Friday, January 21, 2011


Nina Saada, narrates the story of George and others among the victims of child sacrifice in Uganda. Worth watching. Here is the link to the video 
Thanks for being in the journey

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

After the Journey: Smile through all of it: The untold story part II

To return to the reading, I ponder the significance of what I just read and it helps my nerves. I rehearse what I need to say later on television…after all, this program broadcasts across Uganda. I am aware of the magnitude of the responsibility. In preparation, I write some thoughts down. I know that Betty is going to ask me one final question, “What do you want to say to your adopted parents, the Clarkes?” For her it is a punch line, for me it is a culmination of all emotions. It is the unplugging of my composure (and although I am rarely composed, on this day I really want to try), and I am not looking forward to that particular question. I don’t want to look ugly on TV! Vanity!! Prior to Rose’s Journey, I had written my Irish family a short letter. I wanted them to know what I thought and felt before the walk, what the last 20 years had meant. Even though it is difficult to sum up 20 years in a paragraph, I tried…I retrieve what I wrote in a short email entitled “How do I say thank you to my family!” As usual, the letter is too long so I try to think of ways to shorten it and come up with; “Thank you for seeing me, for choosing me, and for loving me; for instilling in me a sense of self worth; for helping me discover my sense of purpose and potential; for showing me that having hope and faith is a courageous and selfless act; and for helping me remember that even in the grayest of despair, I still could rise…

Sadly, when the moment comes for me to respond to Betty’s “what do you want to say to your Irish parents,” I remember none of what I wrote down! I am too emotional to respond to the question. The camera’s are on me. I think, “Oprah Winfrey often talks about ugly-crying faces, mine is certainly going to be one of those on national television.” I don’t care. I look over to where my Irish Father is seated (My Mum is in Ireland for a short visit with family). Next to him are my brother Tom and his wife Hilda, and right behind them on the next row of chairs, sits my friend Helen, Agnes, and Hannah. Everyone is crying well before I get through with the first sentence…!

Addressing my Father, I say, “I have always said to you both, that you loved me at a time when I thought I was unlovable; you saw me at a time when no one else did; in your family am at home, you gave me flies to,” WAIT A MINUTE, did I just say flies? I correct myself; “wings to fly…thank you for saying to me…it is good you exist, it is good you are in the world!” By the time I struggle through all that, there is not a dry eye in the audience and that is how I end my story on Untold Stories.

In the bathroom, right after the show, I try to compose myself. I am in the middle of a mini meditation when a woman who was in the audience during the show comes out of one of the toilets. I am startled by her being there as this is supposed to be a "VIP" bathroom, or so I was told. She immediately hugs me, very tightly, and keeps on hugging me until I am a little confused as to whether she is happy or sad, and until I am not able to breathe. She is crying the whole time she is hugging me. Does she realize I am already unplugged? I wonder. I hold her in return and let her cry for a while. A few minutes later, and out of her grip, she says to me, “God brought you here today just for me, just for me.” She points to herself in emphasis, does not tell me her name, even when I introduce myself and realize only when she smiles back at me, that she knows my name already! I assume she wishes not to be known, and again realize just as quickly that she is known already, to someone, she is in the journey, she is here…! We both look at each other, and cry, happy tears, a recognition that we are both grateful for the lives we each have. For the stories told and untold. For despairing and for the courage to hope. For the simple remembrance of why we matter to each other and the world around us. For how our choices and decisions have been and are instrumental to new beginnings, and to a way forward…

My comrade, without answering any of my questions walks off as quickly as she appeared, and leaves me there, still standing in the bathroom, still thinking, tears in my eyes, happy, and confused. Is she coming back? She does not, and I get no explanation as to why God brought me here for her. My curiosity tries to get the better of me and I have a burning desire to follow her and have her explain what she means, and then check myself. May be God is answering her prayers! And maybe it is none of my business what prayers He is answering. It is my business to show up, to be obedient, and to tell the story of hope, to take the steps however many. Praise the Lord Rose, Brad had said, Smile through all of it today, and so I do.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

After the Journey: Smile Amidst All of It: The Untold Story Part I

Betty Tibaleka, the host of The Untold Story TV Show on UBC (Uganda Broadcasting Company) is one of the people I meet shortly before Rose’s Journey.  My friend Tino sets up the meeting and says to me, “I think it will be good to take Rose’s Journey to a wider audience.” I agree. However, when I meet Betty a few days prior to the walk, she is not sure I have a story to tell.  At least not one for her TV show, so I know right away that the initial meeting is so that she can vet the story. She is pleasant to talk to and I can tell that people are very comfortable around her.  I am comfortable around her even though this is the first time we each are meeting the other. It takes me three hours to tell her my story.  An abridged version, and by the end of it, several tears and tissues later, we have a show.

Betty has her own story to tell, one can deduce just by looking at her.  There is as much ‘sadness’ in her eyes as there is peace about her demeanor. She remains misty eyed for quite some time which makes me wonder about her—about all the untold stories she gets to hear, about how many times a day she cries and laughs and contemplates and cries again.  I think about things like that. She says to me, "we can do the show on the 26th of July."

A day before the show, I spend all day in bed feeling poorly and credit the cold for it. I drink lots of honey-ginger-lemon teas that my friend Helen hands to me every so often and worry that I may not make the show, or that I may lose my voice which will be equally inconveniencing. None of that happens and as it turns out, on the day of the show, I wake up feeling much better and in good form to do the show. The only unplanned for inconvenience is my nerves.

When I wake up there is nobody else in the house but me. The silence and emptiness is comforting, a good milieu for contemplation and solitude, which is exactly what I need. Sadly, within a few minutes of waking up, I hear some disturbing noise over loud speakers projected throughout the neighborhood. It changes the serene environment of my house putting a dumper on my spirits and a further strain on my already tender nerves. I putter around the house trying to get my spirits up and fail miserably. There is a church not too far away from the house and I hear their music.  Everyone in the neighborhood hears their music, and preaching, and praying.  They pray in tongues sometimes. What I hear when I first wake up, is the voice of a man—the Pastor most likely—speaking a language I don’t understand.  He is praying in tongues and it is quite disturbing. I have a problem with this since I get no interpretation of the messages in tongues.  I wonder if the pastor knows this? Because I am nervous about the day, I am also selfish, irritated and annoyed by the noise, and feel guilty for the way I feel towards this church. I am a christian, should I be thinking these thoughts?

To curb my irritation, I get my bible out and just as I am about to open it, I get a text message from my friend Brad in Denver. It says, “Praise the Lord Rose, I’ll be praying! Habakkuk 1:5! Be encouraged and just smile in the midst of all of it for He is on the move and He promises to give you the words to say.”  I had sent Brad and a few other friends a text message telling them about the TV show. Brad is a very talented musician with a heart of gold. Most of his messages contain melodies and are so uplifting. I read the text message again and start laughing out loud.  Perfect timing Brad!  My unkind thoughts are interrupted by this, my first message for the day; “Praise the Lord Rose, just smile in the midst of all of it...” Amused, I settle down to a brand new cup of Helen’s modified concoction that I have made myself, and with a renewed spirit, and smile, I start reading Habakkuk chapter 1 verses 1- 5:

²How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? ³Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. ⁴Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous so that justice is perverted. The Lords answer: ⁵“Look at the nations and watch—and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told…"

Habakkuk is one of those prophets who complains a lot.  His pleas remind me that our generation is just as in much trouble as his was—oh God why don’t you do this or that…don’t you see your children are suffering…why don’t you do something about it…the problems of human kind are nothing to you…you created the heavens and the seas…why do you allow evil to prevail, why am I abandoned…I am alone in this, why don’t you help me? He complains just as we complain, and God answers.  And then he complains again, and God answers. It takes a while for him to get it and finally, in chapter 3 of his book, he prays instead of complaining!

By now, you have read my blogs.  Yes, I am well aware that I am not a prophet.  But I am a human being who sometimes behaves like this prophet. To be quite candid, I am worse. I often don’t get it! I don’t get it when I am on the way back home and all I see is the litter—sadness, grief, sorrow, blame, the poor of the poor, war and strife, disease and death, famine, injustices against children. 

When I first met George whose story I have told else where in this blog, I could not stop crying every time I prayed for him and his family.  I wondered why a good God would let something like what happened to George happen, and then remembered that He is not really responsible for the evil we cause to each other, he is not responsible for our cruelty and choices and actions.  We are!

I often think "Right, I am going to take matters in my own hands, I want to guard the weak and restore freedoms among them; I want to change the reality of the next second, the next child” Ah, I am not alone; at least I don’t think I am. We all have a lot of “I” moments and the design of life is such that someone is always responsible for the misery or the happiness in it, and somebody else is always trying to fix it.  It is so easy to feel this way when there is so much need around us, to blame God, to blame the world, the government, to blame something, anything at all, and also to try to help. For me, the point of my learning a lesson is when I fail, and realize miserably that I could not move a single stone even if I tried.  Not in a powerful revolutionary way at least.  I need faith!

Continue part II