Yesterday we visited some children’s homes, as part of our ground work to establish which ones have the most needs or are best suited to the kind of support that we offer. There were lessons to learn from several and it was especially pleasing to note that we have now learnt which questions to ask, how to be objective and carry out due diligence among other things.
I remember our first project two years ago was driven by 1% by a whim and 99% by emotions. We surely have grown.
Our main focus as we did this tour was the need for sustainability. This means that even though we know one of the homes we visited has children who survive on one a meal a day; we shall not rush to a retail shop, fill a truck with maize flour and carry it to the house. Instead, we shall give the caretakers capacity to purchase these supplies and allow them the pride that comes with knowing that their hard work paid off.
It was amazing to see some children already actively involved in economic activities. For one of the homes, the crafts are actually sold by the children to raise school fees directly. If their school fees is 150,000, they know that they have to make that much if they are to see a blackboard the next term, which makes them that much more determined. Is it fair for a 12 year old boy to trek under the scotching sun to get an education? No. Will you back that ‘No’ with a better solution? (….) Are we going to find ways to make the situation better while promoting his skill and nurturing his work ethic? Heck yes!!
I was particularly astonished to see that despite the limited space at one of these homes, they had make shift reading tables for the children, especially those sitting for finals this year.
One of the boys, David has a profile that reads “I want to become a lawyer, so that I can become a politician then a president and change my country.” Enough said.
An elderly woman who looks after several women said she would love to cook a few snacks for sell to earn an extra income. Little things like samosas, fried cassava, mandazi etc. A moment later she changed her mind. She explained how complex it would be. “How do I continue frying when one of my children is staring at me with hunger written all over his face? Of course I will give him one and that won’t be enough so he will want another. The cycle continues.” She said as we shared a light moment laden with words unspoken. She looks after vulnerable children n her own house.
How heartbreaking it was as we left when she asked us to keep checking in. “I lost my son five months ago just before he graduated from Makerere, she said as she motioned towards a photograph of him.
“When I see young people like you I am reminded of him and I don’t feel lonely anymore,” she added with a sad smile.
Some moments stay with you forever.
Policy is important but how do you explain to an individual who has raised so many children at hear home that it is illegal to have that many under that roof? While we are still responding to that, let us put into consideration the fact that there would probably not be any place to take them if they were moved because only a handful of state-run children’s homes exist and not without their own shortcomings.
This isn’t one of those posts where I will suddenly request that the president intervenes. But then again,even if I did, he is quite busy opening taps and all.
The truth is that we (40-40) are not experts but I would rather passionate amateurs than lazy specialists.
About a year ago a pre-teenage boy thanked me for convincing him to stay off the street. I have no psychology major. Are you still going to blame your lack of action on absence of skill? I dare you.
I may not have 20,000 in my purse but as a team, we at 40-40 have raised over 100 million shillings to support vulnerable children.
I know that a Government official can steal this in a day and a corporate company signs such cheques in minutes but this is no competition.
I have seen the sweat, tears and sleepless nights that have led to this moment when I can talk about such a sum.
I have seen sacrifice redefined by individuals who have nothing to their name.
This post is not about what could have been, it is about what is and will be.
It s about what you can do in your own capacity visa vis what you can promise to do all your life.
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
If a 40-40 volunteer who doesn’t even have a first degree can sit through a meeting and come up with brilliant ideas but more so implementation strategies, what excuse do our Members of Parliament have?
You have an i pad that you use mainly for solitaire, a chauffeur for your 4 wheel drive that has seen more lodge parking lots than it has your garage at home but pupils in your constituency still walk barefooted for several kilometres on dirt roads to get some sorry excuse of an education they may never utilise.
Toddlers in your community still die from diseases that can be immunised and midwives use torches during child delivery, but this is normal,right?
So we sit and say “I will never vote, nothing ever changes.” Or “I voted and elections were rigged so my candidate lost.” Nothing is ever your fault and you are okay with that.
We all have our rights, we can choose to or not to exercise them but your greatest right should be your right to do right.
No education, Government or self help book can teach you do this.
“It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.” Ghandi
Amidst all this bent up frustration lies a message about a group of people that knows they can’t solve every problem but decided to start small and work their way up. I am proud to be part of this group.
We work with children, perhaps you are most disturbed by the environment and the fact that we barely recycle. How about you do something about that?
But when it comes to us;
Here I am saying that if you had a rough childhood, you can still be part of making a better one for someone who deserves a second chance.
If you had good one, allow another child to get a glimpse of what you had.
The supporters and well wishers of 40-40 have trusted us and I am asking them to trust us again because we are in this for the long haul.
If you still have your doubts, we understand you, join us to visit these children and see what we mean.
When we promise, demand delivery, if we slack, ask why.
The only person responsible for making a difference in your life, your community is you. The sooner we acknowledge this, the faster we can create the Uganda and eventually the world we want to see.