MPI-THE AUTHENTIC “SANITIZER”
(Opiru Sunday’s Journey with MPI)
For a person who has not been part of Meeting Point International (MPI) for too long, it is hard to come to terms with the fact that Opiru Sunday alias Sanitizer joined MPI (Naguru) in August 2022. The popularity she enjoys among the women of MPI-Naguru is admirable. Thanks to her famous nickname, “Sanitizer” which she got from the MPI women during her first days.
While the women were discussing their ways of alleviating stress, Opiru quietly processed what she was hearing. When her turn to talk came, she said “Every time I am stressed out, I pull out my small sanitizer (to mean alcohol) and I drink it. Everyone in the meeting burst into a fit of laughter and started to call her Sanitizer that time.
Her nickname and the joy with which those that call her pronounce it will compel you to want to know exactly who Sanitizer is. She is a 30-year-old vibrant lady with an aura of youthfulness that makes her noticeable at all times. Opiru has five children in total and only one of them is being supported by MPI. It is hard to resist the temptation of asking why she is utterly Jovial. You might wonder if she has any problems until she shows you the scars of a hard life.
By the time Opiru joined MPI Naguru, she was selling tea by the roadside to survive. However, before she ended up by the roadside, she had already tasted the bitter side of life.
Opiru had quite a normal life while growing up until she got pregnant in Senior three in 2008. Because she was the last born girl out of three, her parents hoped she would at least get a proper education because her siblings never had a chance to go to school. Her parents were so angry to the extent that they denounced her. Meanwhile, her boyfriend, the father of the child had fled to Sudan because he was afraid of the consequences of his action. Her parents cut all sorts of support from her and they did not want her anymore in their home. It was at this point that Opiru decided to relocate to Kampala where she hoped she would find what to do. Life couldn’t get any worse when she came to the capital. The child’s father who was sending some financial help died in a motor accident while in Sudan.
In 2016, Opiru fell in love with a workmate in a security agency where she had been working. Unfortunately, it was not too long until all the workers of the agency were laid off because the company ran bankrupt. This meant Joblessness to the couple. By this time, Opiru had a child with her new man. When they were no longer working, it became hard to care of the family. Her husband did not want to work at all. He would simply stay home sometimes and Opiru had to wash clothes for people to get food. She would wash clothes at any amount no matter how many they were.
Opiru tried to connect her husband to her big brother for a job. Fortunately, he got the job and started to work. The saddening part is that Opiru would never see any of the money her husband worked for. Even with her husband working, she was the one feeding the children with the money she got from washing clothes. She thought she had seen the worst until 2021 when Opiru’s husband became abusive on top of being negligent.
Her husband stopped providing on the pretext of his company not paying him. Taking care of two children by herself became a huge burden. She barely had anyone to talk to. “I even almost lost my life on various occasions” Opiru spoke as she showed me her scars. “My husband connected a coil to power so that he could beat me with it. Thank God my son had come with people to rescue me by that time.” She continued.
Opiru would make sure she spent wisely. “We could eat five thousand shillings for three days. We would buy Posho and eat it with boiled silverfish.” Opiru said. “The most annoying part is that my husband would come back home and eat that very food top of complaining about how it wasn’t prepared well.” She proceeded. Opiru was so distressed that she would cry every time. She would walk in the streets while wailing because it was too heavy for her to carry. She had no one to confide in at all.
“To keep my first child in school, the second one had to stay home because I could not afford to take both of them, to school.” Opiru narrated her story with a reflective tone. At this time, she had exhausted her capital for the tea business because she was torn between buying food for her children and investing in her business. She preferred to preserve her children by getting food.
One day Opiru decided to visit her brother to tell him what was going on. She was so broken that she could not stop crying. When she never found him at his place, she sat at his door and cried herself pale. A certain lady that was passing by came and asked her why she was crying. Opiru could barely express her pain in words. She was allowed by this woman to first cry then she will start to talk. Later when Opiru narrated her story to this woman a conversation about MPI came up. The lady offered to take her to MPI.
Before they could leave, the lady told Opiru, “I cannot promise you food or money but I promise you will be a happy woman when you encounter the people I am taking you to.” When she attended her first meeting, she was amazed at what she saw the women do. They were all happy and vibrant as though they lived in another world. She was introduced to the women.
“I am looking for nothing but peace,” Opiru emphasized when she was given a chance to talk to her fellow women. “I am tired of crying every day”. The women she found there that day for the meeting encouraged and advised her to trust God and be resilient in her battle.
Despite her newly found peace at MPI, Opiru’s husband grew worse in character. Opiru’s happiness became her husband’s source of bitterness. He beat her badly until she bled for a while. Her husband always accused her of being a prostitute saying she sold herself to get money that would take care of her children. He was angry at her because she had found happiness despite the status quo. Opiru was consistent with meetings at MPI that helped her to relieve her stress. “The songs we sing at MPI cannot leave you the same. As one of the senior song composers at MPI, I am always excited to get my creative juice flowing. The music isolates me from my stress.” Opiru excitedly told me in one of our conversations.
Auntie Rose (Executive director of MPI) one time offered to visit Opiru to speak to her husband. It helped so much because her advice and intervention tamed him for a while. Her marriage is not perfect but at least her sanity is protected.
Opiru started to learn more about who she was as she interacted more with Auntie Rose. “My biggest treasure is that I know who I am. I have no limitations even when life brings its ups and downs. The value that I have is more precious than my circumstances.
I am grateful to Auntie Rose and MPI for taking my son to school because I would have never been able to afford it. I am also glad I can look forward to facing another day by the grace of God.” Opiru concludes her story.
It is an absolute pleasure to behold Opiru smiling endlessly while with her fellow women at MPI who are now her “authentic sanitizer”.
Written by Vancy Tomson