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Phenomenal Mothers..Please stand up

Every year on mother’s day, I send messages to the mothers that have been there throughout  my life. The main one herself,her friends, my friends who have little babies that can barely say ‘mama’ let alone happy mother’s day and my friend’s mum’s. That last group has made me lose a few friends. Their mother’s attack them for not sending messages and say but “Why can’t you be like Esther who remembered?” As a result, for those I really want to text, I first encourage the daughters to communicate so that I send mine MUCH later! For others, I just stopped so I could salvage the friendships..smh

This year, I sent one of my mum’s friends a message and her reply was “Happy Mothers’s day to you too.” I laughed and replied that I was still a ‘baby’ and thus did not qualify to have such a title. Her reply was ” You are more of a mother than all of us. Don’t you have 90 children?” I shrugged. I did not qualify to have that title, not at all! The number of children has since risen to 108 though. However they have a ‘real’ mother. Ms. Maria Kiwumulo who started the home and has dedicated her life to looking after them.

Word got out that 40-40 was working with the children at God’s grace orphanage and as a result, different groups have been getting involved to help out where they can. One such group is the rotary club of Kampala South. They came, were touched by what they saw and decided that she deserved an award for her efforts. Truth be told, there is no tangible gift or amount of money that can equal the love of a mother but appreciation goes a long way in re affirming one’s position.

This award ceremony took place last night. I thought I would see her in all her glory as she enjoyed her moment of fame. However, prior to my trip there, Maria called to tell me that 20 children were ill. I called a friend to get me some drugs so I could just pay and run back to work. She ended up getting the babies some fruity cereal as well. I was amazed.

Armed with packs of malaria meds, pain killers and the boxes of cereal, I returned to office and impatiently waited for the 5 o’ clock hour. It finally arrived.

The sight that I found waiting for me was something I would never have fathomed. Several children of all ages were sitting on the floor of the sitting room cuddled in groups, some in tears, others shivering and most just coughing. It looked and sounded devastating..all of it. *sigh*

I sat there feeling helpless for a split second but eventually got back to my senses. We sent for milk and made sure every child who had an ailment got pain killers at least as we tried to find a doctor who would make the necessary diagnoses. Does that word sound wrong to you? It does doesn’t it? Well it is correct..Ivy league education is good for you:) * I digress*

The mood was somber. How was I to keep strong when all I wanted to do was break down? It was not an option though. So Maria asked “mama w’abaana ngende?” (Literal meaning mother of the children should I still go?) I told her to leave and I would stay with them. This night was her chance to also enjoy some fruits of her labour. I couldn’t allow her to miss it.

A few minutes after her departure I simply sat down and drifted off into some sort of trance. I got out of it only when I noticed that baby Faith who had fallen asleep in my arms had done a number one on me and I was conveniently wearing a white skirt. I smiled:) I would go home after this so it did not matter. She was so peaceful. We got her a pamper, fresh sleep suit and pretty blanky and she was back in my arms. I had to take a walk to keep from breaking down.It was such an emotional roller coaster.When I got to the verenda, I found some of the children having praise and worship. As we sang, a hymn that I really love came up.

 Precious Jesus, I am ready to surrender every care

Take my hand now, lead me closer Lord I need to meet you there

This was exactly how I felt. Under the moonlight in my little shade I could surrender, without having to stifle emotions. When I looked at Faith in all her peacefulness, I said so many prayers; For her future and those of all the other children, for life, for joy, for peace in this life.

When I got back into the house little Esther knelt down before me and said “Mukama y’ebazibwe” I must have taken a whole minute before responding. *Sigh

The P.7 candidates had a teacher over helping them with maths. I could hear ‘rhombus, parallelogram and other Arabic words. The teacher was encouraging at times but often rude and hasty. They have no dad or mum to go home and whine to after this..That is all I was thinking.

We take food for them, cater to their education and everything we can but in all our conversations have we re affirmed our love for them? Do they know that they can tell us anything and trust us to keep a secret when we need to? Do they know that they are not alone? I had so many questions.

As I sat pondering, I turned to my left.Ronald was wincing in pain. He could barely speak.I am always teasing him about his shyness and we have ‘fights’ when he doesn’t hug me. This time round,his face only had dried out tears. I could barely look at him. I was the ‘shy’ one. *my heart hurt so bad.* Is this what motherhood ultimately feels like?

I know there are several good times that make it worth it but last night I got home with a heavy heart and barely slept. One can only imagine what Maria goes through for 365 days.

So,to my very own mother who has had to nurse me for all those hours  since my childhood (and they are not few) for the mothers who have had to withstand tough conditions with meagre resources to raise their children, those children who have become mothers before their time, those individuals who have come out great even without an actual mother by their side but most of all, for those mothers that have decided to take care of children whom they have no blood relation to, only linked by love and the goodness of their hearts, I salute you.

You make this world more beautiful just by being in it*

God bless you*

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Aside

Thank You

I just want to say Thank you father.

I don’t always have quiet time to reflect but even with a busy schedule, I acknowledge how blessed I have been.

You know me..with all my flaws and yet you still embrace me with open arms.

It amazes me and humbles me everyday. I do not say it often enough but this is just to say thank you Lord:-)

Very sweet.
I am tempted to hope for just that man!!

There are men out there who will respond to your text messages. Men who will initiate conversations because they simply can’t wait to see what you’ll say next. There are men who will never be too busy or too preoccupied to wish you good morning, regardless if you’re a country or a block away. Men who remember to call when they say they will – because they want to – and those who surprise you with their curiosity about your sometimes monotonous days. There are men who aim to be the last person you talk to before you sleep and the first name you see on your screen when you rise. Men who show up on time – or even early – men who are genuinely excited to see you.

There are men who want to go on dates. Real dates. Men who want to take you out to their favorite…

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Who am I to deserve all this?

THANKFUL– Why is this word highlighted? Well, I could give you several reasons but I will just share the most obvious one. We need to be more thankful.Period.

It is amazing how something so simple to do gets forgotten so easily. When we receive, we get excited, share the good news, sometimes say a prayer and that’s it but let’s look around.The reasons to be thankful are endless,endless I tell ya!

My focus today is my huge family at 40-40. We rarely have plenty, in fact most times we have just enough to get by..but the zeal and dedication with which every member works  and the goodness of friend’s hearts makes us seem like millionaires.

A few months ago I had a conversation with an acquaintance and it went something like this;

Him: Oh Esther, how is business?

Me: Huh? I have no business

Him: I mean 40 days over 40 smiles, you must be making a lot of  money.

Me: No, everything that we receive is spent on the children. It isn’t for personal gain so I am not.

Him: That is what Gary Skinner used to say. Look at him now, he travels the world in a private jet.

I laughed, scratch that forced a grin is more like it..then I walked off and wept silently in my heart so I could return as good as new. He wouldn’t understand, it was easier to let it go and wear my favourite poker face.

Almost eight months into our work with God’s grace orphanage, I have received my share of ridicule,loud whispers and plain negativity. Sometimes it bothers me but most times it is countered with genuine hearts and love that pours beyond that which I deserve. This makes it all the more easier to deal with.

I acknowledge that people who offer help do it for the children but I can’t help but wonder what I did to deserve the honour, to be trusted with this responsibility, to have strangers hand me their savings, and friends offer to back every decision we make in support of these children. It gets so overwhelming some times.*loud sigh*

This month has been full of miracles. See, we have no funding from any organisations and depend solely on individuals who offer to help. Some make promises they don’t keep and others make none but give abundantly. I am ESPECIALLY excited because some people had started ‘falling out’, not because they care any less but because life happens..So, in our eighth month, getting first time visitors or old friends still donating is something HUGE for the entire project and I:-) *JOY!*

My mobile money account currently has enough to feed the children for a couple of weeks and also pay some teachers but most of it was unexpected..actually all of it!

A few scenarios of the goodness of human beings in relation to this project-this month;

*Yesterday a friend I hadn’t spoken to in a while calls me and asks if I have a minute to spare off work. I agreed. We spoke for a couple of minutes at the Chillies restaurant close to my work place. He handed me an envelope that he said contained ‘porridge’ for the kids. I opened it as I went up the stairs. It contained 250,000 shillings worth of porridge! *Thankful!

*A gentleman offered to buy eggs once a week for the children.This is the second week and they are munching away at their nutritious eggs. He heard about us from a friend of a friend of a friend..I told you, reasons to be thankful!

*A girl I shared a class with whom I’d have called an acquaintance because of the few conversations we had called me up. She said she needed to send me money for the kids before wasting it on shoes or clothes. She sent me 150,000 shillings. I was elated.More food, I thought. Two days later she sent another 50,000.”I hope it will help.” I was too humbled.

*I sent money to the lead caretaker at the orphanage so she could buy drugs for a sick child over the weekend, or I thought I had. It turned out I’d sent it to a wrong number and did not even realise.

Me!

The gentleman called and asked why I had sent him money with the reason as ‘eyes.’ I explained. He sent it back, the entire amount.

* Lots of other friends have sent 5,10,20,40,000 and it isn’t the amount that counts. They are doing it out of their own free will because they want these children to have a chance at a better life.

I am extremely honoured to know such wonderful people and be part of a life changing experience but I still often sit and wonder, who am I?

THIS IS FOR YOU

This one is for the girl who can’t sleep at night because her father is coming late yet again with woman number five, six oops she lost count

It is for the single mother who raised her daughter but has only gotten insults and lies in return, tales she can’t recount-

This isn’t for the ‘perfect family’ that goes to Sunday brunch or spends their weekend in Zanzibar

It is for the ones who don’t know where their next meal will come from because daddy is always in the bar

For the girl who lost her youth to chores and fending for her younger siblings when she would really like a day off, okay maybe that’s too much. How about an hour or two just for her?

 

Here is one for the man whose father abandoned him as a child and still wants nothing to do with him many years later –

Today isn’t about the curvy confident girl who walks with an aura of splendour

It is for the one who is uncomfortable with her gender

Lesbian, bisexual, transgender-

 

That girl who often hears words like fat, plus size, overweight, weight loss, exercise, gym bla bla bla gosh, when does it all end? So I love juicy chicken, sue me.

But ooh, that isn’t all; the ‘small’ girl isn’t safe either. She is skinny, she is dieting, and she must be anorexic. Do you ever get clothes that actually fit, they ask. You must be spending all your time on fashion magazines, they add. Have they ever heard of genes? I guess not-

 

This one is for that boy who was bullied throughout school and thought the world would be more sympathetic

But all he has got is cruelty and the thoughts of suicide. Surely the world would be happier without him

It is for that girl who lost her self esteem as a child and is still waiting for it to somehow grow back. Mummy can you hear her? No, wrong selection, it is she that took it away in the first place.

It is for the boy who doesn’t belong

Who stands in the middle of a crowd and feels all alone

It is for the girl who wants to know God

But can’t take the first step

The one who tried to walk the path with Jesus

And had no one to hold her hand through it all

 

This one is for the wrongfully accused that still serve sentences

The individuals whose existence is questioned because of their resemblance- to this tribe, that terrorist group, no matter how unrelated-

It is for the virgin who was shunned by her partner

The repentant thief that was judged by an angry mob

 

The girl who was abandoned after her last abortion

Even if she did it to please the man she so dearly ‘loved’

The mother who held her baby for the first time and smiled

Blocking thoughts of the father that fled-

The girl whose little angel didn’t make it to her first birthday

The boy who only hears stories of birthday cake

 

It is for the broken hearted man who swears to stay alone forever

Because the love of his life said she would never leave but sort of meant;

I will never leave you, Mark, James, Earl and pretty much every guy that comes my way

It is for all the smiles you put on another’s face

Even as you weep profusely thinking about your life-

 

This one is for the hidden truths

The silent cries

The secret lives

The unspoken pain

The broken families

The poker faces

This one is for you…not the ‘you’ that the world sees but the ‘you’ who battles everyday;

The real..Y.O.U

Eggs, excitement! Who knew?

Even the most positive people have some bad days, weeks, even months..not necessarily because they are weak or ungrateful but because they are human.

I like to think of myself as quite positive but lately it has been a huge circle of thorns in form of different tests and I found myself caught in the middle..but never to give up. Shya! How??

A few weeks ago, gentleman met me God’s grace orphanage; I would rather call it ‘God’s grace children’s home’ actually.It was at one of our monthly breakfasts.

It was a couple of weeks ago but I remembered him vividly when he called days later. When I picked up the phone, he said ‘I doubt you remember me’ and I asked ‘Did we not talk about eggs? He laughed and said ‘That’s me.’  This gentleman’s name is Alex.

So, D-day a.k.a Egg day finally arrived. He asked when I was free and I told him I could only get off at lunch time. At exactly 1.00 pm, along with two of his friends, he picked me up.

The mission? To get a supplier who would take eggs to the children once a week.I chose Wednesday because it is mid week then later realised today was actually Wednesday(oh how time flies) I was so excited!Some children had already spotted us and came over to say hi.

It is always a new feeling. You know..like no matter how many rainbows you see, it will always be beautiful. That is exactly how I feel each time they run up to me chanting ‘Aunt Esther.’

After ‘sealing the deal’ with this supplier, we moved to the home.It was lunch time so all of them were free to give us hugs, except the ones who were eating..They just waved..We understood:)

Baby Faith who turns four months this October is such a sight to behold.I have never heard her let out so much as a sigh or cry no matter who carries her.She is so peaceful and yet the world has been so cruel to her mommy..She does not know this yet..and if we can help it. she will never have to feel lost.

The kids asked me for some of their favourite aunties, others asked when the breakfast is (27th October people, mark the date!) most just smiled and held my hands. I wanted to stay, I always do but we used our limited time any way.

I told Maria(the lead caretaker) about the eggs and she was ecstatic.She called all the children together and told them the good news.

When she asked which of them had never eaten eggs.I had to stiffle my emotions. Their little hands went up, seemingly embarassed that someone else was going to know this about them.We made light of the situation and they thanked Alex for this.

Shortly after, they all began praying for us..and it was crowned by ‘Pastor Emily’s prayer.

When this girl speaks to God, I believe even atheists shudder in their skin,so sincere, deep and from the heart. She asked God to bless my team and I..to give us health and wealth among other things..but mostly to bless us. I smiled. I wept inside. I believed.

As we left, little Esther asked me for the pen I promised her.Thank God I had carried one. She knelt to thank me.A pen, just a pen!! But you see, these children are extra ordinary.

When I went to visit the children, I had a heavy heart from the troubles of this world..When I left..I had a heavy heart knowing I could not spend every waking minute with these angels.

Maria told me all the things they need and I made a mental note. Alex asked “How do you sleep at night?” I just shrugged

What I should have said is ” I sleep feeling like the most blessed person in the world”

 

 

 

 

 

Of guilty pleasures and uhm..yes just that:D

So, a group of my friends decided the perfect birthday gift for me would be a spa treat. So why am I talking about this a month later? Well, uhm…you see…I was too busy for it, then also..just that, erm..Anyway, seeing as it had an expiry date on it..I had only until 18th of this month to do it.

So, while running a few errands today  I decided…why not use my lunch break for something just as worthy..?and voila…I jumped onto a boda boda to a place that shall from hereon be referred to as a piece of heaven..my oh my!!

Well, the ambience was out of this world and the ‘therapists’ are too polite.I almost thought it was a brain washing facility..It was too serene..too perfect.

I was shown to a seat and started looking through the prices in a booklet..Seeing as I had a gift voucher, I started to think of all the people I could do the same for..hence pulling out my phone to take a photo of the price list..ahem…An attendant politely told me it wasn’t allowed..Oh well, that was just before she told me about the complimentary drink-FORGIVEN!!

So, sweet Racheal started to mention, cocktail of carrot and something, lemon tea, I don’t know what extracts, water bla bla blah..I stopped listening and asked for the cocktail…It was lovely.

Now before I go any further with my rural excitement, I would like to categorically state that I have never done any such thing..No professional massage, steam bath, nothing so the thought of a lady having access to my body was erm…not that exciting..However, the idea of total relaxation, phone off(and locked in a cabinet upon their orders by the way) was quite thrilling.

First, the steam bath. I took one step into the room..felt like I would chock to death and then suddenly..the minty scent kicked in and I could have forgotten all this steam was clouding my vision.Before I knew it, I was humming away oblivious of the world around me…and it felt great!

So after every step, you take a shower and come back for more spoiling. I could live like this forever..No, seriously…I could!

On to the body scrub…How do I explain this? There were moments when I thought this magical creature(read masseuse) had no hands but rather just put me under a spell.Honestly, I couldn’t feel the fingers..just a whole lot of…magic! It was so expertly done, without trying too hand. The soft music in the background stole me countless times and I had to remind myself to come back to earth..Why?? Why??

Image

Hehe..Pretend she is black naawe:-)

At one point, Racheal held my foot and said ‘relax.’ Usually, I hate this word..In fact, whenever I am told to relax I do anything but relax..At that moment? Well, it could have meant chocolate or butter pancakes! I just did as I was told..and got rewarded:-)

I must confess, there were many moments when I thought, why am I letting this woman carry out this massage..Do I know her?Do I trust her..?but that’s the best part..It was a dimly lit room.She may never see me again..Okay I lied..I have to go back..but I shall ask for Joan or Anita or whoever..this violation can’t be done by the same person twice..Then again, she was sooo good at what she did.Maybe once more?Really? What is the worst that could happen..?

I pondered for a minute also..on the stories I have heard, about massage parlours that give ‘extra services’ to men.Imagine I am this smitten about a little spoiling..I wonder what other emotions these men go through..hmmm *scratches head*

I also thought to myself, when I get a husband, I shall bring him and make sure he learns all these techniques..hopefully better..hihi..kubanga it felt wrong to feel that fabulous.

Anyways, where was I?As if the body scrub and massage were not enough…there is a session of buttering. Really? Why doesn’t one just do this all day and return home to sleep instead of having work, traffic,wind,sun, clothes..everything???*Sigh

Well, all the products used had amazing scents..My body felt(still does, at least for now) extremely smooth.Those stories of how a baby’s butt is the softest thing ever..I am sorry babies and mommies worldwide, but I beg to differ:D

Bottom line(pun intended) it was such a lovely experience. I walked with an air of confidence thinking someone would notice and say “Oh you look different, did you get a facial’ *fail! No one did..but you know what? I was happy, for me..just me, just this once..In a different way;

1. To sort of lay off my insecurities for a bit(yes they even extend to closed rooms with strangers, smh) *Baby steps*

2.To finally have some time off, however short lived

3. To discover something new, experience it and probably offer this package to someone who deserves it:)

4.To celebrate my friends who thought of me and made this happen..I got my little piece of heaven, albeit a month later. Thank you!

*Shrieking with joy..Yes, even hours later..yaay!