Thursday..

36

Originally posted on Thursday 6 April

It is Thursday, my most ‘predictable’ day of the week because I am sure how it will end- with a 4040 meeting.
I often schedule appointments around it..If anyone wants to have wedding meetings with me involved, I ask that Thursday isn’t an option; if there is an invitation on a Thursday, I make an exception only if it is really important or if I know my presence will make a difference.
Everyone who knows me, knows this bit of my schedule. *If I owe you money, this is all a joke👆*
This bond has lasted longer than some relationships. We stick together. Before the meetings we are catching up, during the meeting we’re being a menace to the chairman and after the meeting we are saying goodbye but really staying. <cue song- Everytime I try to leave, something keeps pulling me back…🎼🎶🎵>
Even when I am unwell, I force myself there. I know that a night fight or disagree, but we all want the same thing-to create change and that is priceless.
Today it rained in the evening and there were some cancellations as expected but still 14 friends were there to discuss over tea and snacks, sharing ideas that we hope will change lives.
We used to meet on Tuesdays, then two members enrolled in a Master’s class that required them to study on Tuesday. We moved days and never looked back.
We have had ‘5 homes’ where we have met for 5 years.
Some members have settled down and stopped coming, others have settled down and still come; some are single and searching..others are single and being searched..and some..we don’t even know..and it doesn’t really matter. What we know is a have each other.

I don’t know what this picture will look 5 years from now and to be honest, that doesn’t make me lose sleep at night (as much as it used to) I am basking in the now..and the now is beautiful!

It speaks of dreams and rainbows, pain and lessons, love and loss, hard work and loyalty. It provides so many things I never even knew I wanted, that fit right into this life of mine.

 

I probably didn’t do much in my own power, to deserve this blessing that keeps on giving..but one thing is for sure; I will do everything in my power to keep it, to keep them.

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Lights, Camera, Action

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As a child, I was anything but timid.
I found my true-self when I hit the stage.
MDD (Music Dance and Drama *Musilu Ddala Ddala😛* was my calling. At the time it didn’t matter that your voice didn’t sound even remotely like Adele’s. I know this because I got away with solo performances and I can’t even sing to get free rolex😭
I played local instruments in the instrumentals, I participated in pretty much every traditional dance, the folk songs and even performed poetry.
I loved acting the most.
All this was at school during class competitions and later when I joined the School choir.

Over the weekends, my brother  and I provided some back up dancing services to live bands. You didn’t need to call our manager or book in advance. We just showed up with our folks and got in formation shortly after. We were reliable like that.
We also got paid handsomely by revellers. That was until mum kept the money for us😒
I am sure you know how that story ends.
When we asked for our $$, we were given a list of all the things we had not paid for since leaving the womb😞

 

Fast forward to adulthood.
I dislike crowds. Along the way I lost the childhood innocence and became self conscious. I become shy even when everything in me tells me there is no reason to be and getting on stage is not fun for me anymore. It is scary.
Younger me would definitely scoff at this boring version.😳

All my dreams of Actor-Model-Writer-Airhostess-Lawyer-Journalist-Writer again (in that order, I think) have not quite materialised.

Nonetheless, I would like to believe every stage along the way prepared me for something else. Many of my public speaking sessions are probably fueled by that past acting spark to be honest. I get up intimidated by the crowd, anxious,nauseous, stomach rumbling and somehow manage to speak sense (or so I hope) and leave without fainting. Little miracles those ones.

Don’t get me started on this 5 year journey of ‘begging.’ It is difficult for me to even ask a friend (not stranger or acquaintance) to lend me a small sum of money let alone give me something I can’t return. And what do I have here? A 5-year ‘career’ in hounding friends, acquaintances, strangers and the internet world at large to give,give,give-time,resources, skills, everything!😮

I recently met someone (with whom I am acquainted) on the street and they asked “What are you collecting money for this time?” I chocked a little, afterwhich I responded, “Good afternoon, how are you?”
Basically,his mind told him that the greeting I now deserve is “How much do you want?”

Most of this journey has been filled with ironies, in different shades.
We are complex, ever-changing and if we embrace change, it opens our eyes,minds and hearts to the multiple things that we can be, that we can become. We need to allow ourselves to change, to grow, to learn.

Human beings are not one-dimensional;we are multi-faceted; not even what you see on the surface is a representation of who someone truly is.
We can be weak and strong; we can be bullies and still be emotional, confident yet anxious and so much more.
There’s so much beauty in being unapologetically authentic.

There’s no use watering down who you are or toning down your awesome because the world isn’t ready. Make them ready💪💃and if they fail to be, their loss😈
On that note;
Perhaps at 68,someone will write a script that will touch my heart and I will hit the stage one more time. Maybe I’ll act the role of a granny in denial, asking her grandchildren to call her “Aunt Essie”
Till then;
Go forth and explore the multiple versions of the amazing soul that is YOU.

Breakfast with the Kids

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Saturday mornings for a long period, during this 4040 journey meant one thing- #Breakfastwiththekids!
I can’t remember when we came up with the idea for it but those were some of the best days of my life.

Breakfast being my favourite meal, generally, I can see how those weekends made me extra excited; hanging with our babies, munching away and watching my friends and ‘newbies’ fall in love too.

Those early Saturday mornings saw many have shorter Friday nights in anticipation; others just appeared with their blood shot eyes, after reminding me incessantly not to leave without them; some went to office and dropped by after, It was amazing!

It was a beautiful routine; some people bought the items we needed, others went over to cook the porridge before we arrived, and then we all converged at Tusky’s Makerere and went over to share with the children. Good times!

That diet though, walala!! No wonder most of The children claimed they were sick after (although they had strength to run around for a couple of hours after the heavy meal)
Porridge-pancakes(kabalagala)-samosa-chapati..sometimes donuts too..
Only later did we introduce fruit to balance this mix. Somebarre help me count this calories😮
The conversations, the games after, everything left me rejuvenated for the week and I am sure many others felt things in their hearts.

I hope that as parents we shall make time for our children in the same way, or even better.

Celebrating Super Women

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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.

This one is for YOU

I wrote this 4 years ago and recently discovered it when Gloria asked if I ever shared it on my blog.

I decided to post it here. May it remind someone, today that they are never alone.

 

This one is for the girl who can’t sleep at night because her father is coming late yet again with woman number five, six oops she lost count

It is for the single mother who raised her daughter but has only gotten insults and lies in return, tales she can’t recount-

This isn’t for the ‘perfect family’ that goes to Sunday brunch or spends their weekend in Zanzibar

It is for the ones who don’t know where their next meal will come from because daddy is always in the bar, mummy’s pennies hard to come by-

For the girl who lost her youth to chores and fending for her younger siblings when she would really like a day off, okay maybe that’s too much. How about an hour or two just for her?

 

Here is one for the man whose father abandoned him as a child and still wants nothing to do with him many years later –

The daughter who did not get to meet her parents, unsure if they are proud of her wherever they are

The son whose dad and mom left just before he achieved his dreams

 

Today isn’t about the curvy confident girl who walks with an aura of splendour

It is for the one who is uncomfortable with her sexuality

Lesbian, asexual, transexual-

 

That girl who often hears words like fat, plus size, overweight, weight loss, exercise, gym bla bla bla gosh, when does it all end? So, I love juicy chicken, sue me.

But ooh, that isn’t all; the ‘small’ girl isn’t safe either. She is skinny, she is dieting, and she must be anorexic. Do you ever get clothes that actually fit? they ask. You must be spending all your time on fashion magazines, they add. Have they ever heard of genes? I guess not-

 

This one is for that boy who was bullied throughout school and thought the world would be more sympathetic

But all he has got is cruelty and thoughts of suicide. Surely everyone would be happier without him

It is for that girl who lost her self-esteem as a child and is still waiting for it to somehow grow back. Mummy can you hear her? No, wrong selection, it is she that took it away in the first place.

It is for the boy who doesn’t belong

Who stands in the middle of a crowd and feels all alone

It is for the girl who wants to know God

But can’t take the first step

The one who tried to walk the path with Jesus

But had no one to hold her hand through it all

 

This one is for the wrongfully accused that still serve sentences

The individuals whose existence is questioned because of their resemblance- to this tribe, that terrorist group, no matter how unrelated-

It is for the virgin who was shunned by her partner

The repentant thief that was judged by an angry mob

The girl who was abandoned after her last abortion

Even if she did it to please the man she so dearly loved-

The mother who held her baby for the first time and smiled

Blocking thoughts of the father that fled-

The girl whose little angel didn’t make it to her first birthday

The boy who only hears stories of birthday cake

 

It is for the broken hearted man who swears to stay alone forever

Because the love of his life said she would never leave but sort of meant;

I will never leave you, Mark, James, Earl and pretty much every guy that comes my way

It is for all the smiles you put on another’s face

Even as you weep profusely thinking about your life-

 

This one is for the hidden truths

The silent cries

The secret lives

The unspoken pain

The broken families

The poker faces

This one is for you…not the ‘you’ that the world sees but the ‘you’ who battles every day;

The real Y.O.U

 

lonely

Google image

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