A chance to dream #UPENDOSILENTDISCO

 

“It’s easy to fall in love with these kids” I thought to myself. I was just remembering how I’d spent my Saturday afternoon and smiling.

Every other Saturday, a couple of friends and I spend the afternoon at Naguru Remand Home. I don’t know about you but from the outside looking in,I always thought these were just deliquents, bad people, just not old enough for Prison. It is true, they are not yet old enough for prison. But that is not all there is to their stories.

At Worship Harvest we believe Church Begins on Monday and Sunday is Garage time. What that means is , we are reminded that we are the church of Jesus Christ and we are commissioned into the world. In our places of abode, work, learning et al to share the love of God with people. On Sunday, just like a car that needs servicing, we gather to check our oil, encourage each other, rejoice together and also plan. One of the ways we are able to be Church is through Missional Communities. A Missional Community is basically a family on mission together, My family is called Upendo, which means love. Our Missional frontier is the Naguru Remand Home.

As of last Saturday afternoon when we visited, there were 104 children at the remand home. 100 boys and 4 girls. That is a small number. There have been times when they were twice that. We rejoice when we go to visit and they have reduced in number. It means they were released. I was stunned into silence the first time I went to the remand home. I saw boys as young as nine in there too. Boys who were the same height as my little nephew and my heart broke.

“What did you do sweetheart?” I wondered silently to myself

And they are still kids, the same way we were at 9 or 13 or 16. Kids. Maybe ,just been dealt a not so good hand. Some are in there and their parents have never come to visit them. Some are about to turn 18 and their cases are yet to be heard, they are scared. They might be sent to Luzira Prison. Most of them just hang out with the wrong person. All of them are just children needing love and guidance. Children needing someone to believe in them.

Every other Saturday, we spend time with them from 2-5pm and teach. Our aim is to impart some life skills so that they know they have options when they are released. They don’t have to go back to a life of crime. The kids in there have different levels of education. Some had gone up to s.3 before they were arrested. Others had barely finished Primary school. Many had given up on school way before they got in trouble. Currently we have five vibrant classes. We have Basic Computing, Literacy, Agriculture, Carpentry and Arts and Crafts. We are working on reviving the tailoring class. The remand home lobbied from the government and they provided some sewing machines.

You should see the eagerness with which they attend these classes. A few weeks ago, some kids in the Computer class were graduating. So we designed some certificates and printed them out. It was hard fighting back the tears. The look of pride on those boys’ faces as they received their certificates! That same day, the literacy class was also giving out certificates for a creative writing exercise they had done. The best compositions received certificates. I have received a number of certificates in my life and I guess after some point I started taking them for granted. A certificate is physical evidence of achievement. It is also a reminder that there is so much potential in you.

cert
Certificate time!

Like I said, it is easy to fall in love with these children. They laugh, they crack jokes, sometimes they don’t pay attention in class, sometimes you see them attempting to do homework as you ask for it, they are pretty much just like any other children. Except they are in a remand home. A prison for children. If you visited them once, you would want to give them so much.

Last week we went to visit them with someone else. His name is Ibra. He used to be one of them. His story is both inspiring and heartbreaking. Ibra had been at the remand home for 1 year and 3 months before the High Court judge sent him to Luzira Prison for a year. We were hoping for release. But he had just turned 18, he couldn’t be at the remand home anymore. Ibra was released recently and one of the first things he did was get in touch with one of our leaders, Joanna (such a beautiful soul) and inform her that he had been released. Oh the joy!

ibra
Ibra,far left 🙂

He came with us to the remand home on Saturday. Some people knew him. Many did not. He shared his story. He encouraged the children not to give up hope. He reminded them not to give up on God, He spoke of His faithfulness. But most of all , he told them, it is only their bodies that were imprisoned, not their minds. He exhorted them to desire to learn, to engage in all the classes and the activities as much as they can. To realize that the power is in their hands to make the future that they want; It was amazing.

Ibra wants to study beauty and hairdressing. Ibra has signed up to study beauty and hairdressing. He is passionate about it. His plan is to build a salon to reckon with. I can’t wait for the day I will actually go to his salon.

The remand home partners with an organization called COWA, an organization that helps get released inmates mostly into vocational school. Through COWA, Ibra got a bursary to study the thing he wants to study at Centenary Vocational Training School, the Vocational school attached to COWA.  Not everyone gets this bursary. Not everyone has parents waiting to encourage them and send them back to school. Some of them have the same circumstances waiting for them on the outside.

As UPENDO, we realize it isn’t enough to skill them while they were on the inside only to have them come back. What we do is merely laying a foundation. We need to help them, build the whole house. Our plan is to set up a fund that can aid those who don’t have the required support on the outside. Ibra just got out of prison and has no money. Yes, he has a bursary but he’s going to need scholastic materials, housing and bedding. Some others will soon be released and they won’t get the bursary but will want to get into vocational school. The plan is to be able to give them a start, a good start. Let’s give them a chance to dream.

Upendo

So mark the date 30th June, 2017. It is a Friday. In fact, it is the last day of this month. On that day, we shall be holding the Upendo Silent Disco at the Uganda Museum starting at 6pm. Tickets are going for only 25,000 ugx ONLY! Five DJs , three channels. We are doing this to raise money for this fund. Come one, come all. Buy for your entire clan if you have to. There will be lots of great food and drinks for sale, awesome djs and of course giving to a wonderful cause. Spread the word, and buy a ticket. Let’s love on these kids. Let’s give them a chance to dream.

For more information , call or whatsapp on 0777 154 166 or send an email to gwnanfuka@gmail.com.

I was listening to Jealous by Labrinth…

“How is your boyfriend?” Her pastor asked as he motioned for her to take a seat across from him.

“We broke up” she said with a small smile, the kind of smile she wore when she felt awkward. or when she thought she might be making someone feel awkward.

“Oh dear,” he said after a thoughtful pause, “What happened?”

“He moved to another country and decided he didn’t want to come back”

She felt tense. This is not why she had come to see him. In fact she had been avoiding him. Maybe he sensed it. He had run into her in the corridor and insisted she come to his office for some tea.

“So, what flavour tea do you have?” She asked rubbing her sweaty palms on her jeans .

“All of them” he said, with a smug smile.

“I can tell by the look on your face that you are lacking in faith” he added before bursting into laughter. She laughed too. It felt so good to laugh. It felt so good to laugh and mean it. She probably laughed a lot harder than was required. It was just a bad pastor joke after all. Laughter that brought tears. Laughter that gave her an excuse to cry, and cry she did.

At first she tried to fight it but the veins in her neck felt like they were about to pop. So she let herself cry. She just wasn’t ready for the force with which the tears came as she struggled to breath in between sobs. She cried the tears she should have cried when she saw that text message that read “I don’t know, I’m thinking of staying” . She cried the tears that she had kept at bay when it sank in the next morning that he hadn’t suggested that she join him or mention visits. She cried because she knew he was well aware of how she felt about long – distance relationships. She cried because she had a secret board on Pinterest titled weddings. She cried because she finally could.

She was grateful that the pastor’s office was carpeted and almost laughed when she thought of what it would look like after, soaked.

“I’m sorry,” she said when the tears gave her some breathing space.

“Nothing to apologise for,” he said as he handled her some tissue.

“Raspberry and Arabian mint,” he added

“I beg your pardon?”

“The Tea flavours that I have, raspberry and mint”

 

 

 

What’s your favourite song about waiting?

I love music, as I believe should the entire world. I love good music. I love music for a number of reasons. I love it for its entertainment value. I love it as a form of artistic expression (though not mine,ha!) but mostly for its ability to speak to and for me. I am not sure if it’s the music or the artiste. Sometimes it is hard to separate the two. It is all just beautiful music that you fall in love with and put on repeat times infinity.

“I feel like I have been pregnant for forever” I moaned to a friend of mine. This feeling had stayed with me for a long time. Actually, it’s a statement both of us have used often. It is one statement that represents a plethora of emotions and thoughts about our lives as they stand right now.

I’m yet to have my first child so I do not know what it is like to be pregnant. I have been told every woman has their own experience. That in fact, even every pregnancy is different! Wow God wow. However, I have seen some ladies towards the end of their pregnancy constantly saying they are tired of being pregnant and just can’t wait for the baby to show up. Being tired of where they are, eager for the next step.

Have you ever felt like you have been pregnant for like forever?

pregnant-woman-outside

I have. Many times actually. The last time I had this conversation with a fore mentioned friend, he shared with me a teaching titled “Always Triumph” by a gentleman called Keith Moore. It is an hour long. I put it on my phone and listened to it on my way home from work some time . In transit, really is like my least distracted time and I have read and listened to a lot of teachings and podcasts on the way home from work or from anywhere. It seems like my brain is most relaxed and ready to receive when on my way home 🙂

He talked about adding patience to our faith. “insert eye roll or disappointed sigh” . I mean , patience is not exactly what someone wants to hear when they are already tired. They want to hear “Today is the day!!!!” hahaha…or at least next week. Strangely though, that message really calmed my heart. I find it ironic that a message about waiting gave me so much peace.

The main scripture of reference was 2 Corinthians 2:14 ” Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.” KJV . Always. That was very comforting. He emphasised over and over again that there’s not a day you will go to God for help and He says ‘ “nah fam, not this time” . He always comes through. Come to think of it, it is not the waiting that brought calm to my heart, it was the knowledge that God is faithful. I have seen Him show Himself faithful over and over again in my life.

Over the weekend, a man whose Ministry has blessed me for years was in town. His conferences were free and the church where I fellowship (Worship Harvest) also had the honour of hosting him for a special evening service. Andrew Wommack is the least exciting preacher you will probably ever come across and yet, woah! that hall was overflowing. There are so many things about him that are a blessing to me but this weekend I realised that the major one is his “matter of fact faith”. He says things almost with a shrug. Things that you have considered HUUUUGE. He has an of course attitude when it comes to God. Like “Of course you are healed” “Of course you will prosper” . The boldness with his faith not just in telling other people about it but in living it as well!

I had the opportunity to listen to him speak twice, on Saturday evening and Sunday evening. He shared about different things but one of the things that stood out for me was the fact that some things are just simply going to take time and you will have to wait (there goes that word again ) . But also about , a resilient, persistent faith. I have shared this story with anyone who I have run into since then who cared enough to listen. Even to people who didn’t… lol…but probably loved me enough not to walk away from me.

Andrew Wommack shared about how they undertook a construction of a building and ran out of money when they had just cast a slab. Like legit ran out of money! Zero! and he believes in debt free living. No loans. It was a dire situation. It was easy to get discouraged. Do you know what he did? He says that he went to his builder and asked him to map out the building with duct tape. Show, where every wall was, door and window. And everyday, he walked through that “building” and prayed and he saw it in his mind. He never walked through a wall. He would walk though the doors and even preached sermons to that empty hall but in his head he saw the people.

Crazy, right? I was almost thinking the same thing except I’m weird. I was fascinated! It was nine months before an actual building was put up. It’s like he added some spice to the waiting.

“Before you see anything in the physical, you’re going to have to see it with your heart” Andrew Wommack

Waiting expectantly. Is that why pregnant women are called expectant mothers? Because even before they hear their baby’s first cry, they are mothers. They are not just pregnant fwaaa. Everyday, they wake up convinced beyond reasonable doubt that they have a baby and the baby is on his/her way.

slide_22
Psalms 130:6

How does the watchman wait for the morning? With expectation. With hope. With assurance. I wonder if there is a watchman out there who things morning will never come.

So, anyway, music. What is your favourite song about waiting?

Mine is Brooke Fraser’s Love is waiting.

Fall down, get up, stay up and Zip line!

Hello wonderful people,

It’s been a minute (that felt like two weeks) ha! I promised to have a post every Tuesday and I did well for about six weeks. It was all good until the devil stabbed me in the back, and I mean this literally. Some time in the past two weeks on the first Tuesday that I didn’t post, I got the mother of all back aches. It felt like a muscle in my back was stabbed with a hot knife. It was excruciating. It happened at around 1:30 pm while I was still on air.

Usually, I write after the show and hence most of my posts come in on Tuesday evenings. The pain couldn’t allow me to do anything. I could hardly sit, walk, bend, even my breathing was labored. I was sad. I was sad because good Lord was it painful! I was also sad because I knew I was going to miss a post. I wanted to write a celebratory post because six weeks y’all! I had been consistent.

das

Pain is a very selfish thing. It calls attention to itself and can’t stand you thinking or looking at anything else. I didn’t feel fully recovered until about two days later. The next week I put myself under immense pressure to make up for the week before. I wanted to work on two posts on top of everything else I had going on. As you already know, I failed and I did not feel good about it.

There’s an artiste called Travis Greene who has a song titled “You got up”. This is probably my favorite song from him. I would be lying if I told you that I know everything he sings in the song but there’s this part where he keeps saying

“You got up so I could get up again

You got up so I could get up again

You got up so I could get up again

I’m up with you”

I absolutely love that song. It speaks so much truth. Everybody, all of us , fall down sometimes, but hey, we can get up. So maybe you set some goals at the beginning of this year and today, halfway through the month of May, you are nowhere near; you are not even walking in their direction, you can get up. Maybe, you planned to start drinking eight glasses of water everyday and it’s been two days since you last tasted water. Get up, grab a glass. May be you started saving like I mentioned last time but this month you ran through the money before you could put any aside. It’s okay, get up, save next month.

There’s nothing wrong with falling down. Let’s just learn to get up. If you need help, reach out and ask for it.

This is my get up post 🙂  In your face, back stabbing devil, I’m back and I’m writing!

Last week on Saturday, we had a one day retreat as an organization. In the event that I had not mentioned it before, I spend a big chunk of my day at 104.1 Power FM. They are gracious enough to allow me on their airwaves every week day between 10:30 am and 2:30 pm. You should tune in, but I digress. A retreat had been planned and communicated and I had said yes, I would be available. This was the weekend of the week where my back had played games on me.

Our retreat was at Extreme Adventure Park in Busiika. It was nothing short of fantastic.

Upon arrival, we were treated to an amazing breakfast buffet. That was the beginning of my excitement because we had set off quite early to be sure that we had enough time for all our activities. We were cautioned to eat sparingly when it comes to breakfast because the activities ahead were very involving physically. However, the buffet laid out did not make it easy to heed to that piece of advice. Many of us were to pay the price later.

Extreme Adventure Park has its in-house Team Building trainers who were taking us through different activities that had lessons like teamwork, communication et al as the end goal. That got us busy and sweating early on in the day. There are individuals who look calm and collected in the boardroom but turn into beasts when it comes to competitive sports. I shall not name names. Lol, it was a rather eye-opening experience.

DSC_05802

My highlight for the entire day was the obstacle course. I don’t think I have a fear for heights. However, I do not willingly volunteer myself for activities that involve really high buildings. I wasn’t very good with tree climbing growing up. I still have bungee jumping on my bucket list, though. The other thing that was on my bucket list was zip-lining. I got the opportunity to cross that off my list while at Extreme Adventure park. There was a catch, though. The only way to make it to the zip-lining was to finish at least one level of the obstacle course.

The obstacle course happens above ground. At least a meter and a half above ground! It involves things like walking on wires, shaky bridges and other things that seem to be designed for heart attacks. I was reluctant to try it out but almost everyone was going and it seemed weird that I would go all the way to an adventure park and not try anything adventurous. So I put on my big girl pants and got strapped up.

DSC_0976

I wasn’t ready! I wasn’t ready to face my fears and yet it was too late. I was already up there balancing on a shaky bridge, holding onto the wires on each side and taking deep breaths. My motivation was the zip-lining at the end. My dear friend Dj Hush was right behind me reminding me of that fact. She was also my partner in shaky feelings 🙂  We, on more than one occasion, asked ourselves why we had chosen the rope course over paint ball which happens on the ground!

DSC_0950

Finally, two shaky bridges, a pair of wires, and one raft above ground later, I made it to the end without fainting. I made it to the end feeling proud of myself for walking on a wire. I felt like I was on some Philippe Petit business. My prize awaited me. The zip-line was calling! I was excited and a little bit afraid to be honest. Never mind that I had seen countless people zip-line in joy before me. When it was my turn, my stomach almost fell to the ground. I managed to gather some courage and zip-line I did! It was everything I was looking forward to and more. Was it worth it? Every moment of it. Was I willing to try out for level two which was higher than the level I had just finished? Not that day and not anytime soon. Baby steps, baby steps. At the end of it all, I felt like the actual achievement was making it through the rope challenge. The zip-line was fun but I was happier to have actually faced my fears and made it to the zip-line.

I got up that week and I reclaimed my physical space. It was hard to fathom that just days after pain that made even lying down uncomfortable, I had walked on wires and even zip-lined.

“You got up so I could get up again”

DSC_0970

Rest is good

Two weeks ago, a colleague put in her request for leave and asked me to fill in for her as regards some of her duties. I’m a busy girl. I will admit, my plate is kind of full at the moment. There are things I have prioritized and then there are things that are not top of my list but are important as well. I said yes even though at the time of asking my plate was already full. I said yes for two reasons. One, because I was one of the few people able and WILLING to fill in for her as regards those duties. Two, because she needed the break! She was tired. I could see it and I am , as evidenced by this post a big fan of and advocate for resting.

To cut the long story short, I have found myself really exhausted the past couple of weeks. I have found myself longing to stay in bed for a few extra hours and yet I absolutely love my job!!! Yesterday, my boss looked at me and asked if I wanted a day off. Ha! How blessed am I!!! I didn’t even pause in my responding in the affirmative. I probably wasn’t going to ask for it even though everything within me was craving one (Thank you Jesus)

Rest is good. Sometimes we are reluctant to rest because we have these voices that are telling us we are lazy for doing so. I mean, the general definition of a hard worker is someone who is almost always doing something and says yes to everything. Growing up, I heard the word lazy thrown around quite a bit, mainly because I wasn’t the biggest fan of house work. I am not the biggest fan of physical labour, as someone put it. I’d much rather spend my time doing things that engage my brain.At the same time, I know I am intelligent and capable of so much. There’s a lot of things I want to do. Anytime I feel like my life is not the way I want it to be, guess who I point the fingers at? None other than yours truly.

You therefore can imagine what goes on in my head when I think of resting. I have a mix of a voice reminding me to not be lazy and another telling me that time is of the essence. Yet, with fatigue, I am not even that productive. Yesterday, on my way to work, I remembered something I was supposed to have finished by Easter Monday, a week ago that had totally skipped my mind and I have an excellent memory. It just came back to me an entire week later!!!

Rest is good. Rest looks different for many of us. For myself, an entire day where I don’t leave my house and maybe catch up on the latest series or indie movies works. I can actually have two weeks worth of fatigue cured in two days of being at home. For some, travel is an essential component in the resting. For others, just going home early and spending time with people with whom they feel loved does it. Whatever it is, rest my dear friend. It is good.

Another area where the concept of resting seems to have been demanding my attention of late is my psyche. I love Social media. It’s many things to me. It’s a play thing. It’s a source of news and information. It’s also a source of inspiration for a one like me who has interest in brands and marketing. However, of late, I have felt more drained than entertained by the social. I realised that I felt more stressed after thirty minutes of browsing the social. So I have decided to cut back on my online time. I am not moving away completely. At least not for now. I just need to create a few more moments where my attention is not taken up by what everyone else is saying. Also, my social media network has been quite sad and angry the past month so it was pretty exhausting.

Remember in the bible when Elijah the prophet was stressed out and nearly suicidal and God put him to sleep and fed him? I think that might be the plan for me as well 🙂

I am excited for my day off. I can’t wait to do nothing!!! hahaha. I am more excited for time spent with just me and my thoughts. Time to explore some thoughts I had pushed to the back of my mind because there’s always something fighting for my attention. Time to just create anything whether I will ever use it or not. Also time to make my budget for May 🙂 . But you know what? even if I sleep the whole day away, I shall be satisfied because rest is good.

Hello Natural!!! :)

“Natural hair is so expensive” Me, just the other day while meeting up with my friends

“It is” chorused my friends, the only other two ladies in the room and then we laughed about it. Two of us went natural around the same time and the one has never been anything but natural. I did not have a head full of just my non-relaxed hair until early 2016. That is the first time I saw my head with just my natural hair. I did what is known as transitioning where you just grow out your hair until you eventually cut off the treated bits. However, my natural hair journey probably began in 2014.

Like many Ugandan girls, I did not grow my hair beyond half an inch until after secondary school. Naturally, I was excited and couldn’t wait to experiment with all the styles. There was even no negotiation about it. When I had enough hair on my head, I would apply chemical relaxer to it to make it softer, longer and easier to manage.

All was well and good and my hair seemed to be growing at a normal pace until 2012, after campus when it started breaking. It did not matter what I did, my hair was thin, weak and constantly breaking. My mother was convinced I was lacking some nutrients. She actually said that. Fast forward 2014 and after trying for two years and feeling frustrated, I decided to cut it short. Because it had been breaking, it was uneven. So I decided to grow it out so that the saloonist would have enough to work with when cutting it.

 

HAIR 2
Before I took the leap

 

I was super excited when I finally got round to cutting it. I was going to go to this saloon my sister had gone to a few years before where she had cut and coloured her hair and came out looking like a million bucks. I love short hairstyles. That day however, I believe, is what might have planted the seed of me wanting to go natural. On more than one occasion, I had considered cutting off my hair completely but wasn’t brave enough to rock a bald head. I was tired of the dryers and those re-touch sessions. However, this visit was my last straw. The damage the chemical did to my hair and scalp did not feel worth it. From that point onwards, I wasn’t excited to go back.

I told a friend of mine about how I was considering going natural and she asked if I was sure because it was a lot of work. I started reading up on things and maaaan, there’s so much I did not know. I was unsure about embarking on the journey but I was sure about never wanting relaxer on my scalp ever again .

These are some of the things that have not just made this journey possible but easier as well over the past few months

  • Information is Key. Luckily there are so many resources on line about how to take care of your hair. They will tackle topics like hair types, effects of weather, effects of heat, recommend and review hair products as well places where said products can begot at a good price. One of my favourite pages is Natural Hair UG on facebook and it has a blog as well. It is a community of ladies with natural hair discussing a range of things from styling options, hair types, organizing events like the recently concluded kinks and curls expo, advertising natural hair related businesses et al.There are others like The Good Hair Collective , The Moisture well ,  Enviri za Nacho and Livara beauty   which mainly deal in Natural hair products.
  • Prepare yourself mentally for the work. Being a naturalista is not necessarily a walk in the park. Gone are the days where you would just walk into a saloon and “your guy” just does his magic. Because the number of natural haired women aren’t as many as the others, even the saloons are few and a bit pricey. In addition, Natural hair needs almost every day attention. So considering the amount of attention your hair needs, it is in your best interests to actually be able to do some of these things yourself. They might present as a challenge at first if you, like me cut your doll’s hair (don’t judge me) instead of plaiting it but it’s doable.
  • Prepare yourself mentally for other people’s reactions and comments. There are days when those in your life will ask you when you are planning on putting relaxer to your hair even when you have made it clear that is not on your plan. Others might criticize you and you may just want to quit. Don’t. Power through. It gets better
  • We are all different. Learn to love yourself and embrace the hair that God gave you. Focus on keeping it/growing it healthy as opposed to having someone’s hair as #goals .One of the areas many people get frustrated is in wanting their hair to grow very long in the shortest time possible. While there is nothing wrong with length, I personally believe if you focus on keeping your hair healthy, the length (if your genes allow) shall be a fruit you can’t keep away. Find products that work for you . My personal favourites so far are coconut oil and the Kentaro hair butter (which smells heavenly by the way) which I get from The good hair collective.
  • Utilise the internet for styling ideas. Here Instagram and Pinterest are of great help. There are a number of accounts and boards dedicated to this cause and with time you will find styles that work for you. No, having natural hair does not mean you always have an afro. You can have an afro if you want. You don’t have to

Finally, enjoy your hair. Relax and actually have fun with your hair. The other day, I went to a salon with a hairstyle idea and well, I did not end up looking the way I thought I would but I am happy with my final look.  It might seem a bit more expensive than you are used to but as you learn more, you will find ways to look after your hair that are budget friendly. I’m still learning and having fun along the way.