learning aids availed at absolutely no cost.

You can watch a short video that summarises our dream here

These centres will also give individuals an opportunity to train children in different skills.
You get to spend your free time and weekends teaching the children an a centre near you how to play guitar, code or fix a car. The opportunities are limitless!
These children will not only learn but also get exposed and hopefully inspired by your success stories. These activities will also keep them occupied instead of being engaged in child labour or crime.

The first centre will help us test various interventions, learn and improve so that we can put up many more for children who most deserve it.

So how do we do this? We do it together!
You can follow the link and make your donation here. 

Will you be our first? 🙂

Donations can only be made online using a debit/credit card.

I do have another suggestion though. If your preference is mobile money and it is what you can access easily, we can make it happen too.
I am happy to share my number (which is registered in my names so your heart is at rest) 077-749-9991

Every donation that will come on there shall then be converted to dollars and I will find someone to donate the equivalent on the platform.
I will then send you evidence of your donation on the website.

We need 500 people donating $10 each/250 people donating $20 dollars, 100 people donating $50 dollars each or 50 people donating  $100.
That is approximately Ugx 36,000,72,000,180,000 and 360,000 respectively.

Lucky for me, I believe in the impossible; Not only because I am a dreamer but also because I have seen the power of people almost daily, for the most part of this beautiful journey.
We can do this!💪

Check out our Website, Facebook and Twitter to get acquainted with our work if this is the first time you are hearing of it.

Also, here is a picture of me doing that which makes my heart leap for those who don’t know me personally but will come across this blog post.

Es black and white

Please join me to make my birthday wish come true.  So many lives will be better for it.

Thank you in advance!

Suits

Another guest blogger, yaay! >>

As usual, today I woke up and dressed for work. And as usual, it was a suit, shirt and tie. But this was different. My attire was all new.I must confess I like new clothes. Normally once I have bought new clothes I want to wear them immediately.  This was the case this morning.

In my ‘humble opinion’ it is best if all the clothes and accessories are new. There is something just not right abouta new suit and old shoes. In this case the clothes were new. The shoes are six months old. So not too bad.

After dressing my wife told me I was smart. And I felt good since I think she has good taste. That is one of the perks of being married. Most days she complements me on my dressing. Before marriage, she would compliment me on the days we met which was a few times a week.

Sometimes I can spend a lot of time deciding which tie matches with which shirt. I may decide that a blue tie matches with a white shirt. Then after deciding, I try on a black suit and then decide that while the blue tie and white shirt match, the black suit is not the best match for them. So I try on a gray suit, then conclude that the gray suit matches with the blue tie but is not the best match for the white shirt. So I am back to zero. This can go on for upto thirty minutes especially if you add the time it takes to tie a tie and then discover that the tied tie is a bit longer than it should be (it should reach around the belt buckle), meaning I end up tying it again.

At such moments, I wonder where the culture of lawyers dressing up in suits came from. And why I have to bother with this ritual 4 times a week. I first had to wear suits regularly in law school around 2006. Back then, I did not know much about suits. So I asked my elder brother for advice and he gave me a small book about office wear. It had lots of information about how a suit jacket should fit on your shoulders, the length of the suit jacket, which colours of match best and the like. I was entering a bold and brave new season of my life after a wearing tshirts and jeans for the whole of university.

I remember asking two seasoned-suit-wearing friends of mine to go suit hunting with me. They assisted me select 3 suits. When I got back home I drove my mum and sister nuts by trying on the suits several times and asking them whether the suit jackets met my shoulders at the perfect angle.

At law school I learnt that one of the main reasons lawyers dress up is to make a good impression, the so called “halo effect” theory. According to the theory, when someone meets a smartly dressed lawyer, they are likely to develop some positive biases about the lawyer. They are likely to believe that the smartly dressed lawyer must also be important, intelligent, confident, articulate, and full of deep knowledge about the law.

It is now 11 years later and I still wear suits. In fact, I have become so attached to the idea of wearing suits that I feel there is something missing on days that I dress down. At my office, we normally dress up in suits from Monday to Thursday.It can be ridiculous suiting up on really hot days. We dress down on Fridays. Curiously, I rarely meet face to face with my clients. Often, they are actually based abroad. Most communications are by email or phone. So I suit up every day to come and deal with mostly clients who will never see me. Once in a while, a local client might pop into the office for a meeting.

When I was an associate, it was more important to dress up, because my job often involved going to government offices to follow up on company registration applications, do land searches and the like. And generally I got the sense that government officials treated you more seriously if you were smartly dressed. Nowadays, most of my work is done from my desk.

So why do I still dress up? Habit? To give an example to the associates and interns? To fit in with the other dressed up colleagues? To feel good about myself? All the above I guess. I probably should start dressing down more but I do not know how to even begin.

By Ray Musyoka

Angaza

I have not written here in so long. What better way to come back into the game than with a piece of writing about something I hold so dear?

For context, ‘Angaza’ is Swahili for shine/illuminate. We chose it to represent all the light the children we work with will beam into the world. Our Angaza program is not just about children learning to read and write better, but also changing the world in their own little ways.

I will not say much more. Let me go ahead and share this beautiful piece by one of our volunteers.

 

Let there be light that burns like the midnight oil

Like candle wax that drips like sweat

Or the tears of a parent

Or the glint of rainbow hues

Sparkling through the dews on morning grass – bare cracked feet swooshing past

Wading through swamps – feet lifted dainty like the hem of a skirt

Trudging over hot sand – one eye out for snakes and such…

It is said that in the olden days, finding knowledge was harsh

Now we realise that it’s gotten much worse

But beneath the light of Angaza –

Watch how the ground is compelled to split in half

How the seeds that fell along the path and on the rocks and among the thorns-

Sprout and curve

Stop a moment and make low bows to the clouds

Discern then how their branches rapidly spread

How the roots reach for further depth

These roots of seeds that refused to be eaten by the birds;

Or scorched by the sun, or choked at the neck

Like a tenacious truth

First whispered in a quiet room

Swelling and gaining strength and attaining shape

Till one day they’ll hold sway over cities and hills and plains

Casting their shade – dropping their leaves in a gentle hail

Healing the turbulent;

And spelling doom to fear and ignorance.

 

So let us then;

We Guardians of this Light never let it blaze in vain

I too by the power of Angaza have been compelled

Heartbeat, quickening in tune with the way our minds race

Fist pressed close against the chest

Glance lifted like the chin

Hallucinating in retrospect

Writing this vision like a letter and spreading the word

 

Jambula

I have not been able to write in ages. I know why, but at the same time I don’t.

A few minutes ago, I found this little book in my memories; one of the sweetest, most thoughtful gifts I have ever received. I got it one year ago today and I am sure there is a reason I had another look at it today. I have read it over and over again, and it feels like someone is giving me a warm hug, telling me ‘every little thing is going to be alright.’

It is the beautiful sunrise, the middle-of-the-night rain,the cozy couch, that favourite song, all in one.

I am archiving it here because it is just sooooo good 🙂

Thursday..

36

Originally posted on Thursday 6 April

It is Thursday, my most ‘predictable’ day of the week because I am sure how it will end- with a 4040 meeting.
I often schedule appointments around it..If anyone wants to have wedding meetings with me involved, I ask that Thursday isn’t an option; if there is an invitation on a Thursday, I make an exception only if it is really important or if I know my presence will make a difference.
Everyone who knows me, knows this bit of my schedule. *If I owe you money, this is all a joke👆*
This bond has lasted longer than some relationships. We stick together. Before the meetings we are catching up, during the meeting we’re being a menace to the chairman and after the meeting we are saying goodbye but really staying. <cue song- Everytime I try to leave, something keeps pulling me back…🎼🎶🎵>
Even when I am unwell, I force myself there. I know that a night fight or disagree, but we all want the same thing-to create change and that is priceless.
Today it rained in the evening and there were some cancellations as expected but still 14 friends were there to discuss over tea and snacks, sharing ideas that we hope will change lives.
We used to meet on Tuesdays, then two members enrolled in a Master’s class that required them to study on Tuesday. We moved days and never looked back.
We have had ‘5 homes’ where we have met for 5 years.
Some members have settled down and stopped coming, others have settled down and still come; some are single and searching..others are single and being searched..and some..we don’t even know..and it doesn’t really matter. What we know is a have each other.

I don’t know what this picture will look 5 years from now and to be honest, that doesn’t make me lose sleep at night (as much as it used to) I am basking in the now..and the now is beautiful!

It speaks of dreams and rainbows, pain and lessons, love and loss, hard work and loyalty. It provides so many things I never even knew I wanted, that fit right into this life of mine.

 

I probably didn’t do much in my own power, to deserve this blessing that keeps on giving..but one thing is for sure; I will do everything in my power to keep it, to keep them.

Past joys

35
Today’s entry has come so easily.

On this day, 3 years ago; I posted this

Originally posted on 5 April.

It is the ordinary days when you get up early, run a few errands and try to make all ends meet that turn out extraordinary.
Yesterday was one of those.
At lunch time a stranger asked if he could pay for our meal (my friends and I) When he noticed my puzzled look, he simply said “Thank you for the good work you do in the community, I am 40-40.” He paid the bill and left.
We were mesmerised, to say the very least!

Later that evening, after jumping from one appointment to another-literally, I honoured an invitation to Sales pitch Night where 40-40 had a slot to speak. I arrived late, made my 5 minute pitch and joined my team at our table.

At the end of the night, it was mentioned that there had been ‘secret judges’ throughout the event and we were handed an award for “Best Pitch.”

 

The shock and elation, I can’t even explain..plus people generously donated to 4040 just based on my pitch- at very short notice!
Here I am still wowed..and amazed!
Let everyday be exciting even if it is ordinary-for God, the maker of all will add an extra to your ordinary.

Thank you Jamila for organising this event and successfully pulling it off.
40-40 team, you rock.

Bless you all.

Limitless blessings

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Real time update; From an email I received.

 

Dear Esther

Greetings from *Renewed hope family to the 40/40 team. Hoping you are all doing well. I am happy to inform you that we are doing well, the children are doing well too.
I am glad to inform you that *Renewed hope* has of late gotten a partnership with an American based organisation called *New day international. They purposely registered to work with us and in this they have committed themselves to raising money to help the running of *Renewed hope which is going to include salaries, food etc.

They are also thinking about constructing a medical facility that will as well serve the community, construct a secondary school and also buy land for *Renewed hope for farming. They hope to work with us on this in phases.

We are praying about everything they tell us as we waiting on God.

Keep praying for us. Here is a reminder that it was because of the partnership that we have had with you that the world got to know more about us, reaching this stage is a great success that is attributed to your support and good relationship with us.
Thank you.

P.s: *I edited names of people/organisations to protect their identity*

Do you see God? Always working overtime for those who love and serve him🙏