Blueberry cupcake

It is one of those weekends that doesn’t seem like one. It is quiet and the air is heavy. Today’s weather is actually not bad, Linda took a walk without a shawl, gloves or hat and it was okay. Still, something just doesn’t feel right.

It’s been like this since Wednesday evening. After a fascinating lecture led by a charismatic woman, Linda was surprised to get to her residence with a sudden wave of gloom. What had changed?

Do you ever get that feeling like something bad is about to happen and you don’t know what it is but the pressure is so strong? That’s what she felt. She thought it could have been because elections were the next day back in Uganda, but she could not confirm it. Instead, she prayed and went to bed earlier than usual.

She started to regret her decision to get off social media as the days went by, she needed to know what was going on. Linda had gone to church at the beginning of lent after she resolved to get onto social media only once a week. She’d thought she would check on a day with no activity, preferably a weekend to make her intention more ‘valid.’ However, something happened that she just couldn’t explain.  By the time she got home, the new plan was to go all out. As election week began, the urge grew stronger. It did not help that her classmates were making reference to different online activity. Her class even had references on twitter but she chose to stick to her decision, despite the temptation.

Yesterday’s class introduced the concept of posthumanism that was interlinked with human’s co-existence with technology. Some students admitted they could not live without their phones or social media and she could only grin, she still had over a month to go.  Since she had began this phase, her journal got more pages filled and the mind worked in overtime.  After realising one of the things she missed the most was Humans of New York,’ it hit her, albeit late, that besides just facebook, there was a website she could follow! That would be a good distraction from all the worry she was desperately trying to fight.

You know what else helps? Cake! After a few errands this morning, Linda chanced upon a cupcake stall. There were at least 50 flavours to choose from. That should be a good thing, except she simply stood helplessly unable to make up her mind. Finally, she settled for a blueberry cupcake. Unlike most Londoners who have no qualms about walking while eating, anywhere and everywhere, she saved her treat for when she got back to the room.

A cup of caramel flavoured tea was poured and then it was time to devour the cupcake. It is true what they say about good things coming in the smallest packages because Linda’s only trouble with it was that it ‘disappeared’ too fast.

bluebery cup cake

Perhaps, like Linda, you are in some sort of turmoil, mind, body or soul, maybe even, all the above. Find a little something to do just for you or someone else. If it is the only smile that you can afford, that’s better than none at all.

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Step by step

Recently the 40 40 team and I had an opportunity to spread the word about our cause and sell some of our branded merchandise that helps us raise funds.

It was one of the most difficult crowds we have had to deal with.

Below I share some of the highlights and ‘low lights’ of the evening.

Team work

I got there a bit early and didn’t see any face I recognised so I started to make some calls.

In a short time, I had the merchandise delivered, found the table we were to use and was joined by a friend to help with the set up. Company just makes t all a little easier.

Good Samaritans

The sun was blazing and if you have been in Kampala lately, you know that is a bit of an understatement.

My friend and I camped under a tent with some ‘strangers’ and tried to get comfortable.

Before long we were joined by some familiar faces. In a short while, we had a gazebo lent to us and could start to set up with some smiles.

We hadn’t carried our banner but when a Good Samaritan gave us some manila, we improvised. It was given a personal touch with….*guess what*….lipstick! Cool friends, yes? Yes.

Panic

When we thought we were ‘ready,’ some of the merchandise mysteriously disappeared. Thorough searches and a police dog later and voila- the badges, mirrors and wristbands re-appeared! Phew

Bloopers

This is the ‘fun’ part. We tried to attract as many people as we could to our table as they passed by or generally share info about the cause. Some were polite, others…not so much.

  • This gentleman walks towards our table at a point when sales were pretty low; serious face, wearing spects and looking pretty sure.  We immediately prepare ‘the speech.’ He leans over and asks “Where is the bathroom?”  It was so sad and extremely funny.
  • This other not-so-gentleman came by and picked a badge. We told him it was 4,000 shillings. He threw it and mumbled ‘I thought it was free.’ Believe it or not, several other people thought like him or at least pretended to.
  • Two members of my team were engaged in a conversation when I noticed two guys peeking over them. I sent them away, told them to find someplace else to talk. They obliged. Then the ‘customers’ asked  “Is this where we buy the cocktails?” Hahaha, really? Right behind the t.shirts and wristbands, we were mixing cocktails according to these guys?

Not over yet

Just when I thought we had seen it all. Someone I shall call Peter came over to our table. He seemed to be tipsy, with a lot to get off his chest.

I began to tell him what we had on offer and that is when the outburst began. “You must be millionaires by now. How did you even manage to get into this event? You are such a business woman Esther.”

Me: Uhm, all the proceeds go to charity, We simply wanted to reach more people.

Peter: Shya, you are just getting rich. I heard you built a hostel and are now building classrooms.

People take years to do those things and you have done it in such a short time. Do you expect me to believe you?

At this point I realised defending myself wouldn’t help.  I simply listened and tried to smile.

His banter lasted longer than I wished. When he left, another member of the team told me she knew him from a past event. He had given her trouble because he didn’t want to pay the 3,000 UGX entrance fee and kept swearing unnecessarily.

I am not sure if this made me feel better or sorrier for him.

At the end of it all, this evening had so many lessons for us to learn from.

I was particularly pleased with the team effort and how everyone withstood the tough crowd to actually make sales and network while remaining pleasant through it all.

We exited after midnight but the learning shall probably go on for a lifetime.

step

 

 

The Pressure!

I went for a job interview once. Years later, I happened to get access to the evaluation form that had been used as I spoke.

I had scored highly on confidence. I laughed so hard! How was that even possible?! I had been a total nervous wreck. All my clothes looked like rugs, my vocabulary was at 2 on a scale of 1-10 and my heartbeat could have been at the level of a marathon runner. Somehow the facade worked.

Fast forward to this week, I am supposed to receive a Young Achiever’s Award, “Heroine of the Year.”

It is an honour I couldn’t have foreseen at the beginning of this year or even dreamed of.

When I checked for the dictionary definition of ‘hero,’ this is what I found “a person, typically a man, who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.

For a heroine, it applies and just changes to ‘woman.’ Who am I that I should be considered one?

40-40 first got honoured by the Rotaract Club of Kampala South in October this year, we went on to win a Social Media Award last month. As if these pleasant surprises weren’t enough, there is one more in store just as the year ends.

This week’s award shall be an opportunity for my team to get great exposure and possibly have more ‘influential’ people listening and joining in. I am excited at this prospect but shaking like a leaf at the thought of that large audience. Woah!! :O

Despite the fact that I have known about this day for several weeks, it is still surreal. I have been getting nightmares even during the day and it doesn’t help that these past couple of weeks have been extremely trying.

The obvious thing is that I am being given an opportunity to speak about something I am passionate about, that is my life, not some random theory that a genius came up with hundreds of years ago. This should make it easier, right? WRONG! The pressure is even rising with each letter I type here.

For fear of sounding like a drama queen, I shall henceforth compose myself. If we meet and I can only nod or shake my head, just go with it. I have warned you.

Did I mention the cold that decided to attack last night? As in on top of tripping at the Serena, stuttering as I pronounce the dignitaries names, now other thoughts of ‘achhhooo’ after every sentence have began to fill my imagination. Over 600 people shall see this, in 5D :O. Isn’t life grand?

nervous

Drama aside, I have only ever attended one ‘Young Achievers’ event. It was three years ago and I got an invite for my friend and I from a pal who was part of the organising committee.

The event was so big; we barely saw or heard anyone. Instead we chatted and giggled for the most part of the night. I remember clapping for a few winners and when my friend was commended for assisting the team. The rest is a blur.

Everyone left with a ‘Young Achievers Awards’ bag and a magazine among other things. I have used that bag to carry snacks to work and sometimes a laptop or reading material since then.

It only occurred to me recently that this bag is actually symbolic of a dream that I never even dreamed coming true.

Whereas I am still overwhelmed by “Heroine of the Year ,”title  and everything it represents, I am also honoured that anyone would think of me this way, let alone have an award dedicated to this sentiment.

However, one of the most puzzling bits of this state of affairs is the fact that I am convinced what the team and I are doing isn’t extraordinary. Not only did Jesus teach us to love our neighbours as we love ourselves, it should also be natural that as human beings we look out for each other because we are ‘One.’ Notwithstanding belief in God, race,tribe,level of income or any other ‘barriers.’

Our successful events, accolades and attention are just an added part of the package but really all we are doing is fulfilling our purpose, as we should.

That said, I am extremely proud to represent 40 days over 40 smiles, this award is acknowledgement of all your hard work and perseverance plus proof that HE who started a good work in you shall surely see it to the very end. You chose to join a good fight without any coercion and have remained vigilant despite all the toils and snares. I need you to always remember that I am eternally grateful for each prayer, helping hand or donation; the team’s long days and nights when we have an event, never ending meetings and constant call for sacrifice; everyone who has followed or supported in any way. It is not something I take for granted.

To my amazing family and friends who have accepted to dream and believe with me, I can’t even begin to try and repay you for I shall fail miserably.

To the organisers of the Young Achievers Awards, thank you for the recognition, not just of our work but youth in Uganda generally. It is no secret that our time is now, and we need every platform we can get.

To the Lord, the author of it all, we can only try to ensure we colour your pages with grace.

In case you hadn’t noticed, this is my feeble attempt at some closing remarks so that if I am dumbfounded on D-day, you can refer to this blog post 😉

Bless you!

BE Santa this Christmas

Every year, 40-40 has both an Easter and Christmas drive to make these days more special for disadvantaged children in the country.

These young people(40-40)  are even cooler because they make other ordinary days special too but you know, these just stand out more 😉

A few months ago we embarked on a project to build a dormitory at Happy Times Junior School, Luweero. It seemed like an impossible task at first but well….See what we had to do;

Ninjas be like

Ninjas be like

After all that,this is what came out of it….Not to say I built alone, but just leave me to have my building moment of fame, thanks 😀

Dorm-

So we were like ‘WOOOOOPPPP!’, Dreams come true!Let’s finish this by end of December and then we can begin on a clean slate next year.

We can’t do it alone. This is where you come in.

#BuyABrick and #BuyABag raised 10 million shillings in 12 days and gave us so much hope. This time after 8 days, we don’t even have 1,000,000 shillings 😦

It is not about the money by the way, it is about the hope, the promise, the joy when we realise this dream and  this building that can be a home to over 200 children.

What do we need? Well, I am glad you asked. 😀

Item Quantity Price Total
Doors 4 300,000 1,200,000
Windows 10 250,000 2,500,000
Concrete Stones 5 Trips 120,000 600,000
Sand 16 Trips 50,000 800,000
Cement 80 bags 26,000 2,080,000
Glasses (Windows) 400,000 400,000
Paint 12 Jerrycans 1,200,000
Labour 2, 000,000
Total     10, 780,000

We have to throw a massive party for the kids this Saturday and plan for logistics so that brings our target to about 13 million shillings.

If you can get the actual materials, we shall be amazed as well. Feel free to contact us on facebook, twitter or numbers 0777499991/0773152701.

Most importantly, we would love it if you joined us. Your time is the most important resource you can ‘donate.’

Meanwhile, this post wasn’t meant to ‘beg,’ its real purpose is to represent the before and after. Today I am ‘weeping’ because the campaign is so slow but at the end of it all, I shall have a testimony! We all shall.

Find us at Kyadondo Rugby Club during Power Fm’s ‘Phatfest’ on Friday and then  join us Saturday for a Christmas party with the kids in Luweero.

It is going to be one big celebration I tell you! Can’t wait!!! 🙂

See you before and after we have our complete dormitory and a generation of change agents!!

This is how to join in

This is how to join in

Merry Christmas 🙂

Life; Live it-Love it!

I once watched an episode of Grey’s anatomy in which a patient was diagnosed with lung cancer.
She was  against the idea of surgery because she was scared of death.
That was not all, however,she had spent her entire life trying to do right, follow the rules, be good. She had never smoked nor sipped an alcoholic beverage and yet here she was, battling lung cancer.

The possibility of death made her realise she needed to ‘live more.’ She began to eat a lot of junk, drink herself silly and slept with a stranger, among other things, to make up for the years she ‘lost.’

Whereas I have lived a life I am mostly happy with, I could relate with this feeling. *Never mind that she was a fictional character, blonde and what not*

Just this weekend I wished I was an alcoholic or at least a social drinker. I needed a ‘quick fix’ to the disappointment and pain that lurked within my heart. Perhaps a few drinks would give me the ‘forced joy’ I badly needed. However, when you have a conscience as loud as mine, you think about these things, maybe even say them out loud, then you take a bath and go to bed.

“Don’t you ever get the feeling that all your life is going by and you’re not taking advantage of it? Do you realize you’ve lived nearly half the time you have to live already?” 

You do know what I mean, right? Sometimes you think; ‘There’s gotta be more to life.’ Of course each action has its repercussions but hey, if it is for the right reasons, I guess it is worth a try.

I have been thinking a lot about all the things I have always wanted to do whether simply for fun,adventure or outright curiosity. I can start to consciously ‘chase’ each of those in my power. Why? Because no one else will do it for me.

“…No– but ours is a journey into ourselves, a walk with God every day! Ours is a book that we write, a smile, a love, a tear, a lust, an awakening, a learning, a joy, a laughter, a memory, a dream, a vision, a love, a love, a love and a love. Our life is now. And Heaven is always there, but this life isn’t always there, but this life isn’t always here. Heaven is always there for us but this life is a gift to us!

When I quit my job three months ago, I completely had no plan. I mentally gave myself till December to decide what I wanted to do with my life. It was a bold and perhaps stupid move, but it was my decision.

I have always believed in making my own mistakes. For example, I would rather get a job on my own where I am paid peanuts, rather than have a hook up by a brother to my friend’s dad. In the event that I mess up, or excel for that matter, the boss should be able to blame/praise me not whoever was the middle man.

It was this conviction that made it easy for me to respond adequately when ‘concerned parties’ asked “What next, How can you quit without a plan?” and other related queries. Those who understood, however, knew that for me to walk away from something, I must have good reason.

I digress.

All these months later, I have managed to somehow survive. I am pretty sure if I put my mind to it, I can last several more months.

My point? If you have an option, do not stay in an unhappy relationship, sad work place or failing business. Work towards a plan to walk out, to survive after you move on, to be happy with your choice, and ensure the life you are living is yours; not so  your spouse, boss or family can be happy but so you can be happy.

Everyday really is an opportunity to start over.

“Existing is going through the motions of life with no zeal and feeling you have no control; living means embracing all that this large world has to offer and not being afraid to take chances. The beauty of living is knowing you can always start over and there’s always a chance for something better.”

I have a list of those things I want to do, some have timelines others don’t. In case yours is somewhere at the back of the mind, try and write/type it out.  Tell a close friend or two. Once you are done, begin to organise it; what can be done now, what should wait, which one needs savings, company etc. It helps.

I will use an example from my life. This year I did not make resolutions, just a few goals and promises to myself.

Not all of them became reality but some did plus I have one month to tray and fulfill the rest.

I love to travel, I have several dream destinations. I ‘live them’ through photographs, movies or my friends who have been there. Maybe I will visit them one day, maybe I won’t but in the mean time, why not tour my very own Uganda?

It is as easy as navigating google, having a few conversations or even reading travel pieces/guides.

This year I have taken a few mini holidays on a tight budget. Even after everyone said Gulu was such an expensive town, I found my unemployed self managing to stay over for several days and not being imprisoned for failing to pay for drinks and a meal.

There have been weekend getaways with friends to Jinja and Entebbe, oh plus Bule island off Ggaba. Small and affordable but they brought me so much joy.

I know people who earn three times what I used to earn that are envious when I share tales of these escapades. This is simply because they have not tried.

Some individuals and companies have made it their business to make travelling a whole lot more convenient and accessible in and around Uganda. See Sabili and Roundbob. These are just the ones I know.

Don’t be afraid to ask or indulge 🙂

“What’s the good of being alive if you don’t do anything?”

In semi-related news,I am skeptical about receiving ‘gifts’ in  form of grand gestures, heck I even raise my brows at small ones, especially if they are directly ‘for me.’ Although I am comfortable when it doesn’t benefit me. Once I see it coming, I sometimes think, ‘What is this person’s motive?’ ‘ How will I repay them?’ It is wrong but you know, I can’t help it.

The irony is that I am often in people’s business, trying to know how and when to help/jump in or whatever it is called. Yes, it is a flaw that I am aware of.

So, in a bid to practice what I preach, I am going to try and be more welcoming of these displays of affection, whether small or otherwise and just..you know, ‘go with the flow.’

“You could continue to repress and think about the life you could have had or you can take what you want from life and see that the world finds that person infinitely more irresistible…

If it is a new expensive phone(that you can afford) which will make you more cheery and keep you busy, walk to that shop and buy it without remorse, If the girl you have had a crush on for years is in a failing relationship, go ahead and tell her how you feel. She might never leave the douche, and you may not get a chance but what good is keeping this info bottled up when you are not certain about tomorrow?

“I don’t want to be that kind of person…so afraid of making a wave that I never swim at all.”

 This reminds me, must swim too! 😉

ocean

I have always been terrible with taking risks, in a way, I still am.. However, this year has taught me to follow my heart even when I know it will get bruised..but then again, to also have the wisdom to withstand a small cut on myself instead of inflicting a full-bloody wound on someone else.

The trouble with life is not that it ends too soon, it is that we take so long to begin it.

Oh and before I go, I urge you to use your skill, it might not be direct like a beautiful singing voice or magic with the paint brush. Maybe your laughter is infectious so you need to continue lightening up the mood of those around you. Perhaps you are great at bargaining and can use this to be a shopping buddy to those that need it or better still become a personal shopper for them..Maybe you make great business decisions and yet tonnes of people around you have money saved up without proper direction..<Insert relevant skill/talent> The list is endless and you know what? The time is now!

“Every year I live I am more convinced that the waste of life lies in the love we have not given, the powers we have not used, the selfish prudence that will risk nothing, and which shirking pain, misses happiness as well. No one ever yet was the poorer in the long run for having once in a lifetime ‘let out all the length of the reins.” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crossroads

You know how even atheists shall cry out to the Lord when faced with the possibility of death or any other such terrifying moment?

Well, sometimes Christians are no different.

We wake up every day going on about our business,taking a taxi,driving to work, making calls, reply any mention of us on the social media; a few angry remarks here and there..before we know it, The day has ended. We whine more than we should and compliment a lot less than we can. We think it is okay because “It’s my life”

Except, it’s not.  I mean it’s not okay, not it’s not your life.

Some evenings I am so exhausted all I get to say before I sleep is Amen or simply the Lord’s prayer; on many mornings I am too ‘lazy’ to even mumble that prayer. When I do pray,I sometimes rush it more than I should.

However, when someone close to me is in pain or am at a point of crossroads in my life, my every waking moment is spent in some sort of prayer, consciously or sub consciously. I sing his praise, read a few verses and pray or fast.

I will stress God so he can give me a sign of some sort, I shall call on him till he hears my cry.

BUT

How often do we go back to thank him after that call to tell us ‘You got the job!’ How many times do we at least say ‘thank you father’ before we close our eyes? Do you remember the last time you had any sort of thanksgiving for your love, family and all other elements of your better than average life?

Lately, I have gotten to a point that I can’t quite explain. I am yearning for God and yet not searching, searching but not finding,whispering when I want to praise. I am…numb.

Everyone who has shared their pain with me in the past few weeks has earned a prayer but when I get to the part about me, I go silent,stiff and stare into space..then it ends there and I hope that the next day shall be better.

I have woken up from nightmares,accumulated sweat,fear and random thoughts in the wee hours of the morning but none of it makes sense.

I think. Reminisce..but nothing.

So I say, I will take it to the Lord in prayer, and then I don’t

I think maybe talking to someone will help, but probably not

Oh, a getaway will take some of it away, tried it, lasted only as long as a the time away

and ……we’re back…

Blank

Uncertain

Lost.

Maybe someone else has gone through the same ordeal or is gong through it right now. Maybe this will be one of those posts which you simply can’t relate to. Still, I got a few verses to sort of help me through some of the emotions I have been feeling lately and thought I would share.

We can’t always have the answers but I know the one who does hears us even before we call and understands the most subtle signs beckoning him.

This should just be the default rule. When in doubt, ask Him, when you are certain, ask Him,before you begin, during and after the decision you are about to make/making/have made, ask Him!

Let it all be about Him, and not you.

Proverbs 3:5-6 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

When things do not seem to be working out, but you believe in them still,stand still and await his direction.

1 Corinthians 15:58

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.

Suffering? Well, you are certainly not on your own and guess what? It will build you-for real..

Romans 5:1-21

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. …

Anger; Yes, it is natural but don’t let it consume you

Ephesians 4:26-27

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.

It is not just you. We all have the moments of grace and those of defeat.

Ecclesiastes 9:11

Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favour to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all.

Temptation. We can’t always fight it but look to Him, he believes in you.

1 Corinthians 10:13

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Nobody said it was easy. If they did, they lied.

Have hope. Keep the faith

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

  • James 1:2-4

    Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Doing good with little or no reward

Philippians 1:6

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

 

Endure and you will reap,don’t believe me? Trust Him

Hebrews 12:1-15

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.

If we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us;

And finally, we should be thankful to God for anything and everything and let him know whenever we can.

I chant ‘Thank you Lord’ whenever I can. It could be a hymn for you or a favourite song but do let him know.

Philippians 4:6
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

This may not all make sense now. God knows even I have some doubt as I type this. On those days when the blows keep coming with no warning and last longer than they should, I ask myself why and want, even need to give up but you know what? Still I rise, and so should you 🙂

Where do I go?

Where do I go?

May God see you through the difficult and happy times alike for it takes an end to see a beginning.

Thank him and call on him. He doesn’t mind either but think about it. Which do you prefer to have people constantly ask you for things or knowing that even f you are their provider, they still have the courtesy to thank you?

Stick with Him and you shall be  in for a thrilling ride…You gerrit,right? 😉

xoxo