Disappointment and hurting hearts

15

This is a ‘real time’ tale in the series.

Two years ago, I applied for the YALI fellowship hosted in Washington DC. This initiative is the brainchild of a man I greatly admire, President Barack Obama. It supports young African Leaders. *I think I am fairly young..and a leader, yes?* Moving on;
I made it to the interview stage and then didn’t make it.
Last year I applied for this year’s cohort. I thought I was ready this time, more experience, better application. Yes?
Uhm..Perhaps not.
I found out that I didn’t make it.
The email response basically says “You’re good but not good enough.”
It stung but I told myself that it wasn’t time..then I told myself that 5 years is a long time..then I decided it wasn’t for me and I shall move on, keep doing what I do.
We have a 5 year anniversary dinner in a little over a month. We have approached over 20 companies for sponsorship and we chose a pretty awesome, influential woman to be our Guest of Honour.
She stands for everything we believe in.
We wanted Michelle Obama but thought it’s best she enjoys this ‘chill time’ with her hubby first😉

Yesterday, I started my morning by calling 4 of the companies I spoke to about sponsorship. One person picked up and said they would not partner with us, the other made her line busy and 2 didn’t even pick up. I was devastated. I considered cancelling all the day’s plans..Instead, I wore some red lipstick and got up to face the world.

This morning as I was recovering from what sounds like an action movie scene, the murder of AIGP Kaweesi (RIP), I checked my mail.I am always hopeful that I will find good news when I log in.

Instead I found a letter from a representative of our preferred Guest of Honour, she will not make it.
Tears started streaming down my face at an uncontrollable rate. I had to sit and try to take it all in. We have courted her for a month or so and my faith was immense. We halted printing of invites so that she could confirm and then we distribute.
I prayed, hard; had dreams in which she featured, I brushed up on the language she speaks so I could ‘impress’ on D-day and in all our meetings, we spoke like she had already said yes.
I didn’t know how emotionally attached I was to it all until I received this email.

Now I have gone back to bed to mourn some more before actually starting the process again..and continuing to work because the world doesn’t stop..or wait.
Pain demands to be felt; so do change and time.

The recurring questions about these scenarios, include but are not limited to; “Aren’t we good enough?”
“Haven’t I done enough?”
“Where did we go wrong?”
“What more could I have done?”
“When will it be the right time?
I am more hurt than I thought I would be and quite 💔 to be honest.

 

 

Why am I sharing this?
Well, your worth can’t be determined by what people think or say; or how many things don’t go your way.
Often things can be a lot worse but of course we don’t want to hear that when we are hurting. Not even close. We just want things to be okay. We want to get what we hoped for, prayed for, worked for..and it doesn’t seem fair when we don’t.
Nonetheless, C’est la vie.
You rant..you *sniff* cry, *sniff,*
You binge eat, perhaps take a shot; talk to a loved one,take a walk, listen to music,nap; write a post like this, you do whatever it takes to help you deal then you dust yourself off and live to try another day.
Friday,5 May will come..and no matter who attends (or doesn’t) how much we raise for our causes (or don’t); we shall be celebrating how far we have come at that anniversary dinner.
We shall give our next 5 years to God and trust that HE shall finish that which HE started.🙏

Note: Originally written on March 17th and posted on facebook

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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.

Happy tears :)

While I was chatting with Barns last night, after we won the award, he ended with “I will await the blog post.” So..here it is!
For the past couple of years I would see the advert for the NSSF torch awards but I felt we were not ready. We needed to have something to our name and present a good plan. This year, when I looked at it, I felt it was time.
Thankfully, when I shared with the team, one of the members, Benjamin said he had a plan. It was then that a small team came together (virtually) to concretise this plan and send in our proposal. We joked about winning for a bit but then went back to work and ‘forgot’ about it.
A little over 10 days ago, I received a call. We were shortlisted and they needed to visit our offices to shoot a video as soon as possible. I was unavailable and found most of the team was too.  Trying to put  all of it together took the joy out of the News. We agreed to do the shoot that Saturday (18th) We participated in a charity walk organised by Wakisa Ministries to raise awareness for teen moms and then walked slowly to the office (because we had so much energy that need to be exhausted) to await the Nssf team.
When we saw the camera crew, it began to sink in. We asked about the other nominees and I can swear my insomnia worsened from that night onward . What if we win? What will this mean? Can we actually do this?
Fast forward to last night. I was glad we were able to secure invites for everyone who worked on the proposal so they could at least have a nice dinner if we didn’t win. We noticed early in the evening that we were the ‘wohoo’ table. We made more noise for the other winners than they did for themselves.
The past winners shared their testimonies and renewed our hope in humanity. Then came this year’s nominees and their incredible work from making sanitary towels for school girls to providing training for secondary school students left us in awe.

I am a bowl of nerves whether it is a competition or a celebration so you can imagine what was happening. It was so bad that Zindzi, a team member said she had felt nothing from the start but our anxiety quickly spread to her as well. We were leaving no one behind!
Different regions were awarded as we tensed up and held hands, cracked stale jokes and sang along to the band’s music. Anything for a distraction! Finally, they got to Central region and we were NOT mentioned. The young lady who won happens to be called Esther. She is only 19 and working to protect young mothers under her organisation Child care and Rescue Program. I was amazed by this teenager!

We celebrated her while trying not to think about our own disappointment. Only one award was left, the national award and that couldn’t be us. Could it?
There was some suspense and finally they mentioned that the next organisation had impressed the most and would win the coveted Ugx 20 million cash prize handed over by the First lady, Hon. Janet Museveni. That group happened to be…Yes, you guessed it 4040 !
What happened next is still a bit of a blur. We pretty much broke into tears at the same time. There were cameras, people and.. more cameras and more people. Somehow, we got strength to walk up to the podium.
I kept crying and the handshake with the First lady quickly ‘evolved’ into a hug. There I was weeping and she took me into her arms and it was not awkward at all (really?) The team that had gathered around hugged her in turns. *this was all normal*  She handed over the award and dummy cheque (for 20 million shillings!!) along with Hon. Bahati, the NSSF Managing Director Mr. Richard Byarugaba and his pleasant Deputy, Geraldine.

 

gloria hug

first lady
We were ushered off the stage for the guest of honour to give her speech. She spent the first few minutes applauding our work. I can’t confirm this for sure because I was high on emotions but amidst my astonishment, I think I heard her say that ‘Uganda’s future is secure if it has young people like these (4040) doing such work.

This was the exact moment actually. No lie! She is gesturing towards us on the left. Nope. I t wasn't a dream.

This was the exact moment actually. No lie! She is gesturing towards us on the left. Nope. I t wasn’t a dream.

 

After a few photographs, she left the function (before we could exchange phone numbers, sigh)

group
A three course meal was served but you can’t pay me to tell you what that tasted like. I also have no idea what I said in the acceptance speech.

These were all side shows after we saw that cheque.
Breaks into song “It’s not about the money money money, We don’t need your money money, money.” *NOT!*

I kid. That moment itself, in its entirety was really everything.
While at the washrooms, a lady came in and said “Congratulations.” Just as I was completing my thank yous, she added “But you are so emotional!” Neither her tone nor facial expression suggested this was a compliment (Apparently washrooms are not free of judgement) While the other ladies who were with me exclaimed at her reaction, so many thoughts quickly went through my mind. Wouldn’t she be emotional if she had gone through what we have? Does she know how many proposals we have written and been turned down? Could she comprehend the gravity of this win for us? Well, I guess my questions shall remain unanswered and it’s okay because I certainly do not think anyone needs to justify their tears, or laughter for that matter.
We stayed and danced to every song the band played and when they were done, we turned to the DJ’s music. Thankfully, Mr.MD stayed for a while so we had more time to ‘celebrate’ but sadly, every good thing does come to an end. What an amazing Monday it was!
I barely slept and my poor mother has confessed that after we spoke just before midnight, her sleep did not return till much later. I did realise in that moment, as I do now that not everyone gets an opportunity to chase their dreams, have a great support system and also live to tale. It is for that very reason that I will share this story for as long as I can talk, write and breathe.
Unlike many of the previous awards, the public’s vote did not count. A panel chose us from the over 350 applications received from all over the country. However, if it wasn’t for the public’s support up till now, we would never have achieved enough to achieve the level of credibility we can now boast of and for that we are eternally grateful.
Our (winning) proposal *yaay* was for a children’s community library in Luweero because we believe in education and strongly advocate for literacy. Even if this amount can have us complete our dormitory in days (literally) we have to stick to what it was meant for. The good News is, by the end of this year we shall have a dormitory and a library up and running. How awesome is that?
This award means more to us because a Uganda company is supporting us, a Ugandan organisation. This represents one of the core messages we like to share which is that we are perfectly capable of writing our very own happy Ugandan tale, and essentially African tale by supporting our own. It takes a village to raise a child and we have plenty of villages..and children, so why not?
Thank you NSSF for believing in us and other local organisations. I am also grateful to everyone for supporting us thus far and the amazing behind the scenes 4040 team.

To God be the glory 🙂
A luta Continua!