SUCCESS STORY FOR ABER GRACE

 

I am Aber Grace a 43-year-old married woman living with my family of 14 members in a three-roomed house in Naguru slum, Kampala. I stay with my husband Denis, 6 biological children and the rest are children I welcomed into my home. When I was growing up, I always loved helping others and sharing things with them. I got married to Denis whose wife had abandoned with four children and his youngest child at that time was only 3years old. I embraced them and took care of them as my own. I joined Meeting Point International (MPI) and I was able to meet Rose the director who educated my heart even more about the human value. “My entire family was welcomed, loved and cared for by MPI and I still continue to ask myself who I’m that I am looked at in this special way by people who do not know me. This has guided me more to welcome people wherever I go because it is a beautiful way of living. I am not afraid of what we shall eat or if we will fit in our small house because I choose to live in the moment that God has placed in front of me” – Aber Grace.

A few years back, my husband was not happy with how I was welcoming people into our home because of our low family income. It brought wrangles between us but I continued to respectfully educate him as to why I was doing this. It is lovely that he is now very welcoming to these children and keeps encouraging me to bring them home since he understood the value of a human being that I had always been emphasizing. I am a cook in a school while Denis does casual work so we mainly live off daily income but we are very happy. Rose continuously teaches us that our human value is greater than sickness, poverty, richness, race, ability or disability. “When your heart is moved, you find yourself doing things that makes other people wonder what kind of heart you have yet it is just that you let your heart be with what it was made for” – Aber Grace.

One of the children I welcomed is Muliisa Sam, a 28years old Rwandese refugee who lost both parents when they were still living in Ntungamo (Western Uganda). He is also a graduate from the University. “I was working as a security guard at a construction site but unfortunately, there was a robbery and I was held accountable. I was arrested and spent some good time in Luzira Prison. When I was released, my family and friends did not welcome me back, all my academic documents and National Identification card (ID) were all stolen from the house that I had been living in before. My life was very hard but I happened to meet Grace while in the community and told her the story of my life. She welcomed me, gave me a home, food and told me not to worry about anything. Her husband helped me get another ID and I am slowly following the process to be able to get back all my documents. I have never felt so loved and welcomed to the point that this home is a rehabilitation centre for me. Grace’s entire family is united and we care for one another” – Muliisa Sam.

The other child is Mutagambwa Aloysius, a 20-year-old Mukiga by tribe. He came from Kabale (Western Uganda) with a truck carrying bananas (matooke) which they were to supply in Naguru Go-down market (Kampala). He was working as a casual labourer but he was left behind by the truck yet it was his first time in Kampala and did not know anyone. He resorted to sleeping under a stall in the market for about a month when the people around reported to the local authorities. Grace’s husband heard about Aloysius and brought him home. “I have been welcomed by a family that loves and cares for me even without knowing me and I wish to stay with them forever for. I try to help her with any work around because there is no way I can ever repay her for this love and care.” – Aloysius.

Amito Lucy a 14year old has been under Grace’s care since 2018. Lucy was living with her paternal grandmother within Naguru but the time came andshe was chased on allegations that she was indisciplined and lazy. She then started sleeping on verandas of bars yet Naguru which is very unsafe. Lucy used to hung around the school where Grace cooks food and was noticed because she was always very dirty and looked sad. Grace started feeding Lucy and tried to reunite her with her grandmother in vain. Since they were not welcomed on several occasions, Grace took up looking after Lucy and is happy that Lucy has also been enrolled under MPI’s Distance Support Program to attain a good education. “For all this time I have been with Lucy, she is disciplined, hardworking and relates well with the rest of the family not as I had been told before.” – Grace.

Okello Richard, a 19 year old boy who is a paternal orphan has been living with me since 2017 because his mother was having difficulty pushing him through school and providing for the family needs. Richard’s mother is a neighbour to Grace’s family in their home village. Richard sat for his senior four final examinations (Uganda Certificate of Education) recently from Luigi Giussani High School. This has been possible through support from Meeting Point International and also because of the relationship that Grace created with him which brought him close to us. ”My mother is the happiest because she never saw me obtaining a good education. Grace whom I look at as my second mother has loved me from way back and still continues to make me feel like her son which is very special to me. I may not be related to her by blood but this kind of heart is more special and it is keeping us together.” – Richard.

In the photo above from left to right are Amito Lucy (in yellow), Aber Grace, Muliisa Sam (male in the back), Akello Mercy (front left), Mutagambwa Aloysius (striped shirt) and Denis (extreme right). Mercy and Denis are Grace’s step children whom she has lived with for many years. These are some of the children we found available at home.

Grace and her husband are living happily with this big family and she commented that although things have not been easy for them, God has always watched over them and they are surviving happily. “I encourage everyone one else to allow their hearts to be educated by what Rose is doing because I personally feel a lot of joy in my heart when I am there for others. I always feel pain when someone else is suffering because I imagine if it were me or my child being in that same situation” – Grace.

Compiled by Hope Clare Lakaraber

01st February 2021

 

A COMPANIONISHIP RE-AFFIRMING MY VALUE.

A COMPANIONSHIP RE-AFFIRMING MY VALUE.

My name is Aduke Christine and I am 35 years old, I joined Meeting Point International (MPI) in 2011, I have now been a member for nine years now. I come from Kaberamaido in the Eastern part of Uganda, am a kumam by tribe but I speak Acholi language as well. My husband is called Labeja Carlos and he is an Acholi from Agago district in the northern part of Uganda. I got to learn Acholi from his family members. I stay with Carlos, my young sister (Lucy 14years) and my two children (Sandra 11 years and Emma 5years). We stay in Kireka D. I met Carlos several years back when I was still at school, I was in senior four by then. I got pregnant and gave birth to Sandra, I didn’t go back to school again. I started to stay with him from then onwards. Living with Carlos was not bad, we would have arguments and fights but we would solve them. However, in 2019, we had a major fight, he beat me up, abused me verbally and chased me from his place. There was no place I was left to go to other than my parents’ home that is in Kireka D.

My parents gave me little money to hire a small pickup car and collect my belongings, for Lucy and my children. We were staying in Kireka C by then when Carlos abused me. My parents welcomed me into their house but living there as an adult was very hard since, in most of our cultures, a grown woman is supposed to be in her home regardless of the problems she is facing. Around the same period, I was having problems with Carlos, I also lost my job. I was working at Darling, a company that makes hair products. This made life harder. Even with these problems I was facing, I would still attend the weekly meetings that the women of MPI would have with Rose. But I had quickly turned from the lively woman I used to be during the meetings to a shell of that. I would go for the meetings, sit and just look on. I was very depressed and stressed out. What made it even harder is that I heard Carlos had got another woman.  I would sit and watch other women, they all looked happy like they were not facing any problems. Soon they noticed that I wasn’t happy, I then narrated to them what I was facing. Most of them shared with me the problems that they were having and I realised that some of them had bigger and more problems than I did. What perplexed me is that they still managed to remain happy amidst the problems.

I was counselled by some of them, the social workers like Jackie and Teddy, and aunt Rose who reminded me of my value. All these made me stronger and able to face the hardships I was facing without reducing myself to them. With this new awareness, life became simpler for me. I now concentrated on making myself a better person. My mother suggested that I should join in in her business. She brews local alcohol commonly known as ‘marua’ here in Uganda. I agreed to her suggestion and joined her business. I then started to save every coin through the saving groups that we have, I was doing this on a weekly basis. In January 2020, through the savings I got, I managed to buy a small piece of land in Kireka D close to my parents’ home. I continued to work hard to save some money so as I could construct a house for myself. My mother supported me as well, she lent me some money to help me with my plans. Within some months, I had started constructing my one-roomed house. When I was almost finished with it, my husband heard that life was getting better for me and he decided to meet me. He apologised for what he did to me and wanted us to get back together. I really hesitated to have him back in my life and it took some time before I really forgave him but I finally did. I forgave him because of the teachings that I had received from the meetings with Rose and other women. I also couldn’t imagine myself with another man besides the father of my children considering my age as well. My heart was free and whatever he didn’t make me become a bitter person because I knew my value. He requested to participate in constructing the house though I had done most of the work already.  He provided money for cementing it and connecting electricity into it. Today, I eat and even get satisfied, this is because I open and close my door for myself with no query from anyone. My husband works as a window and door fitter, he now provides some support for the family. We are planning to expand the house when we get some money so as we can have a bedroom as well.

I noticed that when the relationship between me and my husband changed, my children also became happier. One of them called Sandra, changed so much. When we used to fight a lot with my husband, she would cry and even refuse to eat. Her social worker noticed that she was always sad and less lively compared to other children. But when we sorted out things with my husband, she became happy, livelier and she opened up a lot. She is now able to express herself much better than she could before. I then realised that the relationship parents have with each other really affects our children.

Everyone needs a shoulder that they can lean on in times of need because a problem will never overcome or suffocate you if you are really attached to someone who loves you and helps you realise your human value and dignity. One that can encourage, advise and always welcomes you at all times. For me, I have Meeting Point International and this is where I belong.

Compiled by Adoch Mary Clare

28/01/2021

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)