My birthday wish

Every little bit of me is excited and full of cheer not because everything is going my way but because I have life and oh what joy that brings me, especially today! 😄

September is a special month for me for two reasons; it is the month I was born and also the same one I chose to take a leap of faith and leave formal employment to build my dream.
This post has a little something to do with both.
Four years after quitting my job, and 5 after starting this 40-40 journey and it is still such a struggle, so much fatigue and heartache. I am still mostly clueless and some days are longer than years.
That is the truth.
The other truth is that it is an extremely rewarding gift, that keeps giving. So many lives have been transformed, including my own and I am convinced that the best is yet to come!

This year I thought I would travel to an exotic destination to mark the passing of a decade. After a while, I joked to my friends that all I wanted for my birthday was money. I have a long list of needs and I would help them help me. They gift me with cash, I buy stuff I actually want/need instead of a gift I might just look at, unable to re-gift it or use it. In my genius plan,everyone wins😛
Buttttt…there are some things more important to me  than the Maldives and Jimmy Choos.
One of those things is the dream that is 4040. A chance for all of us to play our part to make the world a better place.
I now have a birthday wish that is less about me and more about some beautiful children, some of whom I am yet to meet- getting more resources to make their lives better and we can get them there-together!

A month ago, I signed us up to this platform called Global giving. It presents an opportunity for people all over the world to contribute to causes they believe in and you stand a chance to have your donations matched.

The catch is that we need to raise a minimum of $5,000 (approximately 18 million) to stay on as permanent partners and receive access to new donors.
The other catch is that we have until 29th September to make this happen.
This $5,000 will bring us closer to our dream of setting up learning centres for vulnerable children. These centres will have books,toys, computers and learning aids availed at absolutely no cost.

You can watch a short video that summarises our dream here

These centres will also give individuals an opportunity to train children in different skills.
You get to spend your free time and weekends teaching the children an a centre near you how to play guitar, code or fix a car. The opportunities are limitless!
These children will not only learn but also get exposed and hopefully inspired by your success stories. These activities will also keep them occupied instead of being engaged in child labour or crime.

The first centre will help us test various interventions, learn and improve so that we can put up many more for children who most deserve it.

So how do we do this? We do it together!
You can follow the link and make your donation here. 

Will you be our first? 🙂

Donations can only be made online using a debit/credit card.

I do have another suggestion though. If your preference is mobile money and it is what you can access easily, we can make it happen too.
I am happy to share my number (which is registered in my names so your heart is at rest) 077-749-9991

Every donation that will come on there shall then be converted to dollars and I will find someone to donate the equivalent on the platform.
I will then send you evidence of your donation on the website.

We need 500 people donating $10 each/250 people donating $20 dollars, 100 people donating $50 dollars each or 50 people donating  $100.
That is approximately Ugx 36,000,72,000,180,000 and 360,000 respectively.

Lucky for me, I believe in the impossible; Not only because I am a dreamer but also because I have seen the power of people almost daily, for the most part of this beautiful journey.
We can do this!💪

Check out our Website, Facebook and Twitter to get acquainted with our work if this is the first time you are hearing of it.

Also, here is a picture of me doing that which makes my heart leap for those who don’t know me personally but will come across this blog post.

Es black and white

Please join me to make my birthday wish come true.  So many lives will be better for it.

Thank you in advance!

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Actions speak louder than words

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A number of people have asked if 4040 is a Christian organisation; others have assumed. Many a time, I have heard expressions like “That 4040 event is for balokole (born again Christians) I can’t go.” Or been asked ” How come there was alcohol at your event? I thought you are saved.” The responses don’t vary too much. I don’t see reason is constantly justifying my beliefs.

I remember a 5 aside (soccer) event at Bush court a couple of years ago, vividly; Dora walked over to me,Guiness in hand, visibly tipsy.
She was yelling my name. Earlier that afternoon, I had been attacked by John* because he felt his team was cheated during a game. He had downloaded profanities, one after the other and left me feeling both insulted and repulsed.
While I later found out he was a perpetual trouble causer, his breath betrayed another reason for his increased confidence.
A friend had whisked me away in time, as John was threatening to beat me up. I could not wait for that day to end.
The tone of Dora’s voice simply made me think “Not again!” I turned around anyway.
She gripped my arm and said “Thank you.” I was puzzled. Although I had seen her before, I could not imagine I had done anything for her to warrant gratitude. That is when she told me that she herself had had a troubled childhood and was glad that 4040 was helping vulnerable children. She added that she was excited to also be supporting in a small way and was thinking of ways to do more. My eyes welled up. I spent sometime talking to her and blocked out the earlier incident with John.

What I am about to say can be interpreted and debated in several ways but I hope that the message shall be well articulated anyway; I subscribe to a brand of Christianity that encourages Doers. The word is important and so is sharing it especially to those who most need it(we,sinners);but I believe that if we spend all our time preaching, it will keep us from actually practicing that which we preach.
While the organisation upholds Christian values, we also do not turn away anyone-after all, we are all sinners alike.

Atheist,Agnostic,Traditionalist;so many of these individuals are more Christ-like than those who shout ‘Lord,Lord!’
( “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven,but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”)

Millions have died at the hands of people practicing ‘religion,’ and using God’s name for these atrocities; It’s about time we stopped casting stones,and spent time saving our brothers and sisters so that by standers can see/feel the power of the mighty God we serve.

Money matters

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There are some figures that are ingrained in my mind, from this journey. These amounts are not necessarily the highest or smallest, but it is their significance that has stayed with me.
Over the years we have raised approximately $100,000 from individuals and entities (mostly the former) Here are some special moments.

In 2012, during the very first campaign,
Opolot, whom I had gone to school with (but wasn’t close to) reached out. He wanted to know how to lighten the load. Contributions were slow and I was worried. I jokingly asked for half a million shillings. He sent it to my phone, no questions asked. That boost made things so much easier and I always remember him.
I met a little boy of about 8 years old after the Young Achievers awards in December 2013. He came over to me with his mum. He said that after hearing my speech he was compelled to contribute the money he had. He handed me Ugx 5,000 (less than $2) I hugged him really tight. I have never forgotten him.

 

In the same year, two of Ritah’s nieces saved 20,000 (a little over $5) from their pocket money. They handed it over because they had met the children we were working with and were touched by their plight.

There are two Ugandans in the diaspora, Tom and Tim; they send through a contribution for pretty much every 4040 campaign. I have never met Tim personally and I only met Tom because of his support for our causes. These gentlemen humble me.

I barely knew Lucy when I opened up to her. We had been running campaigns to raise money for the dormitory we were building in Luweero at the time. We were out of options because a had organised events, ran campaigns and still weren’t hitting the target.
She invited me to meet her when she visited Uganda and handed me Ugx 1 million in cash. I was blown away. Lucky for us, she was present at the opening of the dorm later that year.

28 million. This was the amount we needed to raise for said dormitory. When we looked at it, we were certain we could never get it. We dillydallied,suggested we contribute half, second guesses ourselves-everything but admitted we were more capable than a have ourselves credit for. Finally, we decided to give it a try.
We organised and event and unveiled #BuyABrick. This campaign helped us raise 8 million shillings in 10 days, just on Facebook and Twitter alone>>with the help of mobile money for deposits to be made.
We succeeded, scratch that, we conquered! The dormitory is still up and running, capable of housing 210 boys and girls.
We were nobodies and people trusted us. We started with zero and somehow raised millions for a worthy cause.
These people are the unsung heroes.
As we grow, our needs increase and expectations are higher..but this 28 million was nothing short of a miracle.

All these people, their stories and their hearts, all of them are blessings without whom we’d be nothing.
I will never forget that.

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

40

“Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has many; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”

“40/40, why not 50/50 or 70/30?” These are some of the questions that I have had to answer overtime. First,I laugh, and then begin to share our story. This season is the reason for 40, and not any other number. When you think of it, the Bible did love the number 40 🙂

Four years ago, I sat, as I am now, typing away on a keyboard just a few days after Ash Wednesday. A thought had crept up in my mind the night before and thankfully, I had written it down (write your dreams and ideas people) I would then open a facebook group that would change my life and that of others.

Every February since, I have been reminded of that little dream that found its little feet and started to walk without any knowledge of what lay ahead. I don’t know what you plan on giving up this lent (if anything) but I urge you to go a step further and give something on top of denying yourself certain pleasures. I could sit here and tell you that 40-40 is the place to go and donate but I won’t. Instead, I hope that you can find a cause that is dear to your heart, something you have thought of but never done or simply procrastinated upon. It could be a member of your family who is struggling with a mental illness, a lady in the neighbourhood who has no one, that child you’ve thought of adopting, heck it could even be you that needs saving. Whatever you choose to do, whoever you choose to give, I pray that you’ll find peace and fulfillment.

Google image

Google image

 

“Whether one believes in a religion or not and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn’t anyone who doesn’t appreciate kindness and compassion.”

I have also learnt not to hide under the umbrella of charity. Just because it is what I do, doesn’t mean there isn’t much more good I can do, more of me that I can give.It is something I constantly remind myself. Don’t cross your hands and say, “But I already pay school fees for Mary.” I wonder what would happen if God responded to our prayer with “But I already blessed you last year.” <Forgive the guilt trip> There is so much to share, so many people to forgive (including yourself) and deep cleansing that can be done in different ways. Use this period as an ‘excuse’ to dust those cobwebs. We have an opportunity for transformation within ourselves and our surroundings.

giveI pray that this season is one of great reflection for you. I hope that you can block out all the noise (literal and figurative) and focus on that which makes your heart dance. Jesus’ death and resurrection tells of a great love that is still difficult to fathom all these years later. We continue to learn, to be reborn. We can be ambassadors of that love, everyday in many different ways.

I don’t know if there is such a thing as this but “Happy Ash Wednesday.” May HIS love abide in your hearts for all eternity.

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 🙂

 

The luxury that is food..

A quick internet search led me to a few statistics that left me quite uncomfortable. Sometimes, you see and hear things but cannot quite comprehend their intensity.

The World Food Programme website gave me  a bit of that;

  • Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the highest prevalence (percentage of population) of hunger. One person in four there is undernourished.
  • Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45%) of deaths in children under five – 3.1 million children each year.
  • 66 million primary school-age children attend classes hungry across the developing world, with 23 million in Africa alone.

Can you let that sink in? Honestly, that can take a while, and it would still not really sink in. At least it hasn’t for me.

The world ‘celebrated’ World food day last week and the good people at  Hello Food decided to do something amazing for the less fortunate among us.

They are giving away a kilogram of rice, sugar, beans, maize  and flour to Elohim Development Centre (where 4040 is building a dormitory) for every comment you make on this particular post on their  facebook page <<

As if that is not enough, every time you share the post, the children will get double. So, if you posted sugar, they instantly receive two kilograms of sugar 🙂

I can’t think of a more meaningful way to commemorate this week. Even if you will not leave the comfort of your home/office, all the work will be done ‘for you’ with just one simple click! (or two)

This offer ends on Thursday 22nd October.
I urge you all to spare a few minutes, visit the Hello foods facebook page <<here and get clicking. Uhm, now would be nice 🙂

 

 

hello food

Thank you in advance 🙂