29 June 2013
Today is one of those days you look forward to, but not look forward to at the same time. Today we headed back to the Acholi Quarter for the last time this trip.
We started our morning by doing VBS with the children. We taught them a bible verse, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” John 14:6 We told them how even though many of them do not have an earthly father, that they have a Heavenly father who loves them so much, and is always there for them. We ended the morning teaching them some of Mali’s favorite church songs. It was the sweetest thing hearing them recite the verse, and watching them sit with their eyes close and hands together praying.
After the morning session we did some writing and drawing, and then we did an arts and crafts project with their handprints. They came out so cute.Mali was able to spend time with Lydia, one of her children, watching her draw and Lydia made her a picture. After we were finished Mali also got to spend some time with Makmot, another one of her children and give him her present.
Then we had lunch where Grace and Esther shared their stories. The lives are filled with painful memories that people in the States could never imagine. The war in northern Uganda left them physically and mentally hurt, but their strength and courage are the most powerful part of their stories. Both of these women are amazing examples of perseverance, courage and strength. Gabriel another one of Mali’s children joined us for lunch too, and she was able to give him her present.
During lunch one of the little babies came in, his name is Moses. He climbed into Mali’s lap looking at the food in front of him, you could see he was hungry and thirsty. Grace gave him some beans, rice and chapatti which he quickly ate, then drank almost all of Mali’s water. Grace explained to us that sometimes the mothers will leave the house very early to work in the quarry leaving the children alone all day. Some of the children do not eat all day until their mother returns.
After lunch was the most special part of the day, but also the saddest part. All of the women gathered in the center to say good bye. We don’t like to think of it as good bye, but see you later, because we know that we will be back as soon as we can be. Mama Oyet spoke on behalf of the women, telling us how much Mali and what she is doing means to them. We thanked them for their friendship and told them that they are always in our hearts and in our prayers, that even when we are far away we are always thinking about them.
Then came a very special moment, they initiated us into the Acholi community by giving us an Acholi name. Being given a name is something that is decided by the group, each name has a special meaning and it is with much discussion that they choose a name for someone. Mali was given the name Aber Mallory. Aber means goodness, and the women chose this name for her because of the goodness of her heart, and her love for the people of Uganda. I was given the name of Adyero Rory, Adyero means whole hearted, sacrificial heart, because I support Mallory and her love for Uganda. Mallory is so proud of her name, she wants to be called Aber even when we are back in the States.
After receiving our names the women sang their good bye song to us, and each of the women came and gave us a gift of a necklace or a bracelet that they have made. The moment is beyond words, knowing how little they have but how generously they give. By the end of the song we were in tears. Then to leave on a happy note the drums came out and the dancing began. There are no words for how much we love the Acholi Quarter, the women and children there they hold a very special place in our hearts.
We returned to the Red Chilli for dinner and packing up as we prepare to head to Jinja in the morning.