Last weekend at Kirabo Seeds in Uganda we had a special celebration. We invited all of the Jjajjas (grandmothers), Aunties and Uncles of the children to come visit our children’s home and see how they live as well as what we do for them as an organization.
Last May when we first gathered up the original twelve children they all came to the little house we lived in at first. I shudder to think of that house now that we have this nicer one. It was like stuffing a size twelve body into a size six pair of jeans in an environment of hostility swarming with battalions of mosquitoes.
Over this past year, have visited the jjajjas and aunties with the children at their homes, but we have not yet had everyone come visit our new home. It was a day of great celebration. I am still pouting that I couldn’t be there for this event. I believe we must do it again when I am next on that side of the world. I am so thankful that George Lwanga donated his special skills in photography to capture the day so we could all participate. And because I hope you can get to know Robert better, I’m using his original email to describe the day for you. You will see after this how much I appreciate this team of leaders in our home. God has truly blessed this ministry.
Hullo Mama Tonya,
It’s true that we had a great time with the jajjas last Saturday. To begin with, we had most of the jajjas except for Boniface who had a sick mum so she couldn’t make it and Paul’s who had an important function to attend elsewhere. Nevertheless, the meeting was very successful and colourful because every child with his/her jajja and they were so excited to see each other.
It all started with introductions of the caretakers to the jajjas and the children as well, their class levels and their strengths. It was after this timely session that we resorted to a great feast with everyone including a few other well-wishers who had been brought along by the jajjas and the children as well. The food was so unique, perfectly prepared and very delicious. This could be told in the way every person expressed him/herself in different words saying “thank you…!” It’s after the feast that we had a time to brief the jajjas on how each child is doing currently in relation to the time the child joined the home which was very evident by every child’s appearance. We went ahead to brief them on the different activities that go on in our home in which the kids take part without forgetting the domestic work done by the kids. This impressed every person present so they encouraged us to continue with the same spirit of having the kids actively involved in the various exercises that go on at the house. It’s important to note that the jajjas were very excited and very thankful at every step that is undertaken by kirabo seeds to exploit these kids’ potentials.
Honestly, I have no words to explain and express how grateful, thankful and appreciative each jajja was with whatever is going on in the children’s lives and at the house as well.
We also had a wonderful session of each jajja touring with his or her child where the kids sleep, keep both their dirty and clean clothes, knickers and under wears. This was such a phenomenal event to see some jajjas get involved in helping their kids sort their clothes well and helping them arrange their wardrobes. The tour continued around the house and the jajjas were able to see where the kids eat and read from and showed the different books the kids read including the weekly menu for the food they eat without forgetting the disciplinary materials used for character development such as the performance tickets and cards.
Everything left them amazed and speechless and the only way to express their gratitude was to break into the spirit of prayer with their hands lifted high asking God to bless each and every one of us and our home as well. This was pioneered by Denis’ jajja and before we knew it, we had already entered into another realm and this was so incredible.
After this event, each jajja had an opportunity to step aside with his/her child for a parental discussion about the kid’s conduct and behaviour.
It’s from the jajja-kid discussion that we had a focused group discussion about the various concerns such as lack of respect, moral values, uncleanliness, telling lies among others that were discovered by the jajjas during their interaction with the kids. This was very fundamental for us as it gave us an opportunity to have the jajjas understand and appreciate the various challenges we go through in raising these children. In this regard, kirabo seeds was accredited for the great achievement which compelled every jajja in one accord to react to the different dubious behaviours of the children as a matter of concern, that should be highly punishable if we are to realise permanent behavioural change among our children and raise responsible citizens. (we have found the best punishment is to exclude them from the fun that can be found…the original time out is making its debut in Uganda.)
In this very gathering, we had an opportunity to hear jajjas open up and discuss the lives of their kids before they joined kirabo seeds. Oh my God! These stories were so touching and very inspirational, we could see very many jajjas’ eyes tearing during the sharing. Musa and Ryan’s stories were very emotional. A story about Ryan was told by his jajja how his auntie treated him after his parents passed on. He lived a miserable life where even finding something to eat was close to impossible. He used to sleep under his auntie’s marital bed and it was as a result of all the different activities that used to go on top of his head that he got so exposed to silly behaviour. This was coupled with the weird environment in which he was living which made him very vulnerable as it exposed him to a lot of injustices, immorality, aggression, and vulgar speeches. Considering Ryan’s history and how he appears plus the environment he’s staying in currently couldn’t help his jajja from shedding tears.
Musa’s story on the other hand was another touching one. It was told that his own late mum dumped him at a playground when he had just started crawling. He was denied, abandoned and neglected by everybody including his own mum who ran away after dumping him and his jajja as well. It was after a neighbour telling his jajja that” If you don’t take care of this kid, you are going to be imprisoned” that the jajja decided to “adopt” him. Better still, he wasn’t loved at all; he was considered a reproach and a misfortune to the family. Even the day he was chosen to become part of kirabo seeds family, it was even hard for people to believe that this organisation was serious by taking up such a “thing” of all other children. It was a remarkable moment and we discovered that every child has a story behind him but due to the time aspect, we were unable to have everyone tell his or her child’s story.
We further went ahead to discuss some jajjas’ conducts of being possessive of the kids such. We discussed the numerous times some of these jajjas want the kids to go back home and the untimely phone calls that come in at weird hours even as early as 6:00am. All the others shunned this conduct. Ryan’s, Musa’s and Angela’s jajjas carried out a serious lecture on the other jajjas with these behaviours. We could tell that something was going on in the inside of the jajjas with this behaviour and there was a moment of silence among them, which was a sign of transformation. Indeed by the time we closed the meeting, every jajja was in agreement that we only have one day every holiday when we invite all of them at the kids home to visit and only send the kids back home during Christmas holiday and for only two days i.e. Christmas day and boxing day. This also came as a result of the seen behavioural changes among our children each time they go back home hence the resolution.
After Craig and I read this report from Robert we were silenced and in awe of a work that only God could do. We were thankful to be used by our great God to get this work rolling but it takes a great team and a lot of faith to follow this journey. We know for sure we are surrounded by the protection of God almighty as these precious sixteen children belong to him. In the bible verse we base our work upon, Psalm 68:5-6a it says, “a father to the fatherless a defender of widows is God in his heavenly dwelling. God sets the lonely in families.” I know we didn’t make this happen. God did it. But oh, what a blessing it is to be chosen by God to establish this home. I know Phiona, Robert, Julie, Kiah, George, and Irene in Uganda feel the same way. I also know all of our sponsors and supporters can agree it is a great feeling to see how well the children are doing, and to know with their own eyes how far their donations have reached. In our organization I protect the finances to make sure they reach the children. We can see with our eyes how well they are doing.
I honestly get a shimmering feeling that spreads through my limbs when I feel the full impact of the work that has been established in less than one year. I sense in my heart that it was all worth the struggles we currently endure, and have overcome. I sense an anchor for my existence in knowing this work has lasting significance, this is not about me, this is how I am able to spend my whole self to benefit others. Yes, this is the feeling that I would describe as being ALIVE. And I can just invite anyone interested in helping us keep this work going to contact me about how to help these children to continue to thrive in our Kirabo Seeds home. We need sponsors, or help with sales of the beautiful crafts I bring home from Uganda. Of course, we welcome tax-deductible donations. If you are interested I hope you will contact me, firstname.lastname@example.org