Falling in love

6

It was love at first sight that hot afternoon when I used my lunch break to visit the children’s home in Kyebando for the first time.

I had started a Facebook group, shared a plan and invited friends to spend their 40 days giving but I didn’t even know the recipients.
That afternoon, within seconds of arrival. I knew.
I received more hugs than I could count. I was surrounded by smiles. I felt love.
I encountered God.

Before long, I was back to visit and graduated from a stranger to aunt, to mummy. I was in love.
Imagine my utter joy when I got to share this love with my friends and realising that many felt it too.
These children soon became family.
I can just see them as I type this; Bashir, the most beautiful boy you ever did see, who needed surgery at some point and the Doctor agreed to do it an no cost except for anesthesia and paying the nurses-this 200,000 was collected in one ‘facebook group chat’ session long before we had whatsapp ;Daisy the diva who knew how to use her adorable face to get what she wanted, oh Esther who became my BFF when she found out we were namesakes. Once I found her wearing a tee and realised it was one that I owned before it found a new home. When I told her it used to be mine, she registered this fact in her little brain. Four out of five times we visited, she was wearing it. I asked her to change into other clothes but she would not budge.
And how can I forget Ronald who loved to drum. When it was dance time, his heart smiled. He gave the caretakers some trouble, as he sought to be understood, like we all do. Eventually he found a loving home and I couldn’t be happier.
We met so many more beautiful souls and slowly they found family within the team and vice versa.
This relationship had its tough times, like any other and while many were out of my control, I feel eternally blessed because of the miracles that came alive from these bonds.
I received some practice for motherhood too😉
There is so much that I cannot put to words (and believe me, I have often tried) and yet everything learnt, what I felt, what I feel, it will always stay with me.

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40 days. 40 stories

Happy March! Yes, we made it to the third month, possibly with a few scares but STILL STANDING. <<That is what counts.

40 days 40 stories

I thought I would share bits of this incredible journey as we commemorate 5 years of 40-40. What better, more divine way than to begin on Ash Wednesday which is today, 1 March?!

I may not have a story published on each day but I will write 40 stories, so help me God. Maybe they will make you smile, laugh or shake your head. It would be great if they can inspire someone or just take you on a trip that hopefully you will enjoy. It will come as a LONG post on Facebook and as a blog entry. Choose your poison.

Here goes!

One

What is in a name?

When I left home that morning 5 years ago, I had no idea that I would call the Facebook group I opened ’40 days over 40 Smiles.’ I just knew I was going to do it.

Fast forward and it has been a great conversation starter, ice breaker and even an identity. I have a friend who increases and decreases the quantities as he pleases Today it is ‘30-30,’ tomorrow ‘60-60’ and even 2040. *shakes head*

I remember an employee of Bank X telling us ’40 days over 40 Smiles’ sounded like a forged name when we went to open and account. By definition, to forge is to ‘produce a copy or imitation of (a document, signature, banknote, or work or art) for the purpose of deception.’ Alas, how far from the truth she was. Needless to say, that bank would not have to suffer the plight of having an account holder with this forged name.

Funny enough, I met *Charles who told me that as he was looking for a company name for his art, one of the Ugandan names that intrigued him the most was ‘40 days over 40 smiles’ and he had always wanted to tell me.

A few years after inception, Vanessa* told me it was time we changed the name. I asked why and she explained that it was a mouthful and we needed something more relatable. I thought about it and realised I didn’t want to just pick a name because it sounded relatable or was short and easy to say, it needed to be authentic over everything else. As I write this, I am reminded of actress, Uzo Aduba’s story in which she went home one day complaining how no one at school could pronounce her name and asked if she could be called Zoe. Her mum’s response is/ was legendary. “If they can learn to say Tchaikovsky and Michelangelo and Dostoyevsky, they can learn to say Uzoamaka.”

Now I smile as I explain why the name 40 days over 40 smiles Foundation. Yesterday at restaurant where I had lunch, a waitress greeted me with a smile “Hi 40-40.” I smiled back and responded. Owaye, if Esther is too mainstream, why not use figures?

rose

 

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