“…knowledge acquired from the MPI dialogues and my conversations with Rose reminded me of my value and taught me that I needed to start being the protagonist in my life by…”
by Kisuki Simon Nimrod, DSP Social Worker.
Life often has hard corners to maneuver but can be simple depending on one’s perspective. This is how Anyiri Sarah, a mother of 3, guardian to 5, summarizes her experiences and responsibilities today. Even without an education, she was the only child among her siblings with considerable success at a young age being the one that held her family together financially. Once she got married and a few years later, her husband impregnated a maid Sarah had employed for the sole purpose of giving said maid an opportunity to sustain her family.
Once she found out about the pregnancy, she separated from her husband and left with their 3 children in the guise of visiting an aunt. Sarah describes leaving her husband as the most heartbreaking and painful experience she has ever been through not to mention the hardest choice she has ever had to make. Sarah’s Aunt allowed her to stay for as long as she needed. However, due to depression over the end of her marriage, betrayal, worry for her children, and the fear that she may be HIV positive, Sarah looked and felt sick, so much so she could neither stand nor sit on her own. This is when she was rushed to Reach Out for testing and later Mulago for treatment for different infections. Luckily she was HIV-negative.
This is the period during which she was introduced to the Meeting Point International (MPI) Executive Director, Rose Busingye having heard about how big an impact she was making in the lives of many of the women that resided around the Kireka-Acholi quarters. She says at first she thought her husband would come and take them back home, but due to his emphatic refusal to go for HIV testing with her till date, she couldn’t trust him enough to take him back.
Sarah had some little money left after her treatment that she used for rent and started a small retail shop that grew over time. She later joined a savings group where she saved consistently using whatever she could spare from her shop’s profits. However, she was unfortunately robbed and she didn’t get a single coin when it was time to share the money which led to all her plans like restocking her shop and buying out her landlord being cancelled which depressingly meant starting from scratch again.
Life became so hard to the extent that Sarah could not afford any underwear for herself and some days she couldn’t afford a meal for her family. By this time, she had started attending MPI dialogues but was still timid about confiding her problems to Rose. One day she followed Jacky, an MPI social worker at the time, and asked her for some money. Jacky gave her ugx.5000 and advised her to find a source of income because requesting for money isn’t sustainable. This encounter happened after Rose advised them to feel free to go to her with their problems. She gathered her courage and went to meet Rose who she says gladly offered her much needed advice and help. Sarah was at the time also suffering from a terrible skin infection and Rose gave her medicine to apply to her body and kept inquiring about how she was fairing, not to mention surprising her with underwear at a later date!
“Jacky and Rose’s eagerness to help, knowledge acquired from the MPI dialogues and my conversations with Rose reminded me of my value and taught me that I needed to recognize that one way of the ways I can be the protagonist in my life is by using my capabilities to survive in my reality rather than feel sorry for myself.” recalls Sarah. She then used the ugx.5000/= as capital to start up a cassava frying business which is still running very successfully to date. She is very proud of it because the returns have enabled her to sustain her family, made it a little easier to take care of 5 more children in need and contribute for their school requirements since MPI caters for their school fees.
From these lessons, Sarah now testifies and advises fellow MPI women during the community dialogues on how they can be more proactive in their lives. She encourages the mothers to be companions in their children’s lives the same way MPI offers companionship to them. She urges them to take responsibility of finding out if for example the school fees paid by MPI was cleared at the school, how their children are performing in school, make sure they do their homework, etc…and not leave the full responsibility of the child to MPI even if MPI already takes such responsibility.
“Rose’s words to the women are a very strong instrument that will always drive you to something great when fully understood” says Sarah. In one of the personal dialogues she had with Rose, she was advised to always write down her daily expenditure and then see how to narrow it down given the other demands she always has at hand. This taught her to be in control of what’s hers, to leave within her means at whatever financial position she finds herself because that is the only way she will not fail to fulfil her responsibilities.
All this combined with how loved Sarah has felt since the day she was welcomed into Meeting Point International (MPI), has moved her into being responsible for those she encounters. Not only her children but her relatives, MPI members, people in her community or any human being for that matter. She says that Rose’s constant encouragement to remind ourselves to not only be mindful about ourselves and what is ours, but for others as well, is what provoked her heart.
“I do not regret the day I decided to settle here because it has given me the opportunity to keep discovering who I really am.” Sarah added.
Today, with the support from donors like AVSI Foundation and Support International, among others, MPI is supporting all her 8 children and this gives her some leeway to take care of their other needs. One cannot imagine that the story behind this woman’s life is hers because of how happy she is, and how she conducts herself despite her circumstances. This tells us that we all need to be loved and welcomed without putting anything but humanity under consideration.