Celebrating Super Women

8

Women’s day is here and I thought I would give a number of related stories about some of the women who have been on this journey from the beginning, from the middle and everywhere in between.

I got to know *Belinda in 2012 though I knew of her earlier because we shared a mutual friend. I was amazed by her energy, a woman of steel. She never shied away from tasks and always went the extra mile. Belinda doesn’t wait for praise or acclaim, she does what she can when she can. She became my right hand woman by default especially during the tough times at the beginning. I couldn’t have chosen a better partner. She is also a great ‘rant partner.’ Many times when things weren’t going well..we would sit and rant then leave refreshed..like it was a therapy session.

Rachel* is a darling to children and I am not saying it has anything to do with her bossom😝
There is no one I have encountered who has overcome their terrible past experiences by spreading love over bitterness or vengeance like she has. Sadly, she didn’t have the priveledge of having her parents on this earth for long enough (bless their souls) but fish has she kept their love alive through her huge heart.

Vivian* was in my life at a distance long before she joined the team and when she came, the rest was history. She took on responsibilities even when she had several other commitments and delivered with zeal. She has a creative mind and it helps that she believes even in the impossible. Whenever I am away, she fills in for more in every way possible.
Her energy is infectious but don’t mess with her or those she loves, she WILL bite.

Christine* also came into my life through mutual friends. She quickly warmed up to our activities and put in the work. She is such an awesome 4040 ambassador to the extent that if ever she was fired, it would be because of the time and energy she puts into our work behind the scenes. The company she works for has sponsored us before thanks to her connection, many would shy away from mixing their work with uhm..other work.

Vivian and Christine were both extremely handy during my time as an M.A student. This is a story I will properly tell another day..but they saved me so much money in printing fees. They have often crossed the line sacrificing for 4040 visa vis their jobs which scares me and I don’t take it for granted.

Faith* has been a friend since we were pre-teen girls and I can only say she gets finer with age, just like wine.
Her heart is in the right place at all times. She is quite reserved and you can tell her your life story without even knowing her middle name but her generosity knows no bounds. She has involved her family and (former) work place in our work. She has volunteered at events and when she can’t give time, she sacrifices financially over and beyond.

Tina* is bowl of fun and a free spirit. She also is the kind of girl whom you tell ‘let’s go’ and she asks when..as opposed to where. She will later remember to pack her bags. She worked upcountry for a while and still made the time to attend events, work and even catch a bus back the same day. Even when isn’t around, I meet her friends who attend our outreaches and let me know they are representing her.

Janice* is just the same. She has literally been posted from one district to a further district. Still, she will show up whenever she is expected. Her family has gotten involved and I mean beyond the ‘nuclear’ family. They helped consume most of our remaining beer at an event last year after their team lost😊

Linda* was there from the beginning and her family got looped in in stages, including one of her elder sisters who was among the first people to contribute, and generously too back during those 40 days in 2012. She also involved her (former) colleagues in a drive to #BuyABrick and goodness did they give generously!
Linda has a sound mind and often pulled me up when my legs began to shake back in the day. She has been a great cheerleader and sounding board. She initiated a program that Nina now runs, whose potential is limitless.

Nina* is a radiant fireball. You can be fooled by her silence but when she speaks, it is with purpose. She is hilarious too, you just need to stick around to know her. She broke her leg and went out of work for a while. It was a tough time. She decided to use that time to work for 4040. I couldn’t afford her even if I tried. When she later joined a firm with a somewhat flexible schedule, she still have plenty of time to develop a program that had stalled because of the absence of a full time coordinator. It is currently out flagship program.

Peace* is a calm spirit whose kindness and compassion is enviable. She also got on board from the beginning and was especially close to the children at the orphanage we first worked with. She is constantly hounding ‘her people’s when we have campaigns and many have supported no matter where they are. She is one of our ‘drink-selling-gurus.’ If you have been to our events, you know this is no easy feat. May Golola one day come and save us.

Matilda* ‘tomunyigila mu tooke’ (aka no-nonsense woman) She is unafraid to speak her mind and is as loyal as they come. While she works and lives way out of town, she is a regular at our weekly meetings. She is also always linking people up with 4040 and giving of her time. She works weekends but whenever we have weekend events, she heads to the venue right after work.
She is also another guru when it comes to selling drinks

Nadine* has been in my life and part of the team for less than 3 years but no one would be able to tell. From her hard work and dedication, it feels like she has been there since inception. This hot mama of 4 is a doer. She doesn’t like excuses and walks her talk. She has shown me a good example of how possible it is to be a great wife,mother,career woman and still have time for your passions and party like a rock star while at it. ‘Unfortunately,’ this also means I find myself sub-consciously comparing most people to her when they slack. I have to remind myself that we are all different.
One of her mantras “You don’t have to like someone to work with them” often came in handy when little disagreements threatened to affect the quality of our work.

Prudence* and I come from way back, primary school to be exact. She was in a lower class. High school brought us together again and 4040 made us closer.
When we asked for time, she gave it, resources, she offered, a car to run errands, she availed. Generally, whatever is in her power, she will do. Her family supports us even when they’re in the diaspora. Her brother even became an expert ‘shirt folder’ under our watch though university has borrowed him for a bit. You can hear Prudence’s laugh all the way in Madagascar and her love runs just as deep.

Irene* always says her first reaction to of the 4040 group was “Why is this chic (that would be me) adding me?” The rest, as they say, is history. She has given of her time for the communication bits, for events and being a ‘middle man’ when we need favour from her bosses.
I vividly remember one Christmas season when we were struggling to raise money for the children’s Christmas gifts. She suggested restaurant that we could use as a drop off point, went ahead to speak to the owner and even find a piggie bank (box) all on her own. That is the colour of initiative.

Allen* is a silent volcano waiting to erupt.
She is also the one you run to when you need someone to help you hate on person X who is frustrating you.😂 One of her standard responses is “I always knew that bigger was shady.” Smh.
Did I mention she got into a fight with David Obua when he refused pay entrance at 5 aside and forcefully got in? “Good times!”
All her jobs have pretty much consumed her but she is there when she can. She was our afande link for a long time, often doing the rounds at Police stations, getting us permission before events.

Lisa* is a classic case of a friend of my friend who is now my friend. Confused yet? She is happy to lucky and was quite active before she took on some parenting roles. Nonetheless, she still gets her tropps together to support our campaigns and has involved the company she works for, in our work.

Angel our (now) summer/winter rep was ‘borrowed’ from us but we can’t wait till she returns to pothole central with all the knowledge and skills she has acquired as part of her M.A. Angel worked with us for a short time but her presence was felt. I will tell you a story of how she rode with one of Uganda’s most popular musicians out of town so they could discuss how to get us Maddox and when her phone for off..we were sure she has been kidnapped. Smh.
Angel is always looking for ways in which we can do better and best of all, we pray together.

Hope has been in my life for a while through mutual friends. She was always sharing info about our events and showing up to participate. 4040 has a subscription platform where you can make a monthly contribution. When Vivian sent her a message to remind her about her contribution last year, Hope was abroad. She said she would send it. She eventually did. She sent Ugx 1 million! We had had a series of events that consumed our savings and had been clueless. I cried for most of that night and failed to share half of what I wanted to say when we spoke.
Recently she returned home and told me she had some time to spare for 4040. Naturally I welcome this news with enthusiasm. She has already handled her first duty excellently and we can only hope (get it, hope? Not working? Okay..moving on)
What was I saying? We can only hope it gets better.

This is longer than I thought (as usual) The list could also be much longer but let me stop here.

To you beautiful women I say, thank you.
You have been my rocks, my prayer warriors, my supporters, my shields, my sources of comfort, laughter, light and love.
I can barely articulate everything that I wish I could say to you. I hope to give you all that you have given me and then some.
I love you so

 

 

 

I celebrate you today and always.

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Falling in love

6

It was love at first sight that hot afternoon when I used my lunch break to visit the children’s home in Kyebando for the first time.

I had started a Facebook group, shared a plan and invited friends to spend their 40 days giving but I didn’t even know the recipients.
That afternoon, within seconds of arrival. I knew.
I received more hugs than I could count. I was surrounded by smiles. I felt love.
I encountered God.

Before long, I was back to visit and graduated from a stranger to aunt, to mummy. I was in love.
Imagine my utter joy when I got to share this love with my friends and realising that many felt it too.
These children soon became family.
I can just see them as I type this; Bashir, the most beautiful boy you ever did see, who needed surgery at some point and the Doctor agreed to do it an no cost except for anesthesia and paying the nurses-this 200,000 was collected in one ‘facebook group chat’ session long before we had whatsapp ;Daisy the diva who knew how to use her adorable face to get what she wanted, oh Esther who became my BFF when she found out we were namesakes. Once I found her wearing a tee and realised it was one that I owned before it found a new home. When I told her it used to be mine, she registered this fact in her little brain. Four out of five times we visited, she was wearing it. I asked her to change into other clothes but she would not budge.
And how can I forget Ronald who loved to drum. When it was dance time, his heart smiled. He gave the caretakers some trouble, as he sought to be understood, like we all do. Eventually he found a loving home and I couldn’t be happier.
We met so many more beautiful souls and slowly they found family within the team and vice versa.
This relationship had its tough times, like any other and while many were out of my control, I feel eternally blessed because of the miracles that came alive from these bonds.
I received some practice for motherhood too😉
There is so much that I cannot put to words (and believe me, I have often tried) and yet everything learnt, what I felt, what I feel, it will always stay with me.

Footprints

For the first time in 4 years, I shall not be able to celebrate Easter in the 40-40 way. For a few minutes, that is the only line I actually could write in this post but I shall try to continue.

When you think about it, it seems pretty childish that missing out on a few hours playing, eating, laughing and dancing can tag at one’s heart so bad, and yet here I am, asking myself many questions. Did they reach safe? Did ‘new people’ join us this time? Will the children have fun? Will they remember this day years from now? I spent the most part of my morning looking at old photos and watching videos with deep sighs. I know later, when the photos from the do start pouring in, I will contemplate flushing my phone down the toilet. (Thankfully, it has been giving me trouble so we shall pretend I was just putting it to rest) Where did all the time go?

For 4 years, the Easter weekend has been transformed into our living, breathing definition of Christ’s love. Out of design, his design, we were led to a mission, a mission to make his children’s lives better. It was indeed Jesus who said, the kingdom of God belongs to the little children. Their presence is blessing enough, but that we are able to make a small difference is a huge plus:

For the first time, in years, I saw many adults in one place sob silently in a gathering that was not a funeral. For the first time, I saw men who had sworn they did not want anything to do with children, run around, get dirty, make funny faces and act even more child-like than the kids themselves. For the very first time, many of us took a step out of our ‘comfortable’ lives, away from family and friends whom we are ‘conditioned’ to love and shared our hearts with new families that we hitherto did not even know. For the first time, Jesus’ death and resurrection was more than just a story, more than a tale which belongs in church or the Bible. It was 40 meaningful days culminating in the greatest of all gifts, love.

That was the Easter weekend of 2012 and we have not stopped since.

If there is a week(end) when I contemplate life and my journey now and the future, it is definitely this one. Even the readings in church, conversations and last thoughts before I go to sleep, change. I am constantly aware of what this season represents for not just me, but the 40-40 family in all its breadth; our choices, our paths, our footprints.

FOOT

 

4 years ago, 40 days brought together people who may not otherwise have met; 4 years later, we do not only have ‘over 40 smiles,’ we have what seems like a lifetime of beautiful memories.

Today, of all days, I celebrate everyone who has kept us going, in your respective ways. You would be surprised how even a simple text message to say “thank you for making the children smile” gives us a little more strength to hold on. The amazing team that holds the fort daily, the volunteers who come in when they can, each and everyone of you who supports with a word of encouragement, or those trips to the mobile money agent :P, the family we have grown which prays for us, our ambassadors all over the world,everybarrreeee, THANK YOU!

It is a great honour to be part of a group of passionate, dynamic people who genuinely believe they can impact the world positively and go a step further to actually do it.

The glory goes back to God who has been with us every step of the way, who has watched us fall so he can pick us up, let us cry and assured us righteous tears are never in vain. He started this work and it is evident that he will continue to see it to his fruition. Truly thankful that through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we got an opportunity to do more. While our sacrifice is nowhere near grand, HE who inspired it, sacrificed enough for each of us, for all eternity.

May you remember and meditate on Jesus’ love this Easter.

jesus

A glorious Easter to you and yours.

Xx

Blueberry cupcake

It is one of those weekends that doesn’t seem like one. It is quiet and the air is heavy. Today’s weather is actually not bad, Linda took a walk without a shawl, gloves or hat and it was okay. Still, something just doesn’t feel right.

It’s been like this since Wednesday evening. After a fascinating lecture led by a charismatic woman, Linda was surprised to get to her residence with a sudden wave of gloom. What had changed?

Do you ever get that feeling like something bad is about to happen and you don’t know what it is but the pressure is so strong? That’s what she felt. She thought it could have been because elections were the next day back in Uganda, but she could not confirm it. Instead, she prayed and went to bed earlier than usual.

She started to regret her decision to get off social media as the days went by, she needed to know what was going on. Linda had gone to church at the beginning of lent after she resolved to get onto social media only once a week. She’d thought she would check on a day with no activity, preferably a weekend to make her intention more ‘valid.’ However, something happened that she just couldn’t explain.  By the time she got home, the new plan was to go all out. As election week began, the urge grew stronger. It did not help that her classmates were making reference to different online activity. Her class even had references on twitter but she chose to stick to her decision, despite the temptation.

Yesterday’s class introduced the concept of posthumanism that was interlinked with human’s co-existence with technology. Some students admitted they could not live without their phones or social media and she could only grin, she still had over a month to go.  Since she had began this phase, her journal got more pages filled and the mind worked in overtime.  After realising one of the things she missed the most was Humans of New York,’ it hit her, albeit late, that besides just facebook, there was a website she could follow! That would be a good distraction from all the worry she was desperately trying to fight.

You know what else helps? Cake! After a few errands this morning, Linda chanced upon a cupcake stall. There were at least 50 flavours to choose from. That should be a good thing, except she simply stood helplessly unable to make up her mind. Finally, she settled for a blueberry cupcake. Unlike most Londoners who have no qualms about walking while eating, anywhere and everywhere, she saved her treat for when she got back to the room.

A cup of caramel flavoured tea was poured and then it was time to devour the cupcake. It is true what they say about good things coming in the smallest packages because Linda’s only trouble with it was that it ‘disappeared’ too fast.

bluebery cup cake

Perhaps, like Linda, you are in some sort of turmoil, mind, body or soul, maybe even, all the above. Find a little something to do just for you or someone else. If it is the only smile that you can afford, that’s better than none at all.