“Mizungu,” yelled 50 children as they raced towards the land rover. I got out of the vehicle and 50 more appeared from nowhere and suddenly I was in the middle of a sea of tiny black faces looking up at me. “Mizungu, Mizungu,” they chanted which is basically the name given to all white people here in Uganda.
Over the last couple of days I have been travelling around Uganda with CAWST and Connect Africa to see water filtration projects around the country. Today the team took me along with them to do a routine check up on the bio sand water filters they had set up in a school in a suburb of Kampala. The children were so exited to see us, as were the staff, who excitedly reported to us that the children were healthier and properly hydrated which had resulted in better exam scores and increased enrolment.
What surprised me though was the lock. The water filters, the source of so much good and a resource that was invaluable to this community had been locked up. I asked one of the women on the team about it. Maria responded to me by saying “This happens all the time here. One other school received all of these books from an organization and when they came back to see if they needed more books they found none of the books had been used, they’d been locked up so no one could wreck them.”
How often do we do this in life? How often do we receive something good or have something good to share and we lock it up unwilling to trust ourselves or others to share in the beauty. So many of us have talents that we lock up unwilling to share them with others out of fear. Or we receive a gift and think, I’ll save that for a special moment finding later when we move or clean up that we’ve never used it. What would happen if when we received a good gift we celebrated by sharing it with others, leaving the locks off and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable to the possibilities of living in community.
I have been so blessed by people who have not locked their homes but have shared them with me, or who have shared a special treat or given some of their time to sit and have a coffee with me. Tonight for example I am staying with Tex and Val, a beautiful couple who have opened their home to me, me a complete stranger, because they view it as one of their most important roles; to provide a haven of peace and a sense of home in the middle of Uganda. All of these people could have made other choices. They could have decided that it was more comfortable to keep these good things locked up where there was no fear that I could wreck them or reject them or hurt them, but they didn’t, and I am eternally grateful.