It is me who must thank you, for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this exciting project in Kalerwe.
My very special thanks go to Mirica Kisitu for everything she has done to make this project happen…her love, her passion, her faith, her commitment to the community of kalerwe and its children and especially those with special needs and disabilities. She has not benefitted in anyway from this programme, except to have me as her guest whilst I have been staying in Kampala, which has probably been a mixed blessing for her. You are incredibly lucky to have her devoting her time and energy to you and this community…there are not enough people like her in the world.
Also to Iryn who has worked with us all week and arranged the programme. And a big thank you too to Peter for all his help during the week , his involvement in the workshops and for decorating this room for this celebration.
Thanks also to Milly who has worked long and hard to help this project to happen, and thanks to Nanteza Harriet for cooking us lunch every day.
And of course thank you to the trainers, especially Evelyn who I first met in January and very quickly realised what an amazing woman she is. I am so glad that she agreed to come and join us this week and share her knowledge and enthusiasm with you. It is amazing what people have been able to learn in such a short time.
You know, children with special needs have the same needs as all of us..
we need to be loved,
we need to be valued for who we are,
we need to be accepted,
we need to belong,
we need to be able to make a living,
we need safety and security,
we need to be able to bring our children up to be happy and healthy and to be able to support themselves later in their lives.
For this we all need education and health and resources.
It is an accident of birth that I was born in England, and you were born here. I did not choose to be born in one of the richest countries in the world You did not choose to be born here, but that is what has happened .
On the outside we may look very different, our skin, our hair, our language, our culture, but beneath our skins we are exactly the same.
We all have hopes and dreams and wishes.
We are all deserving of respect and should be treated with dignity.
We are all equal.
No one is better than anyone else
We all have the potential to do good or bad..depending on how we choose to live our lives.
No one should be more valued or respected because of what he or she has, what clothes they wear, what kind of car they drive, what kind of home they have, but by the person that they are, by their character , what is in their heart and by their actions.
I don’t care how much money you have, or don’t have, how big or small your home is, how many clothes or shoes you have ,
what I care about is whether you live life to the full,
whether you make the most of the talents and and opportunities you have,
whether you are able to go the extra mile for someone who needs it,
whether when you are pushed down you get up and try again, and again and not give up,
whether you treat others with kindness and love in your heart.
I have met and stayed with people during my stay here who have put me to shame by their strength and resilience under such difficult circumstances, whose ability to enjoy life despite its challenges and generosity of heart and spirit is second to none.
We have many things in the UK that you do not have here in Kalerwe, and it is tempting to think that money is the solution to all problems . I want to tell you that relationships matter as much if not more. It is relationships that sustain us in good times and bad times, that give us joy and peace and make us feel that we matter, that we belong and that we are loved.
in the UK relationships often break down , due to conflict, competitiveness, jealousy, even the use of social media which results in people spending more time on their phones than actually talking to people face to face and spending time together, leaving people isolated from family and friends and feeling lonely and depressed.
We all have the opportunity to make a positive difference, to make the world a better place during the short time that we are in it.
something as simple as a kind word or a smile,
raising a happy child,
looking after a family, or
using the skills and talents we have for the good of the community,
We must take the opportunities that are offered to us and make the most of them. We must take control of our own lives and be leaders in our own lives and not wait for someone else to sort our problems out, to tell us what to do.
This is what the people have been doing during this week of training. Despite living in extraordinarily difficult and challenging circumstances, they have come together to learn skills that will help them to make a living for themselves and their families. They have shown hope and determination and enthusiasm, some even arriving early to practice the skills they are learning.
I would like to remind you of the story that Jesus told about the sower and the seed.
Some seed fell on hard ground and shrivelled up and died. Some seed fell on rocky ground and grew very quickly but was weak and bore no fruit. But some seed fell on rich ground and grew strong and bore much fruit. I believe that what we have done this week in kalerwe has been sowing of seeds in rich ground and that it will bear much fruit.
Now it is up to you. I have helped to start this project, it is up to you to continue it. I have done my part, now it is up to you. This project needs to be self sustaining, which means you will need to work out how you will fund the rent for the building, the cost of future training and of materials that you will need, for maintenance and security. It will take time and patience and a lot of effort but I believe you have all these things and with God on your side, anything is possible.
It is said that if you want to go quickly on your journey, you should go alone. If you want to go far you should go together. You need to support each other and then this project will thrive and grow and be strong and be something that you can be proud of because it will be your efforts that have made it a success.
I hope that we have also planted some seeds of friendship that will continue to grow, not just because of the money that I have given, but because of the people that we are and the connection we have made with each other.
It has been an honour for me to be a part of this exciting new venture, and I wish it every success in the future. I hope to come back one day to see how it is getting on and to see how you are all doing. Till then I thank you and bless you. Mukama abakuume