PARENTS:the guardians and guides

Parenting is arguably considered one of the most important and most demanding job in the world. For sure it is a lifetime job. I used to call my children mine until I read Kahlil Gibran’s ‘ On Children’ in his  classic book entitled the Prophet. This Lebanese-American artist, poet and philosopher( 1883-1931) explicitly spelt it out to me that as  a parent I was just a guardian and a guide to the children. I could not own them.

A Guardian as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary: a person who protects or defends something.

A guide: a person who shows the way to others. Conducts, directs and leads the way.

This clear definition helped me do my parenthood better. As I jump on tour buses in different cities of the world; I have come to appreciate that having an enthusiastic, knowledgeable, quick-witted tourist guide who laces facts with humour, sometimes mean enough to make you move to another site while you still want to linger but all in the interest of time, can make your day or dampen it.

As parent, I can perform my job better if I know my job description-tasks,responsibilities and is willing to do them lovingly and yet still set firm limits.

As with any other job, the job description has a list of main tasks and responsibilities

But usually right at the bottom, there is an ‘any other task that my supervisor may deem necessary for the development of the company/institution’.

As children grow their needs change too and the last item expands to include things like baby sitting when the parents are away, caretaking homes when the owners are away, translating the list of domestic chores to the new maid, storing extras until the owners find room for them in their new house, and a myriad more. All these are covered under that final item on the list. By this time, I am more of an advisor than a manager and yet it is still within my job description as a parent- for parenting like learning, are lifetime jobs. The nurturing of the child’s mind and heart never stops as long as you are alive. Parents need to be there for their children, to reassure and make them feel that they belong, are valued and are cared for. Children who feel secure and feel loved are happy and happy children thrive, study well and excel.

As we prepare the children for the demands of adulthood we teach them to grow from dependence to independence, responsibility, discipline and empower them to be themselves.This demands us to be the best role models – children always do what they see you do other than what you tell them to be. My greatest responsibility to them is to be the best role model I could be:having clear values and principles and a positive mental attitude about life. I should inspire them to want to be better people. Life is a journey and children need their parents to help them walk through.

And their greatest responsibility is to do what is necessary to maximize the opportunities we have given them and giving their best effort at whatever they are tasked to do or chose to do themselves. We encourage them to learn from their failures, mistakes and disappointments.

Later I came to understand that the more I encouraged them to take risks, the more their lives improved. This happens after they have taken the first and most difficult risk of being honest with themselves. Gradually release the tight leash; letting it grow longer as they take on more responsibilities and take more risks. They will find the security and stability, independence to be themselves.

Like Mother eagle, after giving them the skills of flying and how to fend for themselves, I have had to stir up the nest to let them soar and become true eagles in the real world. As human beings , they know that home remains a safe place to return to.

Once they become independent and self-reliant, we the managers become advisors: offering the advice in kindness ; knowing very well that the advice given can be taken or not. I am still honing my skills in parenting; passing on my wealth of experiences and wisdom at the same time improving myself: the job description requires me to remain relevant. Otherwise I shall become a relic.

Have I done a good job so far ? I cannot answer that but I know I have done the best wholeheartedly under the circumstances. Only time will tell how those I raised turn out into the real world and how they will contribute to its development.

Thank you for taking time to visit my Blog and reading this post. May it help you to become a better parent or grandparent. Feel free to leave a comment and to share it with your network of friends.

 

 

 

DOING LITTLE THINGS WITH GREAT LOVE

Last week I had the honour and privilege to attend the funeral of a loved one at the foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains-  Mountains of the Moon, in western Uganda. She was born a simple, ordinary woman but died at 95 years of age as a rich and powerful woman.

As celebrant after celebrant paid tribute to her, I was forced to take an inventory of my personal life. Without any hesitation, I realized that there were many things I needed to improve on and I had to do better at sharing the gifts and talents that God gave me. I needed to go from just being good to being better and doing good every day.

They say that: “At a funeral, the eyes of the dead one are closed while those of the living are opened.”

My eyes were opened to the inner beauty of that extraordinary woman and to my inadequacies.

Having been widowed in her early thirties and never having remarried, probably the struggles she went through to bring up her two sons- who unfortunately died later and her two daughters, taught her a lot about what is right or wrong and to trust God in everything and for everything.

No doubt, she must have received adequate love and care herself from her parents to know who she was and what she wanted in life- to care, give and guide others. She loved and cared for herself first and then went out to love and care for others. She loved unconditionally, nurtured, instructed, disciplined and empowered all those who went through her hands and mothered anyone in her village who needed mothering. With her motherly advice, she kept the young on the straight and narrow. She found great joy in helping others; always sharing what she had. Sometimes, she gave while hurting as long as she was sure that her efforts would lift up someone.

She never lost herself as she met the needs of others for she had set her own boundaries and guarded them well. She never lost the capacity to say ‘no’ if she was not in a position to help. She never had difficulty in receiving from others.

As Mother Teresa said: “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.’’

She did just that: she listened, she smiled, she held people’s hands, she cried with the bereaved and   danced with those rejoicing. She prayed with the sick, shared fruits and vegetables from her garden and the milk from her cows. She was fruitful with her generosity and the more she gave away, the more she had. She nurtured the children, family and friends helping them to grow and develop. She created a community around her where we all felt we belonged, were valued and were cared for and stimulated us to develop and nurture relationships among ourselves. In her presence we all felt safe and at home even by her bedside in a hospital room. Everyone who went through her hands left gracefully, full of thanks and ready to emulate her. Her humility, love and generosity will outlive her.

In the last thirty years of her life; her great devotion to God had turned her into the Bible we read every day. She shared her love, her heart and her faith with her whole heart.

It is said that: “The dying pray at the last not ‘please’ but ‘thank you’ as a guest thanks his host at the door.’’ This great woman also expressed radical thankfulness and celebration of her long, fulfilled life. And we the living, gave her a befitting funeral as we celebrated her as one of our own; so ordinary and yet so extraordinary. For this is what she was.

Abwooli Evasta Kyamulesire, Rest in Eternal Peace.

One last quote: “To be rich is not what you have in your bank account but what you have in your heart.’’

Let us all go out and do the little we can do with what we have and do it with great love.

Thank you for taking time to visit my blog and read this post. Kindly leave a comment, feel free to share the post and visit my Blog once a week for new articles.

 

 

 

We All Want The Same Things In Life

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Some years back, I took this photograph of young, innocent smiling girls from the West bank. They were warm and bubbly and were able to talk to me for some minutes before I took the photograph.

I asked them about what each wanted to be in future. Instantly, the first one told me that she wanted to have a decent education to prepare her to go into a decent college to become a teacher.

The second one told me she wanted to have a decent education then join a decent college from there she wanted to have a decent job with decent pay and a decent place to stay. Then with a smile she had added: “Probably later I could find my way to United States of America.’’

“Why USA?’’ I asked.

“ I think USA  has more opportunities for people to live better lives.”

Her thinking was not any different from the youth in my country. These smiling girls wanted basic things in life first. The world having shrunk to a global village, they must be watching American films on the television and want what they see for themselves. Looking across the valley, I could see many satellite dishes hanging from the roof tops.

Seeing these girls once again, reminded me that worldwide, we all want the same things in life. Parents irrespective of colour , race, religion, and class; they all want the best for their children. They want them to live better lives than themselves and they would sacrifice everything to let it happen.

I was stirred up to read more about migration. We all read and hear often about the young Africans who risk their lives across the Sahara desert and take the perilous journey across the Mediterranean Sea into Europe in search of better lives. They choose to leave to save themselves: they do not want to be trapped in poverty or situations where there are no jobs and no future for them. They are so determined that they would rather die trying. They come from countries that are torn apart by civil wars or thrown into chaos and uncertainty by leaders who claim to know what is best for them. Others come from places where famine and drought have caused poor agricultural productivity.

Like businesses, these young people hate uncertainty so they would rather go out to look for opportunities to have a better future. Many die along the way but those who succeed in getting into Europe, take on any unskilled jobs for little pay. Then they start sending money back to the families they left behind. Remittances from these migrant workers contribute greatly to the growth and development of their countries. Remittances from both the voluntary and forced migrants from our country have for some years beaten coffee to the first place as the main source of external  finance.

According to the National Population Census of 2014, 78% of  Uganda’s population are under 30 years of age- a young dependent population. Records also show that universities produce 400,000 graduates each year but only 90,000 get employed. 70%  of youths are unemployed. It is not surprising that young women and men are forced to look for jobs elsewhere and many have fallen in the hands of what I may call the ‘slave traders’ of our time.

In the 70’s many Ugandans voluntarily  worked in Kenya, in the 80’s and 90’s many moved willingly to work in South Africa, Europe, USA and Canada. The current trend is to work in the Middle East but they are all driven by the search of better opportunities or Greener pastures.

Many of us have read and heard about the Boat people of Australia- thousands of migrants that every year risk to take the perilous journey from Indonesia across the Indian Ocean  to Australia. Majority of them are fleeing troubles in countries like Afghanistan, Iran and Sri- Lanka. They sell everything they have to pay for this passage to Australia to look for opportunities of  a new life and a better future.These asylum seekers have to be screened at Detention centres  to either be taken in or be sent back. Australia has developed tough policies to stop the influx of these asylum seekers.

Migration is as old as man himself: In the Bible, sixty -six members of Jacob’s family were forced to migrate to Egypt due to the great famine in their land of Canaan. Four hundred and thirty years later, their male descendants numbered over six hundred thousand.

In South Africa, between 1835 and 1841. The Dutch – speaking colonialists moved from the Cape into the interior to live independently of the British colonialist. They moved in search of freedom and independence. Their great journey inland is known as the ‘ Great Trek’.

The great potato famine in Ireland of 1846-1851 caused the first mass migration of the Irish to USA. They were even called Irish Famine Immigrants. In USA , they worked hard and were determined to improve their lives and those of their children. They seized all the opportunities available and it is little wonder that John . F. Kennedy the 35th President of USA(1961-1963) was a descendant of these migrants.

By sheer coincidence, the 44thPresident of USA (2009-2017), Barack Obama also happened to be a son of a Kenyan economist who was sent by his government to further his education in USA.

As I write this , the youth in Britain have already taken it upon themselves to  voice their concerns like the high cost of living in Britain,the high university fees, the high cost of homes, Britain’s exit of the European Union and turned up in big numbers to vote in the general election of 8th June 2017. In so doing ; they have caused an unexpected upset in the results and have left Britain with a hung Parliament. From this day on, their concerns will be taken seriously and hopefully they will be helped to get where they want to go.

Migration; forced or voluntary, will continue whether border walls are built or not or whether protectionism is practiced or not but our governments should come up with policies and strategies to keep the youth home.  The youth should be given an all-round quality education: knowledge, attitude and practice then skills that can help them to develop themselves and the economies. Governments should have acceptable policies to create peace and security and then create jobs. Our countries should woo investors from the rich countries to set up industries where the skilled youths can take up jobs and earn enough income to pull themselves and their families out of poverty. The locals should also be facilitated in starting up some industries and in the marketing of their products and services.

The youth should be consistently engaged and their concerns listened to so that  locally appropriate policies are developed to get them where they want to be. Governments have to learn to think out of the box and like the Labor Party of Britain exploit the Internet culture to engage them . They need to feel to be part of what is going on in their countries. A conducive political and economic environment will help them thrive and have hope about a better future.

Remember what they hate most in uncertainty and what matters most to them is  having a decent education, a decent job with decent pay and decent housing. The smiling girls from the West Bank told me so years back and the youths of Britain voted because they had something to vote for.

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THE REAL FACE OF THE NEVER GIVE UP SPIRIT

Things happen fast worldwide and living in the Digital era, they are spread fast  online,on air, on mobile and on the television.We see things as they happen.

On the 24th of May 2017, the world news were dominated by the horrendous Suicide bombing in Manchester, United Kingdom, President Trump’s first visit abroad – taking him to Saudi Arabia, Israel and Belgium. Among the items overshadowed by the main news was the swearing-in of an immaculately dressed man in a wheel chair as the 44th President of Ecuador ( meaning Equator in Spanish). Ecuador is the 4th smallest country in South America and has a population of 16.14 million(2015). His swearing-in  reminded me instantly of another President in a wheelchair of another time: the 32 nd President of USA, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945). An outdoor man who at the age of 29 years suffered from polio and was left paralysed .With the support of his wife, Eleanor, and family, he was able to achieve partial recovery. He later went on to rejoin the political arena and went on to be elected for two terms as Governor of New York and the only politician to be elected four terms as the President of United States of America. He was often referred to as the Wheel chair President.

Thanks to the internet, after seeing the swearing-in of Lenin Moreno, the only current head of state in a wheel chair, I went to work to get to know this man and by the time I finished reading his story, I had added him on my list of my biggest idols.

He is sixty-four years old, married with three children. He was born in a middle class family; his father was a teacher. Lenin studied Psychology at University and joined Public Administration after graduation. This is the best part for me though tragic: In January 1998, he was ambushed by two young robbers in a grocery parking lot in Quito capital city. They stole his money and car and shot him in the back. He was paralysed in both legs. He spent  some time in a hospital bedridden and in excruciating pain .

When the doctors and other health workers could not offer him anything more, he refused to be defined by that injury. He was determined to take back his personal power and control his life-get what he wanted for himself and in his life.

As a psychologist he turned to Laughter Therapy. He used humour as a form of healing and was later to write about this experience for his Foundation known as ‘Eventa’ -promoting humour and joy as a way of life

He was able to change the dynamics of his life by changing his thinking.

Four years after the robbery, he went back to work. He joined politics and was appointed  the Vice President of Ecuador from 2007- 2013. During this period, he shifted his focus off himself and focused on helping the disabled to claim their rights. He reinvented himself as an advocate for the rights of the disabled in Ecuador.  In 2012, he was nominated for the  Nobel Peace Prize because of this work. He was at one time UN’s Goodwill Ambassador for the disabled. He has written numerous books on the therapy of humour.

 

He resigned as Vice president in 2013. Mentored by the outgoing President of the country, Rafael Correa,he declared himself as a presidential candidate for the October 2016 elections.

Having failed to get the required clear majority, he had to go for the rerun in February 2017. It was a bitterly contested Presidential election that left the country polarized. He is a Socialist, he came from behind to  narrowly defeat a Conservative banker.  He takes over power at a challenging time when Ecuador is in a recession due to the fallen Oil prices.

To many of us Lenin Moreno is the Portrait of courage, patience, determination and hard work. He proves to us all that common mantra: Disability is not Inability. He must have believed in himself, believed and seen his dream then prepared for it. He must be a ruthlessly focused man who is also ready to make a difference by serving others.

He proves Evangelist Joyce Meyer’s  saying  that miracles come in ‘Cans’ not ‘Cants’.

He chose to fight on other than quit and give up. He has a great spirit and heart.

He is indeed a Role model to many of us: he has changed the world faster than what laws and policies would take years to change. He is a great inspiration to all of us- the disabled and the able-bodied.

He must be very happy and humbled to be recognized for his leadership, his work and dedication.

I for one promise not to give myself more excuses for not getting on with my life; I do not do the world any good by thinking small. I have decided to delete the words ‘I can’t’ from my vocabulary and replace them in bold with ‘I can.’ For all the races I run, the battles I fight start in my mind.

We are all delighted and amazed by his tenacity and humility.I take off my hat to him and pray that he becomes a charismatic leader with immense prowess and a great vision for his country.

From now on, I shall be looking for his biography. I have also declared myself Lenin Moreno’s willing Follower.

One relevant quote from the late Nelson Mandela: “The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.’’

Thank you for visiting my Blog and may this post give you hope and optimism to live a life worth living.