Koreyo Phiona’s Journey with MPI

“When I joined Meeting Point International (MPI) last year as an employee, I faced a question that was simple yet tricky. Who am I?” Koreyo Phiona, a social worker at MPI remembered her first days at MPI. No one asked her this question but the atmosphere of MPI was communicating. The women of MPI, the children, and her workmates brought a new experience into her life.

“I wasn’t close to my mother like I was with my father. This gap has affected me until now, I am still fighting my past.” Phiona took me back to the genesis of everything.

“One Day when I was in the field doing my social work, I beheld a life-changing moment. I did not know a mother and a daughter could be so close until I saw Adoch Clare, my workmate embracing her mother, laughing and playing with pure happiness.” Phiona continued. “I envied Clare because my mother brought me up with an iron fist. She was a stranger to me. I remember when I was young, I loved to pretend to be allergic to millet bread. My father would buy me eggs every time they made millet bread. He would say, ‘Give her whatever she likes.’

It was not too long until my secret was uncovered. My mother prepared millet bread when my father travelled and she forced me to eat it. I tried to act as though I wanted to throw up so I stood to run out and she raised her voice ‘Do not dare move out!’. I ate the millet bread and nothing happened to me. From that time, it became so hard for me to be free with my mother. I could only share with my father what was going on in my life.” Phiona proceeded.

By the time Phiona was awestruck by the relationship Clare and her mother had, she (Phiona) had been taking even more than a month without hearing from her mother.

Koreyo Phiona in the MPI premises.

“When I asked Clare about how she maintains a beautiful relationship with her mother. I realized that it did not happen by mistake. Clare told me ‘My mother was the toughest woman I ever knew until she joined MPI. Something happened to her along the way. Before, it was as though she hated happiness and joy but new life sprung out of her. My siblings and I were fortunate enough to join MPI too and seeing our mother Joyfully dancing with her fellow women was a beautiful spectacle. The same joy was brought into our home. My siblings and I started to love each other more. We stopped reducing ourselves to our  mistakes and judging ourselves  basing on what we do. Right now we can turn on the music and dance as a family for no reason but just because MPI has taught us to love life and appreciate it. Happiness is free. The happiness the women of MPI have is contagious. How can one resist it?’

I made up my mind to rebuild my relationship with my mother at all costs after learning from Clare’s experience.” Phiona said.

Smiling, Phiona proceeded, “I decided to start by calling my mother. After calling her consecutively for a week, she wondered if everything was okay because she was used to the gap she had created. I told her I was okay and I just loved to check in on her. My relationship with my mother is not where I want it to be but I am grateful for the journey so far. Discovering my value as a person has opened my eyes to reality. None of us is perfect so why would I judge anyone for what they do? I look at Rose Busingye (MPI Executive director) in wonderment. I wonder how she can bring  people who have been deemed  ‘outcasts’ by society close to her and still look at them as humans that deserve all the love there is to give.

I had started transferring my brokenness to my four-year-old daughter when she schooled me about my harsh words and tone. When my daughter did something I never liked one day, I attempted to shout at her and she immediately told me, ‘Mummy, I don’t like the way you talk to me. If you are angry at me, call me and speak to me as a human being and I will apologize and do better.’ My eyes welled up with tears in a wink of an eye. How was a four-year-old more human than me? Where was this coming from? I broke down and started recollecting everything.

Adoch Clare and Phiona in the MPI premises.

I realized that my mother had grown up in the same environment as I and she passed it on to me. She was in an environment full of condemnation and reproach. I used to also beat my little girl sometimes to discipline her but I realised it was not working. Clare advised me to try a different approach by denying my daughter something she loved. When she failed to do her homework one day, I decided to buy everyone else ice cream except her. She was so disgruntled that she could not apologize enough. That was the last time we had a problem with not doing homework. I saw the insufficiency of brutality and harshness and I learned to educate with reason. Even the children we might look at as little know their value and they will demand it.

I was disappointed because I was passing on the same pain to my daughter. After encountering MPI, I made it my mission to break the chain. It is not easy, to be honest,  I sometimes fail at it. However, I pick myself up when my daughter reminds me, ‘Mom, you are shouting again.’

Do I know who I am now? Yes, I do. I am a value’, not because of what I possess or who I am but because I am a human being. Everyone around me is equally a value and I ought to treat them the way I would like to be treated.”

Written by Vancy Tomson.


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