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.



Goodbye. No. See you later

On Easter Monday, we sat in a circle at a friend’s home. We each took turns  to say what we were grateful for from the past year. 40-40 was celebrating two years and the team had an opportunity to reflect on the good, bad and ugly of the past months but with more emphasis on the awesome 🙂


Some people gave testimonies of how  40-40 had opened doors for jobs, great networks and even love interests *wink*

This calm soul started to speak and suddenly the silly jokes and anecdotes stopped. The room went silent as we listened and I am sure, even inwardly wept because her testimony was not only moving, it also left us reflecting deeper on our lives. I will call her ‘Angel.’

As Angel concluded, she let us know she had applied for a Master’s scholarship that would commence later in the year. She hoped that she would return and work with 40-40 after attaining knowledge in a field relevant to our work. In that moment, I knew then that she would definitely get it. Some things you just know, you know?

Fast forward to this month, Angel has gone through different kinds of emotions as her simple dream took all sorts of twists and turns. Her faith was tried and tested countless times but she was not only resilient through it all, she was also extremely humble.

By last week she had been denied a visa. A planned surprise farewell party was a complete fail as the cake arrived in the absence of its ‘chief cutter’ (What does that even mean?) It was nothing short of depressing but not once did I hear phrases like “I give up” or “Why me?”

These, in fact, were her exact words “If this is supposed to turn me away from God, failed plot”

commit to him

By this week she had been called back to ‘re-evaluate’ her application and as I type this she is probably packing as many memories as she can into her suit case 🙂

As we bade her farewell last night, we had a chance to share some thoughts. It was quite clear that as a team we were ‘losing’ (more like lending the world) a free spirit who not only got the work done, but did it gracefully.

If I was a C.E.O of a big corporation bidding farewell to a valuable employee, I would practically be seeing the millions of dollars that Angel will make for the next company. However, I am left in awe. I am confident that she will shine as much as she did here, if not more. I am hopeful that the rest of the team shall emulate her and that we can also leave a mark not only on the lives of the children we work with but also on everyone we meet. That is what it means to ” Be The Change”…No?

Dear Angel, from us at team 40-40, it is see you later and a bucketful of love and good wishes (plus throat aches and oba broken hearts too? 😉 )

We can’t possibly express our joy or pride but we are certainly behind you 110%.