Everywhere you go

If the first thing you think about is a certain telecom network, when you read that phrase. Stop

Okay, now let’s continue.

Over the past few years, I have found myself, living and breathing 4040. Sometimes, it becomes so natural, I do not realise when I am going on and on.

A few days ago, there was no internet connection in my room and I needed to work. I headed straight to the reception and started typing away. One of the supervisors sat next to me and asked ‘What is 40-40?” I was a bit surprised but quickly noticed what had brought out the question. My ‘I am 4040’ sticker sat proudly on the laptop. He has since called out “Miss 4040” each time we have bumped into each other. Re-baptising in progress.

This reminds of a night many months ago, when I was out with friends. At about 1 a.m when the music was at boiling point and the sugar height had escalated, I felt someone tapping my shoulder. I recognised him when I turned around. He was a common face at our fundraisers. With a straight face, he asked, “Is this a 40-40 fundraiser too? How come I didn’t know?” I looked around and noticed my ‘dancing troupe’ was made up 4040 team members, which might have been why he was asking. I laughed out loud. Really (read Riyalle) we shall not even paka kini without a connection being made.

For the past few days I have gotten to know a group of amazing people, and of course talking about myself also entails talking about my work. After bits of the 4040 story reached the trainers, they requested that I share insight on our model although it does not have much to do with the current training. Ooh the pride!

I happily shared a brief about who we are and what we do. At the end, one of the organisers walked up to me and said she had almost cried as she watched a video I shared. She was completely sold and promised to support us. Ambrose, who had earlier promised (in jest) to give 4040 $10,000, handed me 5,000 for the children. My cup overflows.

Many of the questions the group raised were relevant and a great reminder or what more we can do.

It is out of my comfort zone to coordinate work remotely but I have had to bear it for the past few days. * Quick shout out to the superstar who came up with mobile money.* whilst I have enjoyed my working trip, I must say my heart and mind have kept drifting back to this one thought, we are opening dormitory number 2 tomorrow!!!! I am actually yelling…in my head.

My excitement is palpable. I am completely unable to contain myself.

jump

“ASK AND YOU WILL RECEIVE” Yes, the caps are for emphasis. We have accomplished this because we asked you and you gave…oh so generously!

Tomorrow after we sing, dance and make merry at the Christmas party, we shall leave knowing the girls have a bigger, better home. This gives me so much joy.
Special thanks to everyone who has played a part in building a dorm, ‘being Santa’ or supporting this dream in any other way. You make us who we are.

Mostly, it is because God has been there from the very beginning, all glory to him!

Updates will be coming your way in full gear.
X.

 

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The Reason….

Christmas!  Yes, Christmas is here! I had a Christmas related whatsapp status by 1st November and some people who shall not be named had a few not-so-kind-words for me. I have been on the low since then but it is time to go all out. I’m back! 😀

While this season’s real message is often lost in translation, I am still an ‘old skool’ believer. As if the universe wanted to test my zeal, it surrounded me with mostly indifferent people.

From solo purchasing of gifts to forcing a Christmas tree upon unsuspecting folks, it is safe to say, *breaks into song* We shall overcome some day…….

Growing up, no one really asked what you wanted for Christmas. (Depending on where you grew up) If the financial situation was good, you got a dress, suit or shoes. Luckily, you were almost always guaranteed a special meal. That is more than many children, worldwide can expect on Christmas or any other day for that matter.

My fondest memories are of Christmas holidays when we left town as a family and enjoyed the great outdoors. No smart phones or satellite television, just good old fashioned bonding. I recommend it for everyone, especially those with young families. No matter how much (or little) you save up, there are options. You can always start with a simple trip to Uganda wildlife Education Centre (formerly known as the zoo) and gradually save for more exciting trips in Uganda and beyond.

Lucky for me, for the past three years, Christmas has had even more meaning thanks to the birth of 40-40. I don’t have to wait for ‘Santa’ to raise my spirits because there are so many worthy people to give and lots to be thankful for!

Over that period, we have had presents for children who truly deserve them.

I still squeal when I receive a gift so I can imagine how much more it means for a child especially one without a family to go home to.

The first time we did this circa 2012, we wrapped over 100 gifts. That was one long night! Imagine the shock when we arrived and suddenly ‘new children’ who hadn’t been planned for showed up? Panic! We had to figure out something and I will just say, it was no easy feat. *hands on head*

We ask the children to give us their dream presents and then we make their dreams come true. So far, none has asked for a car, bicycle or IPhone so you are in luck!

This year, we have so many ways in which you can be part of our #BeSanta Bonanza

  1. Participate in Kampala Cocktail Week. Have fun with friends over a cocktail or mocktail and our children will get to receive the gift their heart truly desires.

 

 

4040 CW Web

  1. Visit our website to purchase any of the items on sale. Alternatively, call us up if you have any new or gently used items that someone else would buy. We shall sell everything and use the proceeds to buy the children’s gifts

 

  1. Contribute to a gift or two by sending mobile money to 0702717689 or 0782993311. You can even buy the actual gift, but you have to let us know in advance so that we avoid double purchases (We could just give that one several gifts but some will have more than others, we don’t want that)be santa

 

These children want basic things that many or us do not even think twice about. It’s pretty heart-breaking. From 18 year old Laila who wants bed sheets, possibly the first pair that shall be ‘her own,’ to 10 year old Bizmark who wants a belt. *Just a belt!*

 

Other gifts include, scientific calculators (this is more academic than anything but they probably figured why not use the opportunity) shoes, dresses, dolls for the little ones, metallic cases and school bags. Little Nelson wants a watch with an alarm! I imagine he means the digital ones.

All I ask, is that you help us make these children smile.

 

The Christmas party shall be held on Saturday,12th December in Bombo. On the same day, we shall officially open the girl’s dormitory . *shriek*Please book your seat. Transport and lunch will be on us. Honestly, the more the merrier because we simply want to celebrate with everyone.

Elohim artistic impression

 

 

P.S: This is how 4040 is spending their Christmas but I am certain there are people even in your own lives who have nowhere to go or food to eat. Even an act as ‘simple’ as forgiveness might be all you/they need this Christmas.

Whether it is decorating the cancer/maternity/children’s ward of a hospital, visiting prisoners or the elderly…just do something.

 

I have heard it said many times “But how can I do something so small, for just one person when so many are suffering?” <or something to that effect>
I believe one smile that you are responsible for is ‘enough.’ Imagine how much would be accomplished if everyone did something for just one person?

 

Okay, I am done ‘preaching,’ I just needed to infect some more people with all the happy thoughts,feelings and melodies floating about in my little.

 

All I want for Christmas is a little more love we all have the power to make it happen. Whatever your reason is this year, no matter what you believe, let this December be different.

Have a glorious December and Happy Holidays 🙂

 

I’m running

Don’t you just love the rain? I do! If I could be paid to wear nice warm jackets and boots, sit outside and sip tea, with an assortment of pastries- reading and/or writing I would be rich!
In real life, I brave the rain on boda bodas, arrive looking like a scruffy kitten and try to make up for it with liveliness. Close?
This morning I was up slightly after 5 a.m and like most days, I silently grumbled. Why can’t I just sleep?! I ‘pretended’ to sleep some more, but quickly quit the charades, as I usually do. It was raining so I focused on that. Before long, I realised it was nearing the jogging hour and this rain wasn’t about to halt. I called my partner to discuss this bump in our plan(s) She decided to exercise at home while I chose to try out a new course.
When I got out, the drops weren’t as fierce as I had expected. The first person I met was a little girl, couldn’t have been over 10. She extended a cheery ‘Good morning’ and right there and then, I knew I was doing this.
*****
I ran my first ‘marathon’ around 2009. The marathon is in quotes because an actual one is 42.195 km long and I took part in the 10km race. Nope, not even half! That year, I listened to the ad once and encouraged my roommates to join me.  We weren’t fit but there was still time. We jogged a bit in the subsequent days but were not serious with the training process. It soon came to an abrupt end.

Everyone I told I was participating made a joke about how I would collapse or asked me what I was smoking. This only made me more determined.
At the end of the race, in which I surprisingly did more running than walking, an aunt of mine started a mission to fatten us. Her office’s tent had plenty of bites and for University students who relied mostly on ‘rolex,’ this was heaven. So, uhm, I didn’t collapse. I don’t know if MTN was doing this for everyone but my aunt later send me a printed copy of a photograph. In it, I was running probably at kilometre 9.5 because my facial expression was one of sincere anguish. Good times.
In the years that followed, I took part in some more, halted for a bit and then ran again with the 4040 team at the Rotary cancer run last year.
This time round, I am looking forward to participating in the Hope ward run. While I have no problem with multinational companies extending a helping hand, I have first-hand experience in the struggle of smaller, non-profit initiatives. The Hope ward run is organised by the charity arm of IMG (International Medical Group), International Medical Foundation. Over the years, the Foundation has performed complex surgeries for children, provided cancer treatment and worked on victims of the LRA war in Northern Uganda who required plastic surgery, among others.
The proceeds from the run are used to support the less fortunate through their health complications. Depending on the situation, patients can receive up to 100% discount on the procedures. Having worked with the disadvantaged and seen many loved ones struggle with not just health issues but also a mostly appalling health system, I am more than happy to support this cause.
10 year old Bernard, is a beneficiary of the initiative. He was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of blood cancer. Together with the Uganda cancer institute, he started chemotherapy and was discharged on 10th April. He still receives treatment from the Hope ward.

This year’s run is dedicated to children born with birth defects. Through the funds raised, the foundation shall partner with the Paediatric association of Uganda to provide surgery and/or treatment.
Over 1,200 children and adults have benefited from lifesaving treatment through the Hope ward initiative (I just love the HOPE in that!) since 2006.
Through my work, I have seen what Ugx 1,000, 10,000 or 20,000 from several individuals can do – A LOT!
To participate in the run you only need Ugx 20,000. You can also register as a corporate team for Ugx 500,000 or 1,000,000.
I urge you to save the date November 15th and participate in this marathon.

Hope Ward Run Flier 2015
Overtime, I have heard people say, “these days people don’t want to just give, they have to get something out of it.” I do not subscribe to that school of thought. However, you can choose to make this a day out for your family, a group activity for your friends, team building with the colleagues or simply use it as a training/testing ground if you’re a fitness buff.
Whatever your reason, please come by.
I’m running, are you?

runningSaving live

Fresh start(s)

Today, 2nd July is the date which actually marks the middle of the year. We have completed 182 days and have 182 days to go. Congratulations! If you are reading this then you are alive and well. Well is quite relative so maybe we shall just go with alive. That is an accomplishment in itself, we might not be responsible for it but well, we are here.
“Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” If you lived by this mantra, it would be possible to reinvent yourself and make changes every day. It’s easier said than done, though, right?
Like most people I set out to achieve a few things this year (notice the deliberate absence of that word..that rhymes with solution?) I noticed recently that some of my goals were a trap for me to fail as they were not in my control. What if you want a promotion at work and then you end up losing your job because Boss X brought his wife’s sister’s boyfriend’s son to take your position? Is that your fault? Do you then get to December and put an ‘X’ against this box? That’s a bit unfair. However, even as we made all these plans there was no guarantee we would still be here. It is important to do ones best but still remain realistic. Also, don’t be too hard on yourself.
The beginning of a month, or a week seem like easier times to start a routine. Although if we refer to a certain quote above, you can decide to close your business, withdraw your savings and travel the new world on a random Wednesday after deciding that ‘this is the day.’
According to Maxwell Maltz, who was a plastic surgeon in the 1950’s ,it takes a minimum of 21 days to form a habit. Apparently, the world chose to edit the ‘minimum’ bit and went on with a myth that indeed 21 days are enough. This article explains that after more research was done, it was found that it in fact takes about 66 days. Woah!*Hands on head.* Apparently it was inspired by this study.

Nonetheless, there’s an exception to every rule. Not to mention the researcher didn’t necessary study people living your kind of lifestyle in your city for that period of time. Every individual’s uniqueness certainly plays a role in the result.
Last month, I decided to make some of my year’s  goals a reality by taking little steps. My focus was mainly on health. I made it very simple and achievable. Take a glass of water before breakfast,and as much as possible throughout the day, do a few exercises at home and ensure my diet includes either a fruit or vegetable (or  both) every day. All these were in my control unless of course for some reason  I got ill and could not walk or suddenly there was no water supply. Lucky for me, ‘healthy food’ is usually available at home unless one chooses to ignore it.
I can’t say I formed the habits for sure because I faltered a few times. I missed out on my morning glass of water twice, the exercises I also skipped a couple of times but made up for them by doing double the next day. For the fruits and vegetables, if I had errands out of home, chances were high that I did not care to incorporate them. Thankfully, these days weren’t many and were relatively apart. Not too shabby, I think. The cherry on top is that I have all these things at the front (not back) of my mind and that pushes me to do better. Additionally, I think this is great practice for when I grow my list to include more difficult tasks.
According to ’66 day article,’ this is how to divide your time.
• Day 1-22- Be vocal about your resolve. Apparently, It is more difficult to disappoint people than yourself.(mmhh) It’s easier when you are accountable to them.
• Day 23-44: Look inward. Ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing and remind yourself about the importance
• Day 24-66: Keep moving. You are getting there
• Day 66: Celebrate. Oh and not by doing that which you set out not to do. Yes, they are saying if you were trying to get off alcohol, find a nice virgin pina colada in a colourful glass with a straw and be content 😛

I think these steps are great, if you alter them to suit your personality and routine. I only just read about them and yet I think I did fine-ish. That said, improvement is always an option even if you are at the top.
I think mid-year is a great time to reflect on your plans and even make new ones. I don’t know what works for you but I suggest a journal/notebook, reminders on your phone/PC/bedroom wall. Generally, anything and everything that will get you to where you want to be.
I am going to continue on my quest to make these ‘habits’ stick as I incorporate new items on this list that I hope will outgrow me in my pursuit for a better all-round life.

Go ahead, fly.

darling
My mini-celebration shall take place tomorrow. This is fate, I tell you! As we begin the next part of the year, I am only more determined to do more and better the old me.
My team and I have organised a night of music and poetry dubbed ‘Croak and Rhyme.’ If you are in my circles then this >> #CroakAndRhyme is very familiar and you might even be on the verge of chocking or blocking my team and I. If you do not feel like this, what a patient person you are! Also, ignore all those ‘suggestions,’ they were a bad joke.
This event is different because much as well-known Ugandan Artists will take the stage, ordinary fans and music lovers like you can have your moment of fame. It’s all for the fun of it really, that’s why it is called Croak and Rhyme and not Uganda’s finest musicians.
While you will hear ‘old hits’ performed by great artists like Joanita Kawalya of Afrigo band, the legendary Maddox and Qute Kaye, you will also see several recent favourites.
From Hip hop, to Rn’B and acapella groups, we have it all. Naava Grey, Mun G, Richy Kaweesa, Ruyonga, Benezeri, The Mith, Maro, Nutty Neithan, Shine, Canaan Gents and Sauti ya Africa.
Poets will also hit the stage to give us a dose of their talent. The event will cost you Ugx 10,000 and will take place at the Uganda Museum.

collage
All of this sounds awesome, yes? Well, I am excited even as I type! What’s more exciting is that the proceeds shall help build a dormitory for 30 girls at Elohim Children’ centre Bombo. These children also have a performance actually so you get to see them for yourself.

Please note, they are quite talented so you might leave your wallet, visa and car keys with us 😛

Elohim kids
If music and poetry don’t tickle your fancy or you are unable to make it, contact us on other ways to support the cause. Email info@40daysover40smiles.org or call 0704816607/0777499991
Good luck forming new habits, you have 6 months to go. Scratch that. You have the rest of your life. 21, days, 66 or even 10? Whatever works for you, go for it! Let me know how it goes? Also, see you tomorrow 🙂

All I want for Christmas..

Monica tells me she no longer ‘feels’ Christmas the way she did when she was little.
“Back then, all our step mothers would come with their children. There was so many people and the house was filled with joy,” she recollects.
She was too young to think about which ‘wife’ was treated better or investigate why, she of all children rarely got the ‘Christmas dress’ she desired. She simply enjoyed the holiday.
As she grew older, she soon realised that the absence of her mother, who passed away when she was little, meant there was no one to stand up for her. Nonetheless, Christmas was Christmas and she would enjoy it at all costs.
I promised her we would put up the Christmas tree together. I don’t know if it is going to help but I certainly won’t let her to lose the spirit of Christmas on my watch!
Like her, having the family together is one of my favourite things about this season.
Musical interlude >>>

Little Baby, pa rum pum pum pum
I am a poor boy too, pa rum pum pum pum
I have no gift to bring, pa rum pum pum pum
That’s fit to give a king, pa rum pum pum
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

Shall I play for you, pa rum pum pum pum,
On my drum?

Mary nodded, pa rum pum pum pum
The ox and lamb kept time, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my drum for Him, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my best for Him, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

Then He smiled at me, pa rum pum pum pum
Me and my drum.

Don’t let them tell you you’re not good enough
Don’t let them tell you you’re not strong enough
Me and my drum we’re gonna change the world

I realise that Christmas has been overly  commercialised and I have encountered several people who simply do not see the fuss.
I say, if Christmas will give us reason to visit our folks in the village, spend more time together, give more than usual, shop for the family and have our city light up, then I can deal with people who have lost the sense of what it is truly about.
Perhaps your calendar does not agree that Jesus was born on 25th December, heck maybe you do not even believe in his existence. That is okay. The one language that should rise above religion, sex, race or beliefs is love. It should not take the festive season to remind us to love, but here I am asking you to be engaged in full gear.
See, I am in the ‘business’ of love and spreading it is my trade. At 40-40, we try to make it ‘Christmas every day.’ Even when it is not, we are spending time planning to make this ‘spirit’ manifest in the lives of the children we support and you, the giver.
Whereas this is not the easiest trade, with most transactions being felt and seen, it is also pretty fulfilling. We get paid in hugs and smiles! 😀
I have a wish list of my own, I am sure we all do somewhere. Some things I may never acquire, others I could even find tomorrow. Working towards this list is not easy but at least I have faith and I have the mind to accept what can’t be.
There is a group of special people I know though, they need to be reminded to believe, to be shown that hope is very much alive.
This year we are asking you to join us and make Christmas memorable for these beautiful children we support. Some are orphans, others were abandoned and a number of them are battling cancer.
When asked what he wanted for Christmas, Daniel did not hesitate to let us know he needed new clothes for church. Sunday is the day he actually gets to go out to the ‘real world’ without wearing a uniform or struggling for space. The blue shirt he often wears is a bit worn out. Also, it is not really his because on some Sundays, Moses wears it. This is his chance to own something that truly belongs to him.
At 15 years old, what is it you desperately wanted?
We want to give Daniel his outfit and make the wishes of 50 other children come true.
Their desires are modest, a pair of shoes here, a football there, some toys and watches in between.
Thanks to the support from our friends and networks, we shall be wrapping these gifts this evening.
christmas morn
To be honest, if 40-40 did nothing else all year round and simply gave these, often forgotten children one beautiful day and that gift they had their eyes on, I would be content. As a plus for me, we are involved in a lot more.
Do join us this Saturday at Akiba for a day of giving, laughter, food, games and pure unadulterated fun.
This Christmas party may lift the spirits of the kids but I daresay, your own life could be changed forever.
santa es+baby
In case I don’t ‘see’ you soon, have a very Merry Christmas and fulfilling 2015!

The fault in our stars

That’s the thing about pain, it demands to be felt.

When Raymond gave me the movie “The fault in our Stars.” He warned me that there would be lots of tears involved.
It is for that reason that I put it very far from me, waiting for the ‘right moment.’
They say ‘misery loves company’ but I find that when I am at my lowest, the last thing I need is to find out that someone else is in pain.
I had been having one bad day after another and as a result, I did not need any pain inducing movies or activities.
What I needed was a few happy endings and perhaps a chance to be invisible for a while. *Didn’t happen*

When I realised things were not changing, I decided to give the movie a chance and it is from it that I heard the phrase “That’s the thing about pain, it demands to be felt.”
Not that this was an epiphany or anything but it perfectly summarised what was going on inside.
Ever been in a place; where you did not want to hear phrases like “It gets better,’ or ‘Hang in there?’ Have you had to pretend that everything is okay when in fact it is the exact opposite.
Are there times when it was your ‘duty’ to be strong and so you did precisely that even if you dealt with fear after fear?
Did you ever need to turn to someone only to find they were not there?
It happens to all of us, at some point.
It is in these moments that self pity might creep up and you seek every ‘portion’ you can find that will bring even a speck of positive vibes, if only for a minute.
Although the movie mainly centred on victims of cancer, it was beautiful in so many other ways. Yes, it had me unashamedly wailing like a little child.
The tears might have been induced by the characters, but deep within so many emotions were aroused.
Aches from the thought of death, the real victims I have encountered who have lost the battle to cancer or are still struggling with it. The families, friends and care takers who are learning to adapt albeit sorrowfully. It was pretty devastating.
It ended. I meditated. It stayed with me.
Fast forward, to a few days later.
We were all set for Akiba, ready to pain the house, put up playing places and material for the kids who are struggling with cancer and make merry.
I was excited and restless.
The skies seemed to have other plans and I began to anticipate the “It’s raining, I can’t make it’ messages. A few of them came in but I was overwhelmed by the number of people who turned up despite the terrible weather. The kind of loyalty you do not find everyday.
We played indoor games during the downpour and it was so much fun 😀
When the tea arrived, it was just what the doctor had ordered. A huge ‘tumpeco’ (mug) all to myself 🙂
The cleaning, painting, building and at time demolishing (ssshhhh) finally began. People were like worker bees. I have not seen that amount of dedication and team work in a long time.
They did not even want to have lunch before the work was done.
My heart was just all kinds of warm and fuzzy watching all this.

akiba paint

akiba washing

paint 2

One pose then back to work

One pose then back to work

I had to run and give a talk at a women’s conference but I felt like missing even a few minutes of the ‘Akiba pimping’ would kill me. I know. I know.

Akiba with kds
You know how a young mother can leave her son with a sister or even her own mother and call to check almost every 10 minutes? Even if she knows the little one is in safe, experienced loving hands? Yep. That is the best way I can explain it.
Immediately after the talk, I rushed back to see what was happening. Not before a young lady, Daphne* asked for my contacts.
I shall share an excerpt of the email she has sent me.
Thank you so much for what you do to bring a smile to children in Uganda. Growing up as an orphan made me go           through various challenges but luckily, I was able to study and graduate.
I have no stable job but believe I don’t need a lot of money to help the less fortunate. I believe I can volunteer with you and bring a smile to some children.
I therefore request to be part of your team and look forward to changing lives.
After reading this email, I was reminded of what 40-40 is all about.
It is not easy or painless but it is certainly worth it. (Also, pain demands to be felt so we shall have to accept these demands, no?)
The feeling of joy in my heart from the experiences this journey has brought me is almost palpable.
It is also quite evident that I have been blessed in more ways that I ever could repay.
Related: Christmas is here 🙂

baby Jesus

After the dorm

“When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream.”

Over a year ago when we did our research to decide which community to work with, we were rather overwhelmed by the fact that our best fit desired infrastructure worth 28 million UGX.
At the time, we did not even have a bank account. After months of relentless campaigns, we achieved our goal and put up a dormitory for 210 children.

dorm complete
I overheard someone ask on that very day when we opened the dormitory “What about beds?”
When you work for an organisation like 40-40, it is easy not only to succumb to pressure from the outside world, but also to slowly realise that almost everyone has an opinion regarding what you can do better, when and how. You may attempt to do everything and end up doing nothing at all. Striking the balance between following your heart and taking advice will often seem like rocket science until such a time when structures are stable, responsibilities are apparent, funding is stable and activities are streamlined. That day is coming soon.
I knew at the back of my mind that eventually, an ideal situation for 40-40 would be one in which; a community identifies a need. They decide on a nursery school for example. They are not in position to raise all the funds necessarily but they realise their children need a firm foundation. We ask them what they can provide. They agree to offer land and man power. We then find resources to make their dream a reality. Along the way, health workers within the area agree to visit weekly to deal with any health conditions the children may suffer. Before you know it, one of them has been employed as an in-house nurse. A single father who long since gave up on his teaching career recognises the need within his community and decided to volunteer time at the school. 40-40 partners with an organisation which focuses on early childhood care especially for disadvantaged children. They come in to give the teachers in this area skills and training specific to their situation. The list goes on. By now I believe you get the drift.
We told and retold the dormitory story. One of my favourite memories of this occurred when an article was published days after we commissioned the dorm. Evelyn was at the salon half paying attention to the music on the radio. The presenters spoke only Luganda and she didn’t even know the frequency. She would soon realise they were speaking about ‘abavubuka a’ba zimbye e’Luweero’ (youth who built in Luweero) She became attentive and contacted me immediately. I was thrilled! Brenda on the other hand stopped asking people “Have you heard of 40-40?” and started to ask “Do you know about the youth who built a dorm?” That should catch your attention! 😀
We stayed in contact with Happy Times Luweero but lent a hand to other projects we thought deserved our time and attention.
Then it started to happen!
Students who belong to AISEC, more specifically from China and Japan visited the school. They fell in love with the kids although they could barely speak any language besides their own. One 16 year old boy got malaria and his Japanese parents told him to catch the next flight home or they were coming. He was adamant. He asked to be treated at the same hospital the kids went to and stayed around for another month during which he recovered completely, feasted on posho and beans and helped with the chores.
The students then purchased beds, mattresses,bedsheets and blankets that filled the dormitory. All the children had to do was carry the other school requirements! What a beautiful sight.

Made in Uganda, in fact- in Luweero :)

Made in Uganda, in fact- in Luweero 🙂

beds
One of the reasons we built the dormitory was because the school was taking in many abandoned babies who had nowhere to go yet the space was not enough to accommodate them and the older children.
Looking at the babies’ section, it is difficult to believe that all those children were once squashed in there but then again, there is a time for everything.

Baby Harris (named after a 40/40 team member) was abandoned at 4 days. He has a home now!

Baby Harris (named after a 40/40 team member) was abandoned at 4 days.
He has a home now!

Tunyumila mu pair :D

Tunyumila mu pair 😀

When Hudani Manji Holdings Ltd (Yo Kuku) contacted Brenda about how best to partner with 40-40, we were especially excited to find out that their 64 acre factory was located close to Luweero. The natural option was for their support to be directed to Happy Times.
Since their primary product is chicken, their donation would be in kind. Fresh frozen chicken, for the kids, straight from the factory! When we informed them that the school had no fridge, they replied ‘Let there be a deep freezer that can contain 100kg!’ (not in those words but you get the drift)
Wululu! The excitement! Yes, 50kg of chicken for the children monthly. A meal they only anticipated over the Christmas holiday.
The first batch was delivered on Monday- public holiday just!

yo kuku 2

yo kuku 3

I am hungry!!

I am hungry!!

meal 2

The P7 pupils cut and cooked their own chicken after the exam. No jokes!

The P7 pupils cut and cooked their own chicken after the exam.
No jokes!

One of our findings with people who are looking after vulnerable children in this country is that they want to remain pitiful and show no sign of development in order to attract donors both local and international. Little do they know, it simply makes them ‘less attractive’ candidates for whatever help you have to offer. Sometimes they don’t know better, most times though, they are driven by greed. Like Michael has asked before ‘Can you teach initiative?’

Changing a mindset is certainly a full time job that requires years of patience.

“And sure enough, even waiting will end…if you can just wait long enough.”

The director at Happy Times, Ms. Joyce Namigadde though, tells things as they are and makes it a joy to give. Why? You get to see the developments almost immediately.
In two weeks or so, the school shall be pumping clean water after an Australian family raised $10,000 for construction of a borehole at the school. At the beginning of this year we were working on a proposal to a corporate company whose CSR was directly for water. We soon found out about the Australians who have clearly  kept their word.

borehole
As if this News is not good enough, three of the babies from the home are going to be adopted and given a chance to grow up with a mommy and daddy *clapping incessantly* 🙂
The adoption fees have been used to purchase land near the school that will be used to build a self contained house exclusively for the babies and toddlers.
There is little else to do other than give God the glory.
Hard work, dedication and perseverance pay off. Granted, sometimes it takes a while but your patience will yield fruits.

“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”

What is your dream today?
#Iam4040