Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Brave Girls like Paulina*

I met Paulina* about two weeks ago in Masaka on International  Day of theAfrican Child.

It’s her bravery that stayed with me.

She is in her mid teen years but she’s already fought tough battles none of us will ever dream of, nor understand, and yet she’s not shy about speaking up for what she believes in.

When people stand up for what is right, despite the disapproval of others, I admire them. As we get older it tougher for adults to do. To survive in the adult world you must be part of the social circle and adher to the subtle rules. The ones that step outside may become GREAT, but the socials risks involved will deter many, therefore it is rarely encouraged. 

Let’s get back to story….

We arrived at Hotel  Brovad in Masaka around 9.40am. My colleagues and I were late. We had missed most of the children’s roundtable discussion with Government representatives. 

In the last 30 minutes the MC asked the children, “Children, does anyone have anything else to say to the adults?”

After three or four children had spoken, up went Paulina, given her skin you really couldn’t help noticing her, grabbing the mic she confidently stated. “Children like me want to be treated like everyone else, we can run, we jump, we can play. We shouldn’t be left out. The Government should consider us too!”
Shortly afterwards the discussion concluded, but I was curious about her story and what had prompted her to speak out so loudly and assertively. We all made our way to  the grounds where the celebrations would continue, I sought out the MC of the roundtable discussion to see if I could learn more about Paulina.

When I found her, she agreed to share some of her story. Because she’s a minor I have changed her name and used a picture without her face.

Paulina says her eyesight is a problem, she’s been out of school for a year so that she could get a special operation. The operation helped, but she still has sight problems because in school when it rains her classroom becomes dark and she can’t see the board. When I asked if she had electricity in school, she said they did, but her classroom’s light wasn’t working and they had neglected to fix it.

“ Other classrooms have light.” She said

Paulina told me that children like her have to put special ointment on their skin but not everyone can afford it. These are the things she wants the government to consider supporting.

“They make huge difference in a child’s life.” She said.

She told me she is brave because she comes from a loving family , that’s why she can speak up for herself,

“Many children like me don’t come from a good family. School is difficult if your teachers don’t understand. They are scared to be themselves, to be free. I want to be a human rights lawyer when I grow up, so that I can speak for children like me.” She told me.

That is what this blog #HappilyFlawed is about. It’s about being comfortable in your own skin, no pun intended, and sharing your life lessons with others. It’s about accepting that we can’t be perfect and there is no need to be. We should just happily be ourselves.

Thank for sharing Paulina! #BraveGirls #HappilyFlawed

Albinism is a rare, genetically inherited condition found in all ethnicities. People with albinism have little or no pigmentation in their eyes, hair and skin owing to a lack of melanin. They are sensitive to bright light and have a higher than average risk of skin cancer from sun exposure. Most people with albinism are also visually impaired. To find out more about Albinism click here

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Don't forget to write about this....

So I traveled to Masaka on Thursday to support with Day of the African Child Activities in Uganda
I was only supposed to be there for the day but my colleagues neglected to mention until 4.00pm that we were staying the night . These colleague were older than me, one was in the same age bracket as my aunties yet she reminded me that age does come with maturity.  I was tired from the day and irritated by their sheepish apologies so I retreated to my room.

Luckily this is the district where my mother comes from. So I called my Aunty, my mother’s sister, and explained the dilemma.

She arrived 20 minutes earlier than the time we agreed. She hugged me longer than the time that normal people do. Her eyes looked me up and down, the way mothers do. She wanted to check and see that I was telling the truth. 

Her eyes asked me questions too.

Are you hiding something from me?

Are your really okay?

No matter how much you have grown into an adult I think your elders will always see the child inside you. The child that is masked by an adult body.

She apologized to me that she couldn’t pick me up in a car, as my Uncle was still busy working. I didn't need her to pick me up in car, but she felt it was important too.Then she took my hand and we walked to the town center. It was quiet evening in Masaka, there was no  traffic. We could chat not disturbed or disoriented by bleeping horns or flashing car lights, we could cross the road without trying to dodge the cars of angry drivers. We quickly visited the shops of my all my aunties and uncles that were still in town, then we collected all the things I needed for my unexpected sleepover. She held my hand the whole time like I was still a toddler.

When we reached her home she made me tea, she refused to allow me in the kitchen to help. She quickly rushed to the nearby shop to buy one mandazi , which she then cut into four smaller pieces just for me.
Then she joined me for tea and we talked. She told me all the things about me she was worried about. She told me all the things about my siblings she was worried about. Then she proceeded to tell me all the things I needed to do. That lovely motherly advice that helps you check to see if you are on track in this world.

My uncle returned and they dropped me back at the hotel. But not before she handed me a huge pawpaw and some sugar cane for my brothers and their families

Since I my mother died, I had forgotten what that feels like...

When someone is really concerned about your wellbeing

The picture above was taken on the journey back. I wanted to remind myself to write about this.

I scrolled through my photos today while having breakfast, I saw the picture and remembered.

So here I am posting this.

I miss you mum.

And thank you Aunty

Monday, 13 June 2016

Why I hate reading poetry. ~ Bad Poetry

 I hate reading poetry
If you have something to say
Just say it
Say it clearly
Don't play around with words
No full stops
No Capitals
 No Red light for stop
No green light for go
Just cruelly making them figure it out as you go
Don't be mean 
Don't tease the reader
Don't make odd sentences
That start weirdly
And end weirdly
Don't remind me
Of how much I disliked my English grammar lessons
Write it clearly
Don't be like the Pied Piper giving very little
And getting much in return
A book deal
Don't expect me to to read a poem that opens up old unhealed wounds
With no therapist waiting 
Poetry reminds me of how I am not book smart
I wasn't chosen for the extra Latin class
I was in the bottom set for English
"You must learn how to use the rules properly before you can break them."
Then we  find ourselves
Years later
In postgraduate class learning the old rules and new rules
"This is how you write a research proposal"
Just more and more rules
So tell me when do we learn how to break the rules?
During the daily e-mail exchanges with our colleagues?
When I fill out the transport request for a field visit?
How about during my chats on whatsapp?
The opportunity to play with language is passing
The challenge to think outside the box is too risky
So tell me, when
When do I get to break the rules?

*This was written during a lovely Coffee and Books session hosted by Writing Our World at Endiro Coffee on the 11th June. They said we had to try and write some poetry... so this is me reluctantly trying to break the rules*

Friday, 3 June 2016

I Have A Shepherd

I was feeling a bit down yesterday. One of my best friends (and mentor) said let's meet up for a coffee, so we did. What followed was long conversation on God. She reminded me to say my prayers and trust that God had my back. It's funny because months ago I did the same thing for her, I told her to pray, I told her to trust that God wanted the best for her, despite what everyone said. I made a list of which psalms she should say, I even sent her prayers through whatsapp. I had faith. I had an immense amount of faith that God was there just waiting for her to allow him/her to help. And she started to say the prayers, and I believe God is doing wonders in her life.

I want to say thank you. Thank you God for reminding me through my friend that you have my back.

I have a shepherd, who loves me.

I have a Shepherd who wants the best for me, even when I cannot imagine such good for myself.

Sometimes I struggle with it

But I will allow myself to be guided by #TheShepherd