Tomorrow’s leaders

31

Originally posted on Friday, 31st March.
‘Real time story (stories?)’

Today we had the last Angaza (literacy program) session of the term..
Before heading over to the school we work with, I had a meeting with an Education consultant who has decades of experience. She is quite intelligent and exposed and yet she has the unique ability to make you feel like she is learning from you; all the while being warm and humourous.
Do you also get that feeling when you meet someone and wish you met them way earlier in life? She makes me feel that way. We spoke about a wide range of topics. I told her I was considering doing training to become an educator. Guess what, she mentioned a school that is coming up and is willing to recruit professionals in different fields and then train them. (Is this you? Get in touch) I have always thought teachers have a huge impact on our lives (bad or good) and perhaps I can get a chance to impact young minds. This is an exciting prospect and even if it doesn’t materialise now, I know its time will come and I will look back like ‘remember when this was only a mere thought?’

Well, when we got to Merowa Primary School,the energy was crazy. I was wondering ‘who can be this energised at 2:30pm on a hot Friday afternoon?’ Well the children were.
We had different professionals speaking to the children about art, medicine,journalism,photography, law and entrepreneurship. Unfortunately, our policeman speaker got stuck in traffic and couldn’t make it. I must confess, I was excited about the children’s potential excitement when he took them through drills and such. I hope I shall be present for when he can make it.

The children were excitable. Grace even had them do a mock presentation of News during her journalism talk and it was awesome!
It was amazing to note that some of the children came out of their shells even if they were sometimes withdrawn during our sessions.
Another outstanding moment for me was when I met volunteers who had no idea who I was. Most of them had joined weeks after orientation and thus we had not met before.
Sharon’s jaw dropped as she asked a volunteer, *Ali “You mean you don’t know the founder?” He was so unruffled and went on to explain that he had volunteered twice at the school and never seen ‘Esther’ there. He was right!
My smile was so big while Sharon stared at me in shock. After he walked off we discussed this encounter. Frankly, I was really glad. Most of the volunteers had responded to a call we made but Ali didn’t. He found out about quiz night but failed to make it so when he saw a tweet about our sessions, he made his way. Not because he knew anyone, not because of FOMO but because he genuinely wanted to impact children’s lives. This is what it is about.
That is what I have always dreamt of, that 4040 will get wings and fly so far that it is no longer attributed; for us to have a network of change agents anywhere and everywhere,who are driven by purpose and social impact; for young people(especially) to be motivated to do more for their communities not because they are called to, but because there is need. Period.

Ali is pursuing a medical degree at Makerere University and spoke passionately during his presentation, about dreams,freedom to change/tweak them and the need to be unapologetic about who you are.
I was engulfed by too many feels.

As if that wasn’t enough, when i walked out of class, one of the nursery school teachers, *Anne, opened up to me.
She explained that as a struggling single mother she couldn’t even give her children the education provided by this school. Her children are under the care of her mother in Pallisa. When I asked about the children’s father, she broke down into tears. How to give her a hug when the little children were pulling at my sleeves and craving attention😦
Anne told me that she got into teaching because her parents could no longer afford her school fees after S.4 and a nursery teaching course was the most her sponsor could fund.
Perhaps if she had had career guidance and the support of people like our volunteers, she could have pursued her dreams.

I left in reflective mode with some mixed feelings,and an incredibly FULL heart.
March has been unkind in many ways but it certainly had a worthwhile ending.

Here is wishing you a productive, peaceful and meaningful April. May you have the strength to hold on even when you feel like giving up..and may it all be worth it, even if it comes out packaged differently from what you imagined.

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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

Not-so-terrible twos

Dear Penda,

You turn two today! How awesome is that? 😀 My excitement is quite unhealthy but don’t you worry, I am going to try and keep it under control (or not).

Apparently this is the age when you start saying ‘No’ a lot and struggle with your desire for independence. Are we ready? :O Before we can start to worry about all of that, all I am concerned about right now is the precious gift that is you 🙂

Your name is a beautiful representation of who you are. You are love and you are light. What more could we possibly ask for? Sometime last year, we were hanging out together, along with aunt Ritah and aunt Doreen (you have like 671 others of these, and uncles too) on a sunny day. You could hardly say a word but your presence was completely enthralling. I marveled at God’s goodness, that he would package so much beauty and personality in one little being who was completely oblivious of the joy that she brought to us. That week had been long but when you danced on the table (not like that, I was holding you as you jumped about) and we sang ‘twinkle little star,’ everything was perfect, if only for a moment. There have been many such moments since, your smile and laughter should really be considered as ammunition against terrorists. They would probably surrender and dedicate their lives to spreading love. (Don’t you wish life was that simple?)

You are a special gift to us, you know? We just can’t help but gush over you. I hope you will get used to it because it is not about to stop. I remember your last birthday like it was yesterday. Your mommy went out of her way to put up a real bash for you and boy were you adorable! Do you remember? If you don’t, I will have you know that you enjoyed yourself and looked like a princess.
Your grannies were there too, there was plenty of laughter and good vibes. We had a session to write you little notes for your teen years and you can guess who wanted a ream of paper when all they had was a sticky note (smh) It was such a wonderful day, as we celebrated you and your little precious life.
P.s: If ever we delay to pay your school fees, this is the disclaimer in advance. Remain comforted in the thought that those shillings were well spent on the birthday of the year;2015 😛

The other day, mommy sent me a picture. You were probably 5 days or so and I was holding you in one arm and pointing to the camera with the other. You were sooooo tiny! Nonetheless, your gaze was still focused and as it turns out, you are quite the photogenic little lady now.. I wonder where you got that from. *side eyes Kemigisha*

Your pictures, videos and best of all spending time in your presence just makes me smile for days!Your character is steadily developing and I look forward to the years when we shall hear you speak everything that is on your mind and watch you grow into the phenomenal woman I know you shall be. You make mommy proud, you make us all proud.

 

Ballerina Minion character cake

Happy birthday our little beautiful star,Estella. You make life better just by being in it.

Much love and lots of prayers now and for the years to come ❤

Your Godmommy.

Xoxo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Home is where the heart is

Do you really know what your brother/sister/uncle/aunt (insert other relatives) does for kyeyo in ‘outside countries?’

Have you ever asked or are you content with simply receiving the fashionable clothes and turning to them each time money is ‘scarce?’ I have always had great admiration for people who leave their home country and start a completely new life with meagre  resources. I am even more awed by their resilience, accepting that despite being away from their loved ones for a long periods of time, they shall be in better position to provide for them. It is a difficult decision to reach given what you have to sacrifice. Lately, I have heard many stories of people in these situations and while I feel like I’d find it difficult to ‘survive,’ I also know that desperate situations call for desperate measures. Sometimes. you just have to learn on the job.

Linda will soon mark two months since she left home. Everything has changed. Everything has remained the same. She has experienced all the ways life can humble one and learnt how to deal with the agony that distance can sometimes turn into. Birthday parties have been ‘attended’ on skype and whatsapp, new jobs and promotions have been celebrated with an array of emoticonsshe has only been able to commiserate over the phone with loved ones who are mourning and in a couple of weeks shall miss a wedding where she was meant to be a maid of honour. She will not be able to hold Juliet’s hand as her momma undergoes surgery next week and there are many more moments that will sail by as she watches on, helpless. An  ‘adulting manual’ would probably have a chapter on this. Any writers ready to embark on this project?

While being away from everything one knows and loves can be difficult, it also presents so many opportunities. Linda decided to create new moments. On Tuesday night, at exactly midnight,her skype showed it was Jacob’s birthday exactly midnight. She made a mental note to talk to the other scholars about doing something to celebrate the day. The next day, while at the library, when she mentioned it to Milly, she found out the day before had been Norah’s birthday too. The more the merrier, she thought. She only had a few hours to plan a small do. The easiest, most practical thing would be to purchase a cake and have them cut it. When she mentioned it to Nadia, she was quite astounded by the response. “There are cakes at the supermarket at 2 pounds, which can be heated in the microwave then shared.” Quick calculation, approximately Ugx 10,000, for a birthday cake? Linda thought out loud before she could catch herself, “I’d definitely not want a microwave cake on my birthday so I shall not buy one.”  Nadia quickly remarked that if she wanted expensive things it was up to her. Linda had already decided she would not ask any of the group members to contribute as it’d prolong the simple process but this moment reaffirmed her resolve. She found a restaurant and luckily they had a chocolate cake that already had the words ‘Happy birthday.’ She had about 4 hours to get everyone together and ensure they kept the little secret. As you can guess, it was dramatic. If it is difficult to get friends together, imagine how much harder it is for near strangers. From people showing up late, to the the ‘guests of honour‘ failing to fall for the lies while everyone hid in a dark room waiting to scream ‘surprise!’ It was a pretty funny experience. Eventually it worked. Jacob and Norah couldn’t have been more clueless! Vanessa carried some drinks and it all made for a nice little treat.

Owing to the fact that there is a difficult, yet important assignment that they all have to hand in soon, there was a shadow over everyone’s head. Sadly, this shadow was spoken about for longer than Linda would have liked. During the toast, Lillian mentioned the assignment more times than celebrating life or happiness which were essentially the ingredients for the little do in the first place. Linda decided it was probably her who was ‘unserious’ enough to put this time out above all else. Nonetheless, everyone was quite pleased as they had not met in one place since their first week in London. Before long, they were asking Linda to organise more meet ups and tours for the whole group. She laughed at herself later that night when she reflected upon the habits she had carried with her all the way to her ‘current home.’

home-is-where-the-heart-is

While Norah and Jacob were elated and couldn’t stop thanking her for the surprise , Linda knew her own joy was up there with theirs.

 

Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance!

I woke up this morning and this is all I could think of. “Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance!’

I quickly sent a text to my friend Ritah and asked her to send me the song ‘Shackles-Mary Mary’ because she is my song bank.. and she did!

I replayed it and it was clear that the lyrics spoke to me just the way I wanted them to.

In the corners of mind
I just can’t seem to find a reason to believe
That I can break free
‘Cause you see I have been down for so long

Feel like the hope is gone
But as I lift my hands, I understand
That I should praise You through my circumstance

Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance
I just wanna praise You
I just wanna praise You

You broke the chains, now I can lift my hands
And I’m gonna praise You
I’m gonna praise You

I have been immobile for seven days, which is a lot for anyone but even more disturbing for a victim of OCD like yours truly.

I have my days, weeks, months planned out but it is true what they say, time certainly doesn’t wait for anyone.

I slowly looked at everything urgent, important, urgent and important and the not so important ones and kept telling myself the next day would be better. When I noticed the universe wasn’t in agreement. I slowly cancelled everything and only maintained the weekend rendezvous’ which I sadly had to miss too.
Last night I received the image of a cake for a do I had helped put together and I could almost hear my tummy yell. ‘Let’s go get that!!’ but well, that didn’t happen.

Having four walls  closing you in can be disturbing. You think of the most random things. I tried not to look at the time, keep offline mostly and away from phone calls under the pretext of bed rest. That meant that I had to use my brain for other things EXCEPT self pity. Not the easiest thing to do under those conditions but well, you fake it till you make it.

And then the 7 days blogging challenge happened! I wished I could take part but I sort of did, as an admirer and appreciator, right? I waited for that hour of the night when sleep would elude me and then I began to follow link after link, read one blog post after another, grinning,frowning,smiling.Name it. It was exciting, not in a ‘I want to scream’ type of way but more like I could-get-used-to this. Could it be that God timed this just for me? To slow down a little and take in everything else that life is about? Good reads, silent meditation and everything in between?

I lay in bed and read every article in the dailies like a curious tourist in a foreign land. I got round to reading some magazines full of celebrity gossip that the mother had got me a while back which I never had time for. They can have a lot of rubbish but a dream outfit here and a holiday destination there never hurt anyone. Oh! some eye candy too. Wait, perhaps I enjoyed this a little too much.

time 1

Whereas I didn’t intend to take time off, and it wasn’t the most painless affair either-I did get time to think about a lot of things.

I even learnt a new word that I have failed fix somewhere in this blog. Wait, now I can’t even remember it :/

Sure I missed some days that I can never recover and I am behind schedule on a few things but hey- there is always a bright side 🙂

There’s no advantage to hurrying through life

So, if the universe doesn’t force you to take time off, like me, you better grab every opportunity you can to stop and actually smell the roses (literally and figuratively)

In the meantime, I shall be getting these shackles off so I can- DANCE!!

xx