Could you tell I was crying as you dropped me off at the airport last Saturday? I think we were talking about french toast. Important stuff. That was me trying to disguise my tears.
As I got out of the car and unloaded my bags, you could sense the little shake in my voice and I could see the tears in your eyes. We hugged, you offered wonderful words of encouragement through your tears, and I walked away quickly trying to disguise the tears in my eyes. I left that moment thinking only of how much I still need your love and your lessons. I’m grown, I think I have it all figured out, and I’m just so mistaken.
I was humbled by the reality of how much I still need you.
Then… off to this beautiful Uganda.
Fast forward to today.
Today I sat in the home of a mother and daughter much like us. Well, like you and me except their circumstances are different. Hajarah and her mother Sumaya live in a 5×7′ shack in one of Uganda’s most dangerous areas, the Katwe Slum. Hajarah is gentle, articulate, curious, and funny. The truth is, they struggle. I don’t even know how to talk about the horrors their relationship has had to endure. Advertising the details here feels like more than I can say.
Circumstance aside (which seems totally hard to put aside) Hajarah is just a fourteen year old girl. She’s a girl who is carelessly toying with her independence in a dangerous dangerous place. She’s a girl who likes short skirts despite her mother’s insistence on modesty. She’s a girl who is vulnerable to peer pressure, wants to skip school, and thinks her mother is 100% not right about anything ever.
I thought back to that time in our relationship, Mom, when I slammed doors, was stubborn and lippy, and thought with all my might that I didn’t need you or the gracious lessons you had taught me.
That’s what I shared with Hajarah. I just wanted her to know that I understand. I understand how it feels to know that your friends are more important and more correct than your mother. That I understood that defying your mother feels like it has no consequences, or what it is to take the deep love from your mother for granted. It’s just that… in her circumstance, the margin for error in life is much smaller and the consequences are much more harsh.
Hajarah is part of the Compassion program with 251 other children in the Katwe Slum. There she can get guidance from project leaders outside of the chaos of the slum. There’s healthcare, spiritual guidance, and tender advice that can cut through a really poisonous pressure and dangers that exists within the slum. In that way, Compassion supports Sumaya in raising Hajarah. Being in their house and sharing Sumaya’s tears and concerns, it’s so clear that support is absolutely critical at this point in Hajarah’s life.
I thought back to you, Mom… how much I continue to find comfort in your love. Thank you! I want that same peace for Hajarah and other girls like her sooner rather than later.
You can make a difference in the life of a young girl by sponsoring a child. I’ve seen it work just today.
More from Uganda from Chatting at the Sky, The Nester, Jeff Goins, and Shaun Groves.
Compassion provided me a link to share with you. I am in no way compensated for your sponsorship or donation. I love you and I’m glad you’re here with me on this journey.
beautifully written. if there’s one thing i know for sure, it is that even now at 22, I still need my mom, perhaps more than ever. and i can’t image that changing, ever!
Long Distance Baking
Yep…you succeeded in making me cry! I too, still tear up when leaving my mom at the airport (but try to hide it, of course). Love all these Uganda posts. Thank you for your love and willingness to share this part of your life with us.
I have to say, that although I really like the help they’re given, it feels a bit like pressuring them into doing what your faith believes to be true. Maybe Harajah shouldn’t be modest, because that kind of seems like you’re asking her to cover up, as if it were the RIGHT way to act.
I’m really enjoying this posts, Joy. But I’d like to highlight how important it is that people that help, don’t push their faith and thoughts onto others as a way of payment for their kindness.
This post just rocked me. This right here: “It’s just that… in her circumstance, the margin for error in life is much smaller and the consequences are much more harsh.” That’s it exactly. Ugandan girls and their moms and western girls and their moms share relational similarities, yet the consequences for poor decisions can look vastly different.
Thank you for this, Joy. For your words, your ‘yes’, your life. You are an unbelievable gift.
Rocky Mountain Woman
As a mom, this touched my soul. As a daughter it made me miss my sweet mother so much…
Feeling the feels.
I was awful to my mom when I was younger and while she didn’t let me walk all over her, she took it with grace. Moms are incredible human beings all over the world and I can honestly say I never really thought about the mom/teenager situation in a place like Uganda so thank you for this post.
Just signed up to sponsor a child in Rwanda. We’ve known of Compassion for a while, and your trip reminded us of their significance. We traveled to Democratic Republic of Congo in 2010 and know some things of the history of the region. Thanks for having the courage to go and share your experiences with us.
you are wonderful!