There are some days or weeks that are harder than others here in Uganda.
Some days where your heart wonders if it can take any more.
Weeks where it feels like your heart may come out of your chest, if you hear one more heartbreaking story.
The past two weeks has been this for me.
Actually the past two months have been like that for me. (This is one of the reasons I've been pretty quiet with blogs and updates lately - trying to process.......)
I never get use to the stories.
The stories of loss, grief, suffering, war........ poverty.
........And I pray I never do.
Now before I go on - please let me state - this is not the story for every Ugandan.. or every African. I do not want to fuel the western idea of Africa - that every African is poor, or uneducated, or has suffered war etc - because that is not the case - and I'll write a blog on that another day.
But while its not the story for every single person in Uganda - for those people we work with - that is the common threat.
And I don't ever want us to become desensitised to what is happening around us.
Over the past month, we have been visiting and hearing the stories of many of the families we work with.
This came about when last year we sat and heard the stories of some of the families we are working with. It made me want to share these amazing peoples stories. Stories of pain but also of hope.
Then again in December when we had the YWAM team visiting - we went around visiting and sitting in the homes of the precious people who live in the slums, and getting to hear some of their stories in more depth, really spurred on the idea of wanting to do a book or share their stories.
Hearing their stories of how they came to the slums, what their childhoods were like, what its like to raise children in the slums, was incredibly eye opening.
It was also incredibly inspiring - these peoples stories, while they are stories of loss and suffering, are also stories of great joy amidst the pain. Of how they overcome every single day, even against all odds.
We started to discuss with some of the families how they would feel about sharing their stories - after all - they are not our stories - they are theirs.
People started to come forward in response and wanted to share their stories with the hope of helping others.
So throughout January and February, we have been sitting with our amazing volunteers (Shell-Sea and Abby) interviewing and hearing the stories of some amazing people.
Even though I know each person that we have interviewed so far - and while for some I knew parts of their stories - many I did not - or parts of their stories I had never heard before.
They are stories that hit you right at your core....... they shake you....... they challenge you....... they have the ability to immobilise you if you let them.
But for me - it is only mobilising me even more to share their stories ..... to share the stories of the struggles and battles these people have fought - but also the great triumphs, the joys and the ways in which they overcome and still have hope.
Seriously these people are amazing. ...... I'm so thankful for their willingness to share their stories..... to open up.
There's so much power in our stories . - and we all have a story.
Whether you grew up running from rebels in the African jungle, whether you were born and raised in a wealthy African or American family or whether you grew up surfing the waves on Australian beaches - we all have a story and we can all learn from each other.
While the past month has really exhausted me in so many ways, it has also made me inspired to keep going - when I see what these people have been through..... what they have actually lived through.... hearing their stories..... crying with them..... journeying with them as they go back into their past.... is the very least that I can do.
And knowing that they are now being impacted by the work we are doing.... makes me more motivated to
help them write a new story for their future, and for their children's future.
We are now in process of working on a beautiful photo book, that will share the amazing stories of these precious people.
THEY OVERCOME will be released later this year.