OYELLA CATHERINE’S LETTER

Ciao friends!

My name is Oyella Catherine, a member of Meeting Point International, an organization that has educated my heart. How are you? “Fine” has become the least used word for these past months because of the havoc created by COVID 19. Every day, we are awakened to this terrible reality that many want to escape but unfortunately can’t because reality is the Master. Greeted by news of terror, of the ever-increasing numbers of victims taken by the virus that neither spares the young nor the old.

Through all this, I have been pushed to ask myself of that preference of still being healthy and alive, that you and I are getting now. And who is preferring you this instance? To be sincere, this period has strengthened my relationship with He who creates me (Christ). I now use my heart more to judge things happening before my eyes. With this, I have learnt that Christ has not abandoned us through these hard times and I am certain of this.

It is hard to hear of all this lockdown, increasing victims, curfew, and related terms (words) but with Christ, all become beautiful to me and I hope it does for you too. Thanks friends, and stay safe.

Yours faithfully,

OYELLA CATHERINE.

(In the photo is Oyella Catherine with her lastborn son, Lakony Marco)

“THROUGH BEAUTY, THE CURIOSITY IS BECOMING A METHOD FOR US TO BECOME ADULT.” – SEVE

“THROUGH BEAUTY, THE CURIOSITY IS BECOMING A METHOD FOR US TO BECOME ADULT.” – SEVE

(Hello Seve! I am aware that you started to do some activities with the kids of the Welcoming House. I would like to understand what you are doing, your experience here, and how this desire to come here was born in you, that is, the origin of your experience here?)

My name is Matteo Severgnini.  I am the Education Advisor at Luigi Giussani High School (LGHS).

I think that this experience started many months ago during the lockdown, when Michael Kawuki (LGHS Head Teacher), Joseph Wandera (Deputy Head Teacher), Betty (Teacher), Marceline (Director of Studies) and I, decided to go and visit our students one by one, knocking on their doors especially in Kireka and Naguru. We went there because we wanted to visit them at home, and that was a great surprise for us. It was also full of emotions because many children were so happy to see us and many of them, were telling us: “We are blessed to see you because now we know that there is still hope for us: We belong to someone.” While they were saying this, I felt that I too was belonging to someone. We were so happy after those visits, and we decided to have a meeting and lunch with Rose (MPI director) at my home. We wanted to tell her about what we saw and to judge together what had happened because it was something great and beautiful. We also wanted to share the challenges we found out among our students at their homes in order to find some solutions and hypotheses. When we started to tell her about our worries, Rose stopped us and challenged us in a very incredible way: “Okay! What you saw, is very important and also the problems are quite important. We need to face them, for this reason, I am asking you to write me a report. But I want to ask you a question. How many schools in the world do you know that have been doing these kinds of visits? Really, how many schools in your opinion, are going out encountering and meeting their own students one by one at their homes?” She continued: “If you don’t understand the origin of your experience, also the consequences will die very soon. The most important thing is to understand what and who managed to move your heart and made you move and visit your students.” This was a great discovery for us because it was true, we were not aware of the origin of our action. While we were thinking and being challenged by this question, we thought that the only point that moved our hearts was the fact that we are loved. That Michael, Betty, Joseph, Marceline and I, have been living and we are living a love that is for free and that was the origin that pushed us also to go and visit our students. There is someone (who we are saying is Christ), that is loving us so much and pushed us to go and visit all our students. I was struck because I am always thinking that the revolutionary thing is what I can do. Instead, the revolutionary thing, the novelty, is the One that is conquering my heart, that is moving my heart to go and visit all my students. So, since that lunch, a seed entered in my heart because while we were visiting our students, we came once also here to the Welcoming House to stay with the children for one full day. I found myself belonging to this place! During that very lunch after this provocation of Rose, I asked her: “Rose, if I must follow what is happening to my life, I would like also to go to Welcoming House to visit these friends of mine. I would like to stay once a week with them because I think that staying with them, is also another way for me to discover the One that is conquering my heart. I also asked my Headteacher and the other administrators of the school permission to absent myself once a week from school. They said, “for us, it is fine because if you are doing something that is helping you, we believe it can also be something that is helping Luigi Giussani High School.” Starting from there, I decided to come here every Friday morning at 9:30 am. We do study together up to 12:30 or 1 pm and after, we usually watch cartoons together up to 2 pm. All the assignments and lessons that we are doing are related to the cartoons that we are watching. We study English and Mathematics, having in mind the cartoon. This is the origin or the reason as to why I have been coming here for the last two months.

In these past 2 months, what struck me the most is that all of us, are made to be happy. Whenever I am entering that gate, the way that the kids are welcoming me is so beautiful because they are so happy. The second thing that struck me is that this happiness comes from the fact that there is a relationship. They are always waiting for me and on the other side, I am also waiting for them. Every Friday morning, I am very happy to know that I am coming here. The third thing is that we are made for something great in life and for this reason, there is a kind of seriousness with which we are doing our assignments. And why should we be serious with our task? Because we perceive that also this small task that we are facing every Friday, that is, Mathematics and English, these simple exercises are done to become adult, that is, to grow. Facing small tasks with heart is helping us to understand that the task in life is deep. We are made for something great. And the other thing is that the curiosity to grow is helped by beautiful things, for this reason, we decided to watch every Friday a cartoon that is not just a simple cartoon. Usually, they are very meaningful cartoons. We are watching Toy Story, which is an animated cartoon about belongingness. And we are watching Kung Fu Panda, that is instead about discovering that life is given for something great because Someone made us with this greatness. In order to be great, you need to have friends. Through beauty, curiosity is becoming a method for us to become an adult.

(How has this experience here helped you to do your work at LGHS?)

What I am facing here is helping me at LGHS but also, it is true the opposite! The work at school is helping me to come here as well because life is one. Let me say that the work that I am doing at school, is helping me for example, to be faithful to this moment because when I am here with these 40 kids, I have always in mind this point, “But if Michael, Wandera, Betty, and Marceline were here, in which way would they face this moment?” These people, though they are not here, are helping me to stay with these kids. From here, I am learning a simplicity of belongingness, because all these kids, the thing that they really show me, is that in order to live, you need to belong. All these kids while we are doing assignments together, they are always depending on you in the sense that they are looking for you, maybe to do 2+2 =4. They are there with you, depending on you, and following you. This is a kind of simplicity of saying, “I belong to you, and if I don’t belong to you, I am not even able to do 2+2.” I need this kind of simple awareness in belonging, that is the real freedom.

Thank you.

Story compiled by Vicent.

(13Th November 2020)

THIS KIND OF GAZE SAVES EVERYTHING FOR ME!

My name is Lugamba Vicent, a child of Meeting Point International (MPI). I stay in Naguru, one of the cultural centers of MPI. I stay with 2 brothers Jimmy Torach and Francis Munvaneza, and another adult Emmanuel Kintu, our guardian. We are not specifically of the same tribe or lineage but we’re brothers linked together by a heartfelt relationship which was born from an encounter with Meeting Point International (MPI) and we’re a happy family.

I joined MPI in 2013, it found me hopeless especially about my studies due to the fact that my mother, a single parent, could not manage to pay for me in a secondary school. My father had run away from his responsibilities ever since 2005 up to now, because of alcoholism which had created a lot of violence at home. Therefore, it was our mother toiling and moiling to put food on the table. It was not easy but she always did her best. When I finished primary school in 2012, it seemed impossible to join high school and I was left in front of the face of uncertainty. During that moment of uncertainty about my future, God surprises me with a gift of Aunt Rose who offered to take me to school and I was taken to a very beautiful school, Luigi Giussani high school, in 2013. Here I experienced a lot of beauty and a different kind of education that embraced the whole of me. It was not only an education to get a good job in the future but one that introduced me to the totality of life. I spent 6 years in high school and finished in 2018. In this new family, I always feel loved, important and hopeful. The way she gazed at me at first sight was different yet very attractive, she embraced me as her own like she had known me for years! There is a kind of freedom I have attained in being a son to this family. I am now pursuing a degree in dental surgery at Makerere University. Ever since 2013, it has been a continual journey of discovering myself and the truth about reality. This is helping me to live life responsibly. I now have many mothers, that is, the women of meeting point international, who are embracing me always as their biological son and are educating me a lot through their simplicity and openness in their hearts.

let me share with you one of the things that struck me and educated me at the same time during the period of COVID-19 total lockdown of the country. In that period, almost everyone was hit down financially and it was only survival for the fittest especially for the low-income earners. Everyone was struggling to get something to provide for their families, and whatever little thing they managed to get, it was theirs and could not share with anyone because it was little. This seemed cogent to me, but here comes a very different experience that reawakened me and proposed an attractive way of living, a different mentality and a new knowledge.
At a certain point during the lockdown, the government decided to distribute some food to sustain people in different areas. However, it was a struggle to get this offer due to a lot of corruption among the trusted food distributors, this also affected us and we did not receive the offer despite the fact that we had been registered for it. A few days after that event, about four women of MPI came on different days to visit us and shared with us the little food they had received from the government. They did not know that we had missed but they still thought about us! This was a great provocation to me and left me naïve because, in the first place, I knew that it is by having much that we can give. Instead, for the mothers, it is very clear that no man has nothing to offer. It is not about being rich or poor, having much or little, but it is about the heart and a relationship with another (you are our children) and living and offering yourself for the one you love. This experience educated me a lot and arose in me an urgent admiration for their eye in front of reality because this kind of eye saves every moment and everything. I am thankful to God who embraces me every instant through this family of Meeting Point International, I do not take for granted this gift of belonging. Indeed, we are one heart and we are international. I know there are a thousand “thank you’s” from the so many lives you have touched in many ways. Thank you Aunt Rose for embracing me always as a son.

( In the photo is Jimmy to the left, Francis in the middle and Vicent to the right)

“I thank God that He gave me you” – Aron

Aron dances with his sister Priscilla

Ciao Aunt Rose,

Hope you are well, I write this to tell you that I am very happy and thankful for everything that is now happening in my life, first of all for my new contract 2020, secondly for the love and care that you have shown me, thirdly for loving my family and lastly for not being only a Director but friend. Every day I ask myself where I would be if I didn’t meet Meeting point international, where would I be if I didn’t meet Aunt Rose <maybe I would even have become nobody, maybe drunkard, maybe a thief or even a drug user but Meeting Point international gave me a new life, a starting point for me and my family and a new chance to live again with a reason and a meaning. A lot of challenges and bad things has been happening in my life and in the life of my siblings in the past years, for example, the loss of both my parents that broke us down completely to zero, we became hustlers that we could do any job just to survive and to pay for home bills which weren’t the case before. I was lost, broken and hopeless. All my relatives run away from us thinking that we are just a burden. But now see, we are still here pushing on with life and we can still afford to live tomorrow, I thank God the He gave me you and you gave me life and were to start from and you introduced me to a group of people who even don’t know who I am but love more and more. For sure working with Meeting Point International has made me somebody today, the education that I have received and still receiving from you, Alberto and the movement is very beautiful. The new friends that I have met in the movement and in the office have changed my life and have given me joy. Now my family has met a new family that loves them. Finally, we have found a place to belong.

Thank you, Aunt Rose.

Aron Wokorach.

ANYWAR RICHARD’S STORY

ANYWAR RICHARD’S STORY

It was on 22/01/2020 when Anywar Richard one of the children once under the DSP support came with his mother Angwech Mary to MPI main office in Kitintale. His mother told Aunt Rose the director of MPI that her son takes too much alcohol that has made him fall sick. He was really badly off with his hands wounded and he was so weak. Angwech had no money to treat him but when she approached Aunt Rose she was advised to take Richard to Butabika hospital.

Therefore, Aunt Rose requested me to accompany Richard to the hospital. When we reached Butabika, we managed to see the doctor who asked him questions. She asked him how much quantity of waragi (alcohol) he took per day, the good thing he was open and told her everything. He said he could not count how much since he begins drinking very early in the morning until midnight and begins every day. The doctor asked him whether he smokes and he said he smokes mjanji a Tobacco for Indians. The doctor also asked him where he gets money for buying it because it’s expensive, but he didn’t give an answer. Then the doctor decided to admit him in the Alcohol and Drug unit and he accepted. When I went back to check on him after five days, there was a big change. The wounds had dried up, he was very happy and he promised me that he will never drink alcohol or smoke again. He told me that doctors counseled him well. I also got a chance to talk to the doctor and he told me that they gave him good counseling and they were very happy about his response. He was on medication and he looked very okay. The doctors were also very happy because he was helping them to carry patients who disturbed them. I Left the hospital and promised to pick him on 3/02/2020 the day the doctor suggested that he would be discharged.

Anywar poses for a photo

On 3rd 02, 2020 I went back to pick Richard from the hospital. I went with some clothes and shoes that Aunt Rose gave me to take to him. In fact, they were of great help because the clothes and shoes that he went with had been torn by the other patients (the mad people). He was dressed in the uniform of patients. When I reached there they had changed him to another ward of the patients who be waiting to be discharged. One patient took me there and when Richard saw me from a distance, he came out with a big smile and welcomed me well and showed me his hands that had completely healed. The wounds had dried completely and his body was ok. He told me he wants to go out of the hospital and appreciate Aunt Rose for what she has done for him and promise her that he will never take alcohol again. Then on that very day, he was discharged from the hospital and went to his home in Kireka, Banda B1. Therefore on the next day 4/02/2020 on a Tuesday, We had a women’s meeting in Kireka where he also joined us, knelt down before Aunt Rose and appreciated her and promised her that he will never drink alcohol or to smoke Mjanji anymore.  He said he has been working in a club but he will never go back because he may be tempted to drink again. He is looking for a job in order to take care of his family. Richard has a wife and two children.  He is not renting since he stays in the house of his father.

I would like to thank Aunt Rose for her efforts towards helping Richard though the rest of the society had abandoned him for his character. With Aunt Rose, he was not reduced to that and this helped him to at least understand value of his life as he even promised to stop drinking Alcohol. We hope that this awareness will stay with him forever in order for him to live a better life. However, for continued checkups, the doctors advised that I take back Richard on 3rd March so they can review him farther. I also appreciate the doctors of Butabika for the care they gave to Richard.

From Kabanyana Jackline, a social worker of MPI.