According to scripture, number 7 is the number of completeness. If I go by its significance, I must confess that the one thing we are not, is complete. It is unlikely that we will be by the end of this year. What we are though, is a constant work in progress.
Every year, we celebrate Easter with the children. I always reminisce about that first time, when we all gathered in Kyebando. I close my eyes and I can picture a moment that will always stand out for me. My friends from different stages of life, Primary School to the work place, all in one space. As soon as we parked and got out of the cars, we were enveloped in tight hugs from sooo many happy children. I looked around me and tears were rolling down my friends’ cheeks while others were being held in with all the possible might. It was the start of a life changing weekend and journey.
This year, I thought we should commemorate our 7th year milestone by celebrating the people who have worked tirelessly to keep 4040 going; the unsung heroes who sacrifice so much and do not get to be celebrated often, my amazing team.
Some have been there throughout and others joined us just a few months ago; together, they create magic. If there were no limitations, it would be an actual kivulu with every single person who has made us who we are, to date. I mean, we would need to occupy Namboole stadium but that shouldn’t be too hard. One day, I hope we can.
I thought I would do a 7 recap of the years but instead, let me focus on provision in the past months as well as survival against the odds.
This year, in particular has been one of financial turmoil. I stopped praying for access to funds and started praying for a miracle or 8. These miracles, often in form of amazing human beings have sustained us. We’d been following up on a donation since the last quarter of 2018 and it always seemed like we were about to receive it when something went wrong. If received, it would sustain us for a bit as we knocked on doors and remodelled our strategy. Every delay meant digging deeper and deeper into the reserve until it was dry. What next?
Somehow, people continued to (unknowingly) come to our rescue. ‘Laura’ whom I’d never met reached out about making a contribution in January. We shared bank details. A couple of days later, she wired $390. I actually wept and immediately sent her a long audio message. In her reply she said “I really had a strong urge to give to 4040 this month and for some reason it stuck. I am really happy that it was an answer to a prayer.”
She opened the door for other people.
A few weeks later we hosted a graduation party for our interns where we had amazing décor set up at no cost, same for the cake, entertainment along with subsidised meals. It was all quite surreal. I think it turned out better than it would have if we had actually paid top dollar (shilling?)
Remember the potential donation from 2018? It finally came through and we survived February by a whisker. Each time rock bottom was drawing nearer, a message came through.
A few friends in the diaspora also contributed to our programs including *Peace who celebrated her birthday by gifting 4040. Does it sound like hand to mouth to you? It is because it really is. By the time we had our first fundraiser of the year, I was exasperated. Every disappointment felt 321 times worse because I knew what was at stake. Luckily, we survived despite all the hitches.
We were blessed with several great partners, an amazing turn out and raised enough to keep afloat as we follow other avenues to get us out of the red.
In the same period, so many other parts of my work and life were seemingly falling apart. There were days when the body listened to the mind and soul and decided to crash and week after week of limbo. I started by cutting out public appearances, interviews and gatherings of more than two. I forced myself when I felt that my presence would make a distinct difference. There are several times I scheduled and rescheduled meetings until I just asked the concerned parties to await my communication when I was ready.
Before long, 2 was also too big a number. I was happy to do as much as I could remotely but face to face interactions were too much work. Phone call anxiety intensified and I craved alone time, all the time.
I was privileged to be in position to take time off, figure things out and heal at my pace.
While there is a still a great deal to overcome, I am proud of the progress thus far.
What doesn’t kill you might not always make you stronger. Sometimes, it makes you more aware, it teaches you, it opens your eyes to the signs and perhaps the next time you will still break, maybe even worse than the first time but if your lucky, you will be reminded that at least, you beat it once before.
As we near Easter and celebrate 7 years, I meditate upon our mortality, not from a point of agony, but as a reminder of who and what is important for those of us still privileged to have life.
Happy Easter to you and yours (or happy 4 day weekend depending on your beliefs).
I celebrate you, especially, if you are reading this and have been part of this journey in some way. My support system, I adore you.
We are no longer babies or toddlers, just growing through our pains to try and create change.
This milestone got me writing again, cheers to many more.
P.S: Happy 7th 4040, you are worth it all.