October the Cancer Awareness Month, Reason for my Clean Head

Me and my little sister Christine

Me and my little sister Christine

This year brought some of the saddest news I have heard since my childhood days. When it broke I didn’t know what to say. In fact I didn’t react. It was too painful to take in. The next few days after that I struggled to push every thought related to that to the extreme back of my mind. I hoped I didn’t hear correctly. But how not, it was from the horse’s mouth. A very effective communicator, there is no way it was a mix up of words. In fact she had used the right words for the situation. No second guessing what she meant.
My aunt, the lady I call ‘Mum’ had CANCER. She had delivered the news calmly and left and gone back to her work only to return weeks later to do her city routines. I did not bring up this discussion again in all the conversations we had thereafter. I refused to accept what I heard. It only sank in when she told me of a scheduled surgery to scoop some tissue from the affected area for further tests. I knew then that it was serious.
I was among the very few people she had told and this was not to be discussed with anyone else until she decided. I am sure the person who escorted her to hospital didn’t even know what she was dealing with. So the brave woman drove herself to hospital to the surprise of her doctors. After weeks of waiting, she confirmed my fears.
All this time I had questions in my mind. I was angry, disappointed, confused I didn’t know what to do. I hoped the tests were negative; in fact I was sure they would be negative. I was wrong. So many nights I went to bed and stared into the dark until wee hours. I had to share this with somebody, I had to let this pain out, I had to have a real long conversation with God, and I had questions.
As a little girl I lost both my parents a few years apart. Or at least that is what it seemed like to me. My little mind had to deal with all that pain and i had to somehow console myself and move on with the world. It never stops you know! Worse still I was separated from my siblings because we had to be looked after by different families (relatives). So each one of us dealt with the loss our own way and we definitely were brought up under different circumstances. We only saw each other once a year if we were lucky. One of us didn’t make it but the two of us survived the harsh world.
We had to adapt to life as quickly as possible and learnt to be adults before the right time. Life was a roller coaster thereafter and I will spare you the details. We are here now, bless the Lord.
During our adult life God gave my sister and I a mother. You know God can destroy a village to save one person. After all that went on we had a mother again. She opened her heart to us. We have now grown close and we are more like sisters. She has cared for us and shared her life with us. I know from a special place in her heart she wishes us well.
Now imagine my disappointment when this woman I have grown to love so much and embrace as my mother breaks the news of a possibility of her having CANCER. She calmly broke the news to me and quickly consoled me saying she will be fine. I knew she was only doing what mothers do, I think, being strong for their children. With the little I knew about CANCER it was hard to take in. I remember the day I openly talked about it I cried myself to sleep. It was too much pain to take at that time but from when I started talking about it I started seeing hope. When I finally confronted God with this matter I had an assurance it would be well.
The journey is still on but there is HOPE. We haven’t given up and she hasn’t lost HOPE. She is a STRONG woman and she never gives up. That’s the one thing I am still struggling to learn from her. It’s not been easy at all and if you have watched a loved one in pain you kind of get it. From the loss of hair, appetite, weight to the endless pain, some days are just better than others.
We have learnt to celebrate the small things that we take for granted in life. That she could sit up some times was cause for celebration, when she got out of bed and came to the living room we celebrated, any news of her eating was a miracle. Each one of us monitored her progress in different ways. We no longer complain, we thank God for the far He has brought us and pray that His healing continues in her life. It will be well. This should also teach us to pray for those in a similar situation.

For the Cancer Awareness Month- October, I decided to shave my hair off instead of carrying a pink ribbon on my chest. Many of us women cannot imagine waking up bald, let alone going out with our hair unattended to. Hair is a woman’s glory, that’s biblical. It adds oomph to our outlook. An outfit is not complete without neatly done hair. It is the reason we shall spend hours in the salon just to have it right. Now imagine one morning waking up and your treasured hair remains on the pillow? It is horrific, right?
Cancer patients are put on a treatment called Chemotherapy depending on the stages of the disease. Among the adverse effects of chemo is loss of hair. This happens almost as soon as you start the treatment. It is not easy adjusting to the fact that your hair is no more especially for those who hair is such a big deal. So Mum lost her hair within the first week of chemo. We are now used to the fact that she has no hair but we are sure it will grow back once this is all over. So you now understand why I got rid of my hair.
My shaved head earned me lots of unnecessary attention. Firs the barber couldn’t believe it when I asked him to cut off everything. He sure gave me a piece of his mind about my own hair. Never mind that we were meeting for the first time. Everywhere I have gone, people especially ladies look at me and look again. It was uncomfortable at first but I got used to it. Now I don’t even notice the stares at all. I have gone through all the why did you cut your hair off, why do you have a bald head, why this why that? A few of them have taken me aside and inquired why my husband wanted my hair off. ‘The only reason you would cut off your hair like that is if your husband orders you to.’ Poor man! But yeah, that is what some people think of marriage.
Also people will have something to say about your life, it doesn’t have to have anything to do with them. People will always talk. Ignore the whispers, discouragements, the strong negative opinions, the judgment and all that negative energy that people like throwing at others. When you lose weight they will talk, when you gain they won’t shut up. You are either too aggressive or too passive. We can never mind our business and let people be, can we?

Cancer Awareness

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Lessons from Gen.Aronda’s Life

As is my practice at a certain hour I turn off my data and eventually switch off my phone before I sleep, which is usually an hour after midnight. So that night I went to bed phone off as usual. When I opened my eyes in the morning I reached for the phone and switched it on and bam! An sms from a friend, ‘Aronda Nyakairima has passed away from Dubai.’ I didn’t even know he had travelled to anywhere. Not that I always know but…
My jaw dropped. I hoped it was not true, that it was a mistake or bad joke. Quickly I turned my data on and alas! All the groups I am part of were going on and on about the same. I couldn’t contribute anything I couldn’t ask for any details. That was shuttering enough.
I didn’t think of his family immediately, I thought of what Uganda had lost- one of her finest. Selfless, dedicated, hardworking, resilient, humble and many other qualities that have been used to describe Gen.Aronda. Many will agree with me that it’s very hard to find such qualities all in one person lately.
I had never worked directly under or with Gen.Aronda although I found myself at a few meetings he chaired or functions he officiated at. Nevertheless I have a few good friends who worked directly under his supervision and I had heard stories. His meetings were no nonsense, assignments had to be completed in time without excuses, phone calls came in at any time, and there was no weekend, no holiday because work had to be done. Many of these had grown fond of him and enjoyed working under him. I thought of these too. How devastated they are! It’s only today that I managed to send an email to one of them. I don’t know what to say without making cliché statements. I haven’t learnt how to deal with grief despite my story.
In comes the family, seeing pictures of his daughter and son seated at front rows watching their dad’s casket makes me wonder what they are processing in their little minds. Losing a parent will never be easy and nothing can ever prepare anyone for the loss of a dear one. And so my heart goes out to the widow and her children. I pray God’s providence is upon them and that they find comfort in the Lord. To his sister who I met once through my very connected friend, no words are comforting enough.
Gen.Aronda did his part. He even died on duty. How committed are the rest of us to the jobs we have? How much of our time do we sacrifice to see good things happen for the good of others? With all the filth especially in government offices, how many are ready to stand for transparency and honesty no matter the ridicule? What we see today evidenced by the stories carried in the media are people bagging as much as they can and little work being done. Broad day robbery!
Roads meant to last 30 years waste away in just months, corruption is the order of the day. Even getting the money that is duly yours is a problem; the paying officer wants a pinch of that! People want to be bribed to do the jobs they humbly applied for. And so when we lose outstanding people like Gen.Aronda my heart aches for Uganda. When people enter jobs they think it’s their turn to eat.
It will take a supernatural power to boot these rotten characters out of our way. And so those who pray to any power summon them for help.
My challenge is to clean up my house, pick a few a few of Gen.Aronda’s attributes and do my part.
Rest in Peace General Aronda.

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Take Charge of your life, Get Tested

That is my post last year and not much has changed since then. This year the focus is on having ‘zero new HIV infections’ and the aim is controlling the number of babies being infected at birth or through the infected parents.

The HIV prevalence rate in Uganda is 7.3% and 1.6m Ugandans are living with HIV of which 100,000 are pregnant women.

To join the struggle, take that test today and live responsibly.

muyama

Almost every family in Uganda has been affected by HIV/AIDS- they have lost a relative or friend to this scourge. At some point in the history of HIV/AIDS in Uganda, most of the orphans were victims of this scourge.

To this effect many NGOs had opened up to help such children by taking care of their education needs but also their health and nutrition needs. Never mind that before long some living parents started registering their children under these programs.

Because of the seriousness of the virus and the effects it had on communities in the country, the government was quick to step in. There were all sorts of campaigns carried by all available media against this scourge.

‘I still remember the sound of the drum that was played every hour over the radio with a message that warned against HIV/AIDS, it was terrifying and depicted the seriousness of the…

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Tips for a bride to be

It is said that the last four months of the year are the busiest on the ‘marriage calendar’. So you will be told to book everything early enough including the guests! I happened to have my traditional marriage in one of these busy months and true to what they say, it is peak season! Prices are up and competition is on. What will save you is planning early enough and booking in time. From the whole running around, there are lessons I picked for you who is planning such a function for yourself, sister, mother, grandmother, co-wife or a dear friend.
Prayer
Praying Woman
This is the time you will need prayers most because your mind will be filled with a lot of stuff. If you are not careful your mental faculties will shut down a bit. The only way I stay calm is by praying. When I have prayed then I know it’s my obligation to believe and to believe I have to keep fear far from me. So pray, pray and pray some more. Every one of us has something we believe in – my God above did wonders for me and up to now I am still in awe!
He dealt with the finances, placed the right people in my life just for that purpose, raised intercessors for me and the weather was on point! That is beyond my expectations. I had asked God for all these and He outdid Himself.
I vividly remember one morning about three days before my function when a friend I had not heard from in a long time and who I had not personally told about the function called me to tell me she had a conviction to pray for me and had me in her prayers. This was confirmation that God was on my side, I sat on my bed and didn’t know how to react. God is awesome like that, just trust Him.
Plan
The key to a successful day is planning. Plan early enough and have plan B for almost everything. Some things will definitely not go as planned but plan anyway. When the day comes, ignore the few things that will go wrong and smile at the good ones. A gloomy face will ruin your pictures- ladies you know how important pictures are 

Hold meetings for ideas and support

Hold meetings for ideas and support


Parents
Your parents or guardians will have a very big influence on your function so the earlier you involve them the better. Be as understanding as possible. You may want a very small function but your parents will have friends. I thought 150 people were a maximum until my father dropped in on me. His relatives and friends alone were more than 300! Yeah, my jaw dropped too. But everything worked out well and at the end of the day I was glad everyone came. So talk the parents and come to a compromise, at the end of the day it is also their function and they are celebrating you!
Friends
‘Friends are a family we choose,’ so choose yours wisely! Friends are an asset and the more you have the better for you because some of them will disappoint you nicely but if you are lucky a good number will stick with you. No need to judge anyone, people will be themselves once in a while.
Seek the help of friends

Seek the help of friends


Kajambo to my dear friends who were my eyes, ears and hands as I was being confined to those four walls as is the norm with most African brides. Where I wasn’t you were, God will bless you because I asked Him to.
Relatives
They are an asset but can also be the biggest lot of saboteurs. Choose wisely who you deal with. Some of you may not understand this so good for you. For those who do, take caution and involve your friends in the preparations because where you will not be your friends will be – hopefully.
Service Providers
While some will not care what quality of service they throw you as long as they have taken your money others won’t have their name go down the drain just because of the few shillings you couldn’t top up. Hi5 to Makayi (those from Eastern Uganda should try him) for the delicious food cooked with his soul and heart. I saw professionalism in every sense of the word!
Luwumbo was one of the delicacies on the day's menu

Luwumbo was one of the delicacies on the day’s menu


Unfortunately, there are not many Makayis. Some will take your money, give you a crappy service and insult you. Feel free to consult me before you make up your mind (those from Bugisu) on some of these people.
Anyway, when that happens, focus on ‘Makayi’
and smile through your day, don’t go down the drain with them.
Expenditure
Spend only what you can afford. We all know the kind of function we want and how much we can afford. If there are resources, spend as much as will make you happy. It makes no sense working to impress anyone, at the end of the day nobody cares. Do what will make you happy! Be simple if you want to be simple, go flashy if that’s what makes you happy and you can afford it.
Before you call people for a meeting be sure to foot ¾ of the budget if things don’t go well at least the remaining ¼ can be foregone or solicited.
Money
Avoid being your own treasurer because you will not know how money collected has been spent. Separate your money from the money for the function for better planning.
Use the money for the intended purpose

Use the money for the intended purpose


Identify reliable friends/family to deal with paying different service providers to avoid being stressed on your day. You can’t be the one paying service providers as they arrive or leave! All you need to see are receipts after payments.
Even when everyone has been paid off, carry emergency money. Things always come up.
Enjoy the Day
Enjoy your day

Enjoy your day


Last but not least, whatever happens enjoy your day! Whether the decorator has not come or the dry cleaners messed up your best gomesi/mushanana/mwenda, smile because nobody will tell. At the end of the day it is your smile that will set the mood for the function. Whether in plan B or original dress, all people will remember is the happy bride! I believe I enjoyed my ‘kwanjula’.

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MY TWO BEST WOMEN

muyama

On this Mother’s Day
I will never let go of that smile that lit up our world.
With you everything was possible and nothing was impossible.
You were a provider and a problem solver,
We just knew you could.

I didn’t know the struggles of a woman,
Let alone the pains of a mother.
Maybe because you were so strong, you were indeed a super woman.
I have never forgotten your warm smile,
I am glad I took that after you. Yes I did!
You worked hard without complaining, and served all without segregating.

Now that I can put the dots together, you protected us from a lot.
Of course I would have loved to know how you made it.
But I guess certain questions will never get answers,
Just because you are not here to provide the answers.

My past few weeks have been tough,
They showed me how…

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MY TWO BEST WOMEN

On this Mother’s Day
I will never let go of that smile that lit up our world.
With you everything was possible and nothing was impossible.
You were a provider and a problem solver,
We just knew you could.

I didn’t know the struggles of a woman,
Let alone the pains of a mother.
Maybe because you were so strong, you were indeed a super woman.
I have never forgotten your warm smile,
I am glad I took that after you. Yes I did!
You worked hard without complaining, and served all without segregating.

Now that I can put the dots together, you protected us from a lot.
Of course I would have loved to know how you made it.
But I guess certain questions will never get answers,
Just because you are not here to provide the answers.

My past few weeks have been tough,
They showed me how much I still needed you.
But through it all, I have decided to trust in the Lord.
I didn’t learn from you how to be a WOMAN.
I am learning through rough experience.
But your strength has led me this far, MAYI.

And then…
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MY SUPER WOMAN

Xtine (L) and Karol on a recent road trip

Xtine (L) and Karol on a recent road trip


Often times when I see siblings disagree and go for months and days without talking to each other, my assumption is that they can afford that because they are many.
Dear Christine,
I thank God for you. For a sister like you, you are my friend, my counselor, my confidant, my reason for living, my strength, everything!

You have taught me to trust, to pray, to love, to give, to share, to let go! You have taught me to live life now. I am inspired by the way you work so hard, and give selflessly.

Even when things may not add up some times, I know I have that one person who will always understand.
My secret is always safe with you because I know you get me.

I know you feel my pain and share my joys.

When I tell you to pray with me I know you will pray sincerely and persistently. When I excel I know your heart bursts with pride. When I am hurt I know it goes right through your heart.

Like mum shielded us from the rough world I always want to do that for you. Only that it is very hard for me to keep things from you.

I don’t know of a stronger woman, so loving, dedicated and selfless like you. My prayer is you get a houseful of daughters and dozens of sons to enjoy your warm heart. And that they take care of you like you have taken care of all of us.

Please live on and on to impact our children’s children. May the man who ‘wifes’ you be embarrassed with blessings. May His territory increase and may you bring forth a generation that works hard and prays harder.

I love you CHRITINE N. PEKKE, always and forever❤

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My March so far

Two Day Get Away
For two days I was in a place where I should have had fun in its totality because of the location and amenities available there but did I? No. I was working even more than I do on a normal day at work. From 9:00am to past 6:00pm. By the time night fell, all I needed was that humongous bed in the room, the rest of the luxury around didn’t mean much. In fact I left the place more fatigued than I had walked in. Wasn’t part of idea relaxing? This life!

There was such luxury and more

There was such luxury and more


#5AsideUG
From my two-day get away I had #5AsideUg to attend. In could not even make it for the event on time. If you are on twitter you must have come across the hash tag #5AsideUG that trended for weeks. This event was organized by @40days…over 40smiles a charity group and took place on Saturday March 8, 2014 at Bush Court. This group is led by Esther Kalenzi, (http://estherkalenzi.wordpress.com/) whom we commonly refer to as ‘Boss Lady” but this name is a preserve for only the 40/40 family. If you don’t know who Esther is by now I don’t know which planet you live on but let’s move on.

After all the noise made on social media, the groups’ major avenue of advertising, the turn up was overwhelming. Compared to other events organized by @40days…over 40smiles before, the numbers here shot, at least to over the organizers’ expectations. We have seen #Hoops4Grace, #Croake’nRhyme and several others where the numbers have been big but #5AsideUg this year surpassed them all. Thank you all for your support. This was a great way of celebrating WOMEN.

Thank you all for supporting 40/40

Thank you all for supporting 40/40


So while I was away ‘chilling’ for two days a few people spent sleepless nights to make the event what it was. A lot of work goes into these events. Since there are no major sponsors, everything happens almost by faith. Did I mention that 40/40 family is prayerful too? And so after all the running around and knocking at doors some of which opened and others slammed the event was a success.

The players who paid 10,000= each to be on teams came in big numbers, the spectators who paid 3,000= rolled in- in their hundreds. The organizers then were kept on their toes all day/ night. Of course not everything goes as planned so there has to be firefighting here and there but at the end of the day the ‘behind the scenes’ is all worth it if the goal of making a child’s life better is achieved. As published on the official social media accounts of 40days …over 40smiles, the money raised from the event was 11,376,700= and after deducting the expenses of 4,712,600= the rest was 6,664,100= (https://www.facebook.com/40daysover40smiles?fref=ts) which is meant to support the vulnerable children according to the groups planned programs.

Some of the merchandise 40/40 sells to raise money

Some of the merchandise 40/40 sells to raise money


I will not talk much about the event; in fact I don’t even know which team took the trophy because my ‘behind the scenes’ was too involving. With a very supportive team, we had to attend to all the thirst on those grounds. One pulls at the shoulder, the other screams in your face, the other one wants drinks delivered to his corner but a few good ones late you keep the ‘change’. I have mastered the smile that earns the change, ‘for the children’. The task also requires a sharp head at times to save time with getting change and also avoid being cheated. What I am about to master though is the dipping of hands in ice to dig out the ‘Mirinda Pineapple, the Castle Lite and the Black Ice/ Red Ice. The ice numbs the fingers and even if you get a cut you only notice later in the shower. Of course there are those mean buyers who will assure you how you don’t know how to do business if their brand of beer suddenly runs out, which is common. Others will want to use all tactics to cheat you but thank God for the very cooperative team.

So for me as a behind the counter person, I notice the success of an event from the flow of drinks. When people are having a good time the drinks flow at a very fast rate and yes, this time they did. All the beer crates were emptied and the soda people also did a good job. When I got home and every muscle was on fire I knew the event had gone well.
Thanks to Brenda Banura, I am now a trainer- no longer an intern .

The Massage Experience
So Sunday after the event, I open my eyes at about 10:00am and I can’t get out of bed. My body was too heavy it couldn’t move. I thought of the following day and decided I had to do something about the fatigued muscles. I drew from my savings and decided to get a massage to help relax my muscles.
This was my first attempt at having someone press my body. The start was good, shower, steam, and stretch all easy. When the lady finally laid hand hands on me I almost screamed. I didn’t know what to expect when I got onto that small bed. I thought it would all me ticklish and enjoyable. Some of it was, most of it wasn’t!

The Massage i had was supposed to take away the pain and it did but...

The Massage i had was supposed to take away the pain and it did but…


I had looked at her and even thought she would not do a very good job. How I was wrong. A few minutes into the exercise I was tearing. Pain upon pain isn’t anything to smile about. All she told me was I would feel better after and I was supposed to hold on to that and bear all the pain. I quietly wondered how much pain the male masseuses cause if this tiny girl was causing me such pain.
As she used a her small feet and tiny arms to sooth the pain in my body I slowly calmed down and by the time she was done, I was feeling better and was smiling. I think she did a great job. Will I do that again, I doubt! I will stick to facials, pedicure and manicure for now.

Visit to my Home- Butta

Whether its a marriage ceremony or a burial, Africans always share a meal together

Whether its a marriage ceremony or a burial, Africans always share a meal together


The week run very fast and soon it was Saturday again and I was on a bus to Mbale. I had to travel home for to attend an uncle’s burial but also attend a very crucial family meeting. That’s what growing up means. Things start to concern you and your opinion on things becomes important. My cousin and I arrived just in time for the burial ceremony. My heart went out to the old woman and the old man who had lost the last of their sons more than I felt for the orphans. This is because it was slightly over 20 days since they buried their daughter and a year after they had buried another son. This is particularly sad because naturally parents expect to die before their children and so for this old man and woman to lose their children just one after another like that was disheartening.
On Sunday we had yet another burial. A family friend we were all accustomed to had passed away on Friday morning. He was a retired footballer. The same community burying two people one after the other. It was a somber mood in Butta.
Such graves are common in every homestead in Africa

Such graves are common in every homestead in Africa


After our family meeting, everybody had to go up the hill to attend the burial of our friend and neighbor and some of us who had to travel back to Kampala left the process mid way. It is very important to show solidarity but more important to support someone who has lost a loved one. That is why where I come from even when you arrive a year after someone was buried you must pay homage to the grieved family. That is what community is all about, bearing one another burden.
Fare thee well uncle, fare thee well our dear friend!

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