Ten months ago I was getting ready for my big trip to Africa, excited about the workshop and the people I’d be meeting, wondering if my new red shoes were really the right choice and dutifully ingesting my newly prescribed and seemingly exotic malaria pills. Little did I know what was about to hit me, really.
Yesterday our mail carrier Bump (recently he revealed that he got this nickname when he was a baby, regularly falling out of his crib and bumping his head – his real name happens to be Jerald) arrived at the doorstep with an impossibly humongous package (a canvas bag, actually) from Uganda.
Inside were gifts, letters, pictures, report cards and other treasures from the children at St. Mary Kevin Orphanage Motherhood.
How could I have known ten months ago that I would be sitting on my living room floor fighting back tears as I read heartfelt words of gratitude from 13-year old orphans who are finally getting the chance to continue their education?
Allow me to list the top ten “who knews:”
1. Who knew that my favorite CD would be the St. Mary Kevin Orphanage children’s choir?
2. Who knew that I would be learning the intricacies of grant writing?
3. Who knew that my house would be overrun by bags of beaded African jewelry, boxes of Change the Truth brochures and t-shirts and a wild array of African crafts?
4. Who knew there would be something called Change the Truth anyway?
5. Who knew that my kitchen would become the headquarters for a not-for-profit organization?
6. Who knew my backseat would become a collection point for soccer balls and used kids clothing?
7. Who knew my friends and family could be this supportive, patient and generous?
8. Who knew that a kid named Opio Nicolas would appear in my dreams at night and cause me to wake up wondering what else can I do to help?
9. Who knew I’d be phasing out my portrait business?
10. Who knew I’d be going back to Africa so soon?
10(a). Who knew I’d still be keeping this blog??
“Gloria, are you changing the truth or is the truth changing you?” Eddie asked me that not long after I got back from Uganda. His question still rings in my ears.
The Wizards, Kansas City’s professional soccer team recently donated twenty-five soccer balls to send over to the kids. I’m going to put them in the impossibly big bag Bump delivered, stuff it with clothes my friend Sondra donated to the cause, and send the bag back to Uganda.
(Wizards' PR person Erin delivers soccer balls to my car)
To all of you who have joined me in this effort, I say thanks. I am constantly surprised, amazed and delighted by your unwavering encouragement and support. It means so much to me, and, of course, means more than any of us can really understand to the kids we are helping.
One of the letters that was in the big bag was from Billy Bonny Tumusiime, a fifteen-year old. He sent me this picture of himself, all decked out for school. His letter, intended for his Change the Truth sponsor, ended this way:
“Indeed I am very proud of you who has made my dreams come true.”
As I said, I had no idea what was about to hit me ten months ago as I carefully shopped for just the right wrinkle-free, bug resistant pants and shirts for my big trip to Africa.