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!

Advertisements

31

Can you sniff 2017? I know I can. Once I begin inhaling the fragrance of Christmas, the year’s end is often the next thought.

Last night I was at a vigil when the mother called in tears. I could barely make out what she was saying but I quickly figured it was news of another death. I went silent.

It feels like this year, I have attended more funerals than celebrations. When it isn’t a beautiful young soul who was just starting out, it is a parent leaving behind innocent little ones or even ‘unfinished business,’ which I feel like we all have. On top of all the salty seas that have constantly had to dissolve, this anguish has greatly affected how I think, how I feel and how I live. Fortunately, some of the outcomes have been positive.

While I have for the past few years been a great advocate for ‘leave whatever job, relationship or other situation which brings you more sadness than joy,’ my conviction has developed by leaps with each sudden farewell. The fleetingness of life increasingly affects my decisions and I find myself imposing these ideals even on poor unsuspecting victims.

A couple of months ago, I found myself ‘lecturing’ Carol about her choices, giving 150% to a job that only milked her, stole her sense of self-worth and lowered her self- esteem. It was only on my way home that I realised I had only met her once and should probably have found a more neutral topic of discussion, climate change? I shrugged it off as ‘motherly instinct’ and consoled myself in the knowledge that I did it in good faith. Last week she sent me a Facebook message explaining that she had suffered a breakdown and her doctor attributed it to her working environment. Carol has since tendered her resignation.

Unfortunately, many young people I interact with have convinced themselves that they should settle for less. On the surface they seem confident, ambitious, happy, and vivacious even. However, they are in bad relationships because “all women/men are the same.” They work crazy hours for little pay and no potential for growth because “it is the same everywhere.” Sadly for the latter, even I have to advise cautiously because I understand that the unemployment burden is very REAL. I also know that we can’t have passion and dreams for breakfast and dinner.

While it is unlikely that you will love people into changing their world view, it is also important that we support our loved ones. We need to take it upon ourselves to reignite their flame when we realise it is burning out, to have the courage to speak out even when we know the truth will sting.

I know there is a thin line between meddling and some of us might prefer to keep silent and ‘keep the peace’ but in my opinion, that is stealing a portion of what we need to give our loved ones.

 

What would you have loved to see/hear when you were younger? Did you (not) have someone holding your hand and showing you direction? Did their presence, or lack thereof affect the person you are today?

What happens when our would-be mentors in the work place are the biggest source of negative energy? What is the expected outcome when our parents tell us we are worthless and/or compare us to siblings/other families without giving us a chance to shine in whichever path we have chosen? Where do we turn when our partners, our friends who were meant to be our biggest cheerleaders become the greatest source of darkness?

Hurt people, hurt people. Can we think about this the next time we inflict pain on others or feel like we too have been wounded?

Many a time we go through life like we are immortal, other times, like we are untouchable. Once in a while, we acknowledge that we might be gone tomorrow but quickly forget and go back to our old ways. I know how guilty I am of this. While we don’t know the day or hour when we shall say goodbye, we do know what makes our hearts smile. We know what it feels like to be broken, betrayed, unloved, alone, forgotten, alienated..ashamed. It is because we know and have felt all this that we should not inflict such pain on others, and yet we still do.

dessert

The year seems like it is already over but in reality we have plenty of time. 31 days.

31 days to

love yourself

pamper yourself

remember yourself

teach yourself

31 days to love others, unashamedly-

31 days to say

I am sorry

I was wrong

I forgive you

I will change <and mean it>

31 days to let go,

Of that which steals your light and shine

31 days to chase

That which brings you joy, even if you don’t catch it <now>

31 days to be that person whom you wish you had in your life.

 

I can’t promise what the outcome will be, but I hope it will help you with a fresh start, or better still, a happier journey that will flow into the new year.

Xx

 

fear

 

 

 

Letter to my little one

Dear baby,

I don’t know if I’ll ever stop calling you that. I know you just moved past toddler stage but it will be a long time before I get over all the transitions.

On this day, 4 years ago, I had you.I want you to know, and always remember that it was one of the best decisions of my life. I didn’t think I was ready and many times I still feel the same, but over time, I have realised there is almost no such thing as ‘ready.’ You were not an ordinary baby, in fact, you were anything but ordinary. Your star began to shine very early and I constantly marvel at the phenomenon that you are. One day you were crawling, the next you were running and then went back to walking; I have never been quite able to keep up.

I love it when you giggle, even better when you laugh. I am sad when I see your tears, I never knew that love could sometimes hurt so bad or make you so happy you feel like you’re going to explode. Anything that can harm you, I want to protect you from, but I am learning that somethings you just need to feel on your own, and I shall not always be able to shield you. You challenge me in ways I can’t explain and keep me on my toes like no one else ever has. By now you know I love you with all that I am, but I will say it again anyway, I love you.

Our journey has been blessed, as I am sure you know, by God and the people around us. Everyone has come around to help me raise you, friends, family and strangers alike. You found favour and because of that, I can sleep soundly knowing you will always have someone. It wasn’t always like that, many people asked me to abandon you, some still do. I don’t get mad at them so much anymore.They don’t see what I see in you, they don’t understand what we have been through. I hope to teach you many things my love, but one of them is that you should not always listen to the crowd just because it’s loud. Most of your grandest joys will come from decisions you made because you felt right, not because everyone was happy with them.

Do you remember those long months,almost two years ago, when we couldn’t sleep, when we felt like the world was coming to an end? My heart ached physically, I could have sworn it was going to jump out of my body. I didn’t want to blame you for my pain and I certainly couldn’t bear to give up on you. I did not want you to see what having you had done to me but the piercing pain often blinded me to all the joy that you brought me. We made it somehow; that is one of the reasons I am certain that God ordained you for me. We have stumbled and fallen so many times since but because of that gut wrenching experience, we were able to learn to celebrate our scars and all the battles they represent. I want you to know, how sorry I am, from the bottom of my heart, for the times that I have looked the other way, for the moments when I was too weak to fight back. I am a work in progress but I am glad that we have experienced all of it together. In future, I know you will remind me that we are more than conquerors, whenever I forget.

I am now just a few years shy of the big 30 and it is as scary as it is exciting. We started out young, I could never have imagined the responsibility that came with the decision I made but time has flown by so fast and I must admit, you continue to surprise me. Do you know how many times I have been asked when I will get you a little sister or brother? Some people are subtle but most (especially elders) are blunt with no remorse. I often have a comeback, but sometimes I just let them be, you know? I am sure by now you know that your mommy can be stubborn and you have taken after her in some ways. You also know that we serve a faithful God and his timing is always perfect. As the years go by, I think about it, more; our family and what it shall look like, how far you will be when the next angel comes into our lives and whether or not the many helping hands that raised you will groom you into adulthood. These thoughts do keep me up at night once in a while, but thankfully, when my human self has over analysed that which it has no control over,it finally gives in to HE who is omniscient who’ll certainly take care of things.

Today marks the continuation of a journey we began 4 years ago during this beautiful season of lent. You have taught me so much! I am stronger and wiser,happier and more fulfilled than I ever imagined. Who knows where I would be without you?

Thank you for your patience and resilience, for your vulnerability and strength, for the chances you took and the dreams you allowed us to chase; Thank you for bringing people together from far and wide, and giving them a chance to give whatever they could offer.Thank you for being flexible, for surviving even when you had nothing and somehow managing to blossom against all odds. You are truly a miracle!

I hope that I have been as kind to you, as you have to me. I pray that I will not let you down and that our fire will continue to burn bright through every storm that comes our way. Years from now when all that we have gone through is a memory, may you look back with a smile, knowing everything I did, every experience, was a reflection of love and all the emotions it comes with.

I haven’t figured out how to commemorate today and I may not even do anything significant to the untrained eye, but in my heart and soul, I celebrate you everyday and look forward to the rest of our lives together.May God continue to be at the centre of your life, and may you always look to him.

pic

With love from the one whom you knew first, the one who will choose you every time,

me.

Xx

 

On green grass..

 

I met Doreen at a birthday party recently. We had not spoken in a long time so I chose to walk with her when she decided to leave. She had updated me on the progress she was making over time and I was impressed. Not only was she rising up to senior management at her day job, she was also running a successful side business. Doreen and her brother were in the process of building their mom a house, a development I had only learnt of that night.

When we got to her car, I expressed my admiration for her as an ‘independent woman.’ I told her I could only imagine how difficult it was for her to get to where she was even if I wasn’t privy to the back story.

The turn this conversation took left me flabbergasted, to say the least. “How can you pretend that you applaud my work yet you are the one who is successful? I see you in the papers at work, on facebook when I log onto my computer and then again on t.v when I get home.”
It took me about 10 seconds to pick my jaw up from the ground and another 30 to compose myself. She had blurted out this unexpected response without so much as minimal acknowledgment of the compliment(s) she had received.

In that moment, I wanted to say a quick good night and return to the party. At the same time, I needed to explain a few things about life to this woman. I chose the latter.

I shall use two of the relevant dictionary definitions for success that I found; “The accomplishment of an aim or purpose.”
“The attainment of fame, wealth or social status.”
I believe each of us consciously or sub consciously has an idea of what success means to them.

I urge you to take a minute to think  about what your definition of success is.

Now, if that is done;imagine a world in which there was no society to ‘tell you’ what to do, peers to ‘compete’ with or people to impress. If you had to only make yourself ‘happy,’ would that still be your definition or would you alter it a bit?

As I write this, I am reminded of Mrs. Bucket(pronounced Bouquet) and her antics in the sitcom “Keeping up appearances.” While it was funny, it is sad that many of us spend our lives like this woman who did everything to ooze class and wealth despite the reality of her less than royal lifestyle.

bucket 1

 

bucket 2

As if our spines were not already fickle enough, the emergence of social media has made it that much more difficult for (especially) young people to water their grass diligently. You need not look too far to find the ‘greener grass’ that shall keep you up at night if you so choose. Photo of a new car on Instagram followed by a long mushy post complete with the picture of a huge diamond ring on perfectly manicured nails when you cross over to Facebook. You think you have had enough so you run to whatsapp  for the silly jokes. Alas, everyone in your group chat is congratulating your friend upon her first class Master’s degree, in engineering no less. Will you ever catch a break?

The answer is no. For as long as you don’t learn to appreciate what you have and be happy for others, yours shall be a long life of dissatisfaction.

At the end of the day, we are all human beings, undergoing human experiences.

Joan got married to a ‘successful’ man whom her father approved of and their marriage lasted all of 2 years. She is a divorced single mother at 26.Mark and Becky have been in a relationship for 10 years. It is now a long standing joke that they should not get married lest they ‘mess it up.’

Julius works for a multinational company, great salary, big car with a chauffeur, allowances you can only dream of; but he tells me he has never felt so useless in his life. Basically his job is being done by him and 5 others. Joe, on the other hand has a start up that essentially provides rent, food, transport and the occasional drink. He boasts that he has found meaning in his life but if in 3 years things stay the same, he’ll flee.

Lisa’s son, Max is a product of a one night stand. After a life of having everything handed to her on a silver platter, he was her first real reality check. Her parents disowned her and she has no contact with her son’s father. Nonetheless, she quickly learnt to ‘hustle’ and discovered talents she did not even know she had. She is now an interior designer and almost-full-time mom who manages her own time and schedule. This little boy was once described as a mistake but he gave her a new lease on life. In fact, he saved her.

The list goes on and on. I am sure you and many people you know are living a life completely different from the one they or their parents had for them. That’s just how it is.

Imagine your life and its complexities, from the day you were born. Now, what makes you think that person who is ‘better than you’ has no challenges? They do, you may just never see them; just like not everyone who ‘knows’ you has heard the story of how you went hungry and slept on the floor when you hit rock bottom.

I think it is healthy to look over the fence once in a while and say hello to the neighbour, even help him carry his groceries. As long as when you get home, your conversation isn’t “I wonder whom Jack had to rob to build such a house” but rather “Honey, we are blessed to have such a good life and we should keep working hard to make it even better for the kids,”

X

My kind of Christmas

At last year’s children’s Christmas party, I was a little grenade. Bandaged cannula on one hand and dancing like I was being paid on the other. There is a video of us showing you how to ‘go down low’ (Hi Sheeba) hidden somewhere. After the party, I went to the hospital for a ‘routine drip’ and ended up spending the night. By my side were 5 of my closest friends who took turns watching me. I thought about it, and if God forbid anything had happened that night, I would still be happy. I would know I gave 120% to something I loved and had people with me who loved me too.

I honestly believe some of these incidents occur so that I can never forget where it is I have come from.

This year, my anticipation was twice as much. I barely slept the night before the party. We were opening a dormitory too! Yaay!

Fundraising for this second dormitory was not a walk in the park. How could we explain to ourselves that we managed to raise funds for a bigger, more expensive building but were failing at this one? It was not easy to deal with the pressure, internal and external.

.After several events and campaigns, we had meetings in which we would just whine or discuss every other matter but the elephant in the room. We were afraid to admit that we had not raised enough money and time was running out

. At the same time, the rain was destroying our building materials back in Bombo. Each time a phone call or text came in asking if any money would be sent ‘soon,’ the day became instantly miserable. I can relate it to a parent who fails to provide for their children and is unable to explain the circumstances.

Despite all this, we did it…yes WE, collectively, with friends and supporters from all over the place 🙂 *jumps*

On Saturday 12th December 2015, we unveiled this new home for 30 girls. Excitement filled the coaster as we headed to Bombo and upon arrival, we truly felt the reason for this season.

dorm view

 

dorm main

dance

 

I could not contain my heart when these little ones performed and threw a few thank yous into their performance

 

little ones,thank you

As if that was not enough, the older children had prepared a short play. It depicted the story of orphans and street children who were sworn to a life of suffering. After a while, one of them suggests that they get up and ‘cross the bridge’ to find a better life. Their first attempts are futile. That is until they get help from good Samaritans. Do you want to guess who those are? There was a happy ending as they chanted “We crossed the bridge!!!” <Where is the water from my keyboard coming from?>

play sad

 

play 4040

play smiles

From the food, to the performances; gift opening and cake, I could not have asked for a better Christmas gift.

One of the girls, Laila shared her joy with me. “ I am happy I shall sleep on a new pair of bed sheets, a new mattress, in a new dormitory.” I could feel the delight in every syllable.

santa helper

All some of these children asked for was undergarments. Things we found waiting for us in this world and can hardly relate to that kind of deprivation.

dorm christmas gifts

We ended the day with a serious dance party in which some people I shall not name and I were floored beyond recognition. It is safe to say that dance moves have evolved and our bones have aged kubanga the hustle was very real! It took some people two seconds to ‘get down’ and others almost a minute.

dorm cake

 

dorm

 

 

baloon burst

Builder

smiley face

joy

 

25th December is 8 days away and I am lucky enough to have a family to spend it with. While God blessed me with a beautiful family that I was born into, I am mighty glad he gave me a bigger one through the 4040 dream. I am much more because of all the experiences.

 

with team

 

group smiles

Every day, every month, every year, I am thankful for each one of you who has given their time, money, prayers, and other resources to ensure that we are still here.

I celebrate you.

photo selfie

Photo Credit: Phame

A very Merry Christmas to you and yours..and for 2016, tukikole neera…neera neera.

 

XX

Still on that journey…

It is about two years since I told my not so surprised boss I was leaving my job to chase a dream. He was very supportive, and to date, I think he is one of the most incredible people I have worked with.
This month is always one of great self-reflection for me. At first it was because it was my birth month, but now, it is also a reminder of the fact that I am really an adult. Really!

2 years
Here are a few bits and pieces of this experience.
Mixing business with pleasure
I never had a choice really. I did not know where 4040 was going and as such, I started with the low handing fruits, my friends. Along the way, others joined and also became family. It is fun. It is difficult. It is exasperating. It is love. I would actually not advise anyone to go into business with their friends. It is not for the faint hearted. In my case, however, I am not sure ‘robots’ looking forward to their next pay cheque would have driven the organisation to where it is today. Ours is a unique blend. We have won some and lost some. Along the way, there is a glue that has kept us (mostly) together. I can hardly find the words to describe that glue. We are often our own greatest strength and weakness. It is an oxymoron really but we own it.
Of uniqueness
I try to learn from as many organisations and people about different things. Management, organisational structures, charity, business and the like. I am yet to find anyone doing ‘exactly’ what we do. This means we are often inventing a wheel. It can be quite challenging but perhaps a decade or two from now, there will be mini organisations learning from our struggle. Wouldn’t that be awesome?
Bagala alina, gende okole (Loosely translated to mean, people like those who have, go and work)
I met Linda last year through a mutual friend who thought it would be great if we worked together. She was disinterested and it showed on her face. Nonetheless, I later sent her a message about future correspondence and possible partnerships. She did not respond. Last month Linda called me for an ‘urgent meeting.’ I was a bit shocked but my gut told me she wanted something. I agreed to meet her. She started by asking several questions about the organisation and I kept thinking “When will she tell me why she actually called me here.” Though shielded, it finally came out. She had seen a picture of us receiving an award from the first lady. I was finally worth something! It turned out she needed help with an upcoming project and thought I’s be the right person to consult. Yes, this is the point where you become the bigger person, even if it kills you.
Disguised lessons
About a year before I started 4040, a friend from school came up with a business plan. It was a great idea but from the onset, it showed that it would take a while to pick up. When it did, however, it would soar. I honestly supported him simply because he was my friend. He had a graphics person, a numbers person, I would be part of the PR. It was pretty solid. We met every week and contributed an amount to the company’s fund. His closest friends often missed these meetings and had a general aura of laxity but I believed in him, along with a mutual friend. I believe he and I did one pitch before the company dissolved without so much as an explanation. I guess it wasn’t its time. He is doing quite well for himself now. Sometimes, I sit and wonder if I would be this dedicated to something someone else began. I remember that experience and realise that I gave it my all even when I had no idea where it was going. How dare I give up on this baby then? It came with its own lessons.
Letting go
I am a hopeless optimist, often to a fault. This means that I give several chances to people and situations because I envision a happy ending. Needless to say, life does not always operate like that.
As a result, I have had to learn to let go, even if it may not come naturally. I have watched the people closest to me betray my trust and the most distant of strangers hold my hand when it counted. If like me, you have let some people stay in your life longer than you should only for them to steal your happiness, don’t beat yourself up about it. I shall tell you from experience that it takes time to ‘change’ but once you do, it comes with great benefits. In the meantime, treat every loss as an experience worth learning from. It really is.
A promise is just that, a promise.
Have you ever lent someone money? They tell you they shall pay on Wednesday so you mentally plan for all the things you have to do on that day. In fact, you probably also promise another person you will pay their hospital bill on D-day because you are sure. Wednesday reaches and the debtor is nowhere to be seen. If you are lucky, they shall pick up the phone and feed you with a story. You are disappointed but you have to disappoint someone else. It is a mess.
In our line of work, people will make pledges, often out of pity, guilt, pretentiousness and a host of other sentiments I fail to explain. Back in the day, (adult speak yo) thee pledges counted as a reality for me. I’d start making plans based on those numbers. Shock! Horror! Coming to the realisation that most of them were simply promise that may never be fulfilled. I was ‘bitten’ enough. I try to treat everything as a miracle and leave a nice, spacious red margin for disappointment. This does not mean you become 100% numb of course….but it helps.
Speaking of  differences..
My friends and I attended an event recently. We were excited to support this group of youths since we are all in the ‘struggle’ together. We arrived early and got ourselves a nice corner to make noise in comfort. Imagine our shock when one of the organisers came to ask us to move. Turns out the nice corner was for sponsors. The problem was there was no ‘reserved’ sign or anything so we couldn’t have known. We grudgingly carried our drinks to another table. Just as the ranting began, something occurred to me. Simply because we do not have VIP seats at our events, we had forgotten that it is the norm for most events. We made the best of the night anyway.
Humility
I am constantly praying that we remain humble in our ways. Several experiences remind me ever so powerfully, how easy it is to forget.

crying Janet
I look at this photograph from time to time. It reminds me of everything I felt from the very core of my soul. It represents several feelings engulfed into one moment. I wept with reckless abandon, oblivious of the cameras. This journey is not about the photo ops or the perfect make up, it is not about how many people recognise you on the street or which media house covers the story. It is about the work and the people it impacts. Everything else is a plus. Unfortunately, the side shows can get to one’s head, so much they forget what it is really about.
On Leadership
I do not consider myself a natural leader, more like an accidental one. There are people who have it engrained in their DNA, you know?  I am not one of them. People have these ambitions all their lives, I didn’t. Here I am though. I don’t always do it right. Half the time, I am thinking with my heart instead of my brain. The other half finds me clueless trying to figure things out. I am surrounded by amazing people though. We are learning and sailing. As long as we continue, it can only get better.
You are only human
If you are in a position of leadership, planned or accidental, remind yourself that you are not God. You can make mistakes. You are allowed to cry. You will inadvertently yell at a colleague. It happens. Forgive yourself then do that which you were called to do.
Protecting your brand

Do your best to protect your brand, but understand that somethings are not in your control.
Early this year a tabloid picked up a story on social media that involved 4040. They called me for a comment on a Sunday. I declined. The next day, it was on their front page and I had a paragraph on page 2. Knowing the story was going to run kept me at night. I stressed my poor mother to the extent she bought the paper by 7a.m the next day. The reporter had not even attended the event. I know people say that any sort of publicity is good but tabloids irk me. They make sales out of people’s misery and sadly, the readers continue to ensure they are profitable. I would love for our work to speak for itself. No publicity is actually better than those media houses that make it their life’s purpose to peddle lies. Argh. Moving on…
Rome was not built in a day
Four years ago, 4040 was not anywhere in my 5 year plan. According to my version of dreams, I am supposed to have started a family. If you think about it, I already did, just not the kind I had in mind 🙂 When you meet people, they have several questions, numbers, sustainability, the future. Gosh, it is all there! They are valid questions too. I don’t think there is anyone who contemplates all these issues more than I do, almost daily. There are moments when I am worried about all this and more but I remind myself that this is not about me. It is a grander picture and sometimes you need to be still. Nothing I have accomplished has been on my own accord, none of our milestones were a result of an extraordinary mind in a single day. It has been a process and will continue to be. Always allow yourself to breathe, to grow, to just be.
Criticism
I keep thinking I have heard it all, and then something new comes up. I convince myself words can’t bring me down but the truth is, some will. You just need to decide who or what is worth your pain.  Some of this criticism is helpful. A good chunk is simply disgraceful.A clear conscience is incomparable, listen to it.

I have learnt plenty over this period and something tells me, it isn’t even 20%. I am ever so grateful for the wonderful people who have made this journey worthwhile. More importantly, I am awed by the fact that God chose me to be his vessel and then blessed this dream in unimaginable ways.
P.S: Join us for our inaugural event, Hoops for grace this Saturday from 9 a.m. Entrance is only 5,000 and there is fun for kids and adults alike. Let’s complete this dormitory! See you 🙂

 

Hoops 2015 poster

Ode to my sunflower

Somebody new is in your room. It feels wrong. It is like somebody moved the furniture and I hit my head against a closet that wasn’t where it used to be. Will I like her? Will she like me? Shall we get along?
Let’s face it. There will never be another you.
Oh my sunflower! I found a piece I wrote about you two years ago here. Still, it feel like it was only yesterday!
On Thursday you told me you would leave on Sunday. You promised to call and visit despite the distance. I asked if you were happy. You replied. “Ye, Essie. Leka ngende mpumulemu.” (Yes Essie, let me go and rest)
I walked away with a choking feeling in my throat. Was this really goodbye?
I would love for your new business to succeed, for you to fall in love, have some mini yous running around. I wish for you only happiness and bountiful love.

Of course I did not think you would stay forever, but the reality hits that much harder you know.
Thank you for listening when I needed someone to rant to. Sometimes you asked why ‘Liz stopped visiting’ and I would tell you she did something nasty. Then you would tell me all the mannerisms you had noticed, such great discernment.
We used to agree on which stories would break mom’s heart and why we should not tell her. Surely, there’s no denying that you grew into a lovely sister.
The gifts and your sneaky ways. The ‘wise men’ who wanted to surprise me needed to speak to you nicely. We would be together and you would get a phone call and walk away. Some minutes later, you would arrive with a bouquet of flowers or a gift. Ever so devious!

Last year on the eve of my birthday, I was duped into a dinner..only for two friends to leave early for ‘other commitments.’ It was on the morning of my birthday that I realised what had happened. I found a breakfast table full of gifts and cake. Of course! It all made sense. I felt like a little girl on Christmas morning (of bulaya definitely) as I opened each gift. I don’t remember eating. In fact I turned down evening plans that day so I could just sit in my room and thank the Lord for my amazing family and friends. You were part of a beautiful memory, you often were.
When I didn’t pick my phone up and my friends suspected I was home. They immediately called you. They didn’t want to hear about my ‘phone is always in silent mode’ nonsense. Goodness, what shall we all do without you?
Just a few weeks ago I was extremely sick and just as weak but still trying to play superwoman. You ordered me into the bathroom, warmed some water and gave me a thorough scrub. Surely, you understand how difficult this is?
Every morning for as long as I can remember, you have been the first face as I see. The first ‘wasuze outya?’and ever since I started dealing with insomnia, after asking how I slept, you quickly asked if I actually slept.

At night, you sometimes sat with me and dozed off as I had a late supper. I’d tell you to go to bed and you would assure me how you are awake. Seriously, there’s a drug in that television that puts people to sleep. These little things meant the world.
You always cooked a hearty breakfast when you knew I hadn’t eaten the night before..gave me options when my stomach played tricks. You understood my love for tea, like no other. Some days you asked if I wanted another cup <at an odd hour> and I always responded the same way. “When have I ever said no to tea?” You made mandazi for us and by us, I mean family, 4040 meetings, the kids breakfasts. Name it. Surely you are already a mother simply waiting for a child.
Speaking of 4040. Gosh the errands you have had to carry out! You were a member of the team in every sense of the word. Helping me pack and unpack a host of items before and after or events, helping me sneak out mum’s flasks full of tea and dishes for our strategy meetings, (even if we were often caught) listening to our grand plans, hearing about most of the issues that I could explain and advising, buying some of the items we sold to raise money. I really could go on. This meant a lot.
The way you spoilt my siblings, folks and I shall definitely stay with us for a long time if not forever. To be honest I only vaguely remember my childhood nannies, if at all. Perhaps it’s because I met you when I was already a teen, heavily enhanced by your beautiful heart. You are my favourite and that is putting it mildly.
Did I mention your constant faith and prayer that held me steadfast in the belief that everything would work out? I constantly shared my testimonies with you because I knew you would get it.
On Saturday night, mom and I handed you our gifts and said our goodbyes amidst sobs. When you noticed the awkward silence that followed, you go down on your knees and said a beautiful prayer in Runyoro..oh it was like music!
On Sunday I escorted you to your brother’s home and we chatted some more. It was like I was giving my sister away to another family..but then again, you are our family, his, bound by blood and us by love.
I know mum and I (mostly) will miss you greatly, as will everyone else who encountered your soul through us. I mean it’s been almost a decade! I know that somehow, we shall be okay.
I am going to do a few things in your honour that I will tell you about when the time comes.
For now though, may my beautiful sunflower, Monica only continue to blossom.

sunflower
XX