DAY SIXTEEN

MAMA

Burundi Market -dried fish

“Karibu!” That swahili word of welcome still warms my heart. I love meeting new people. I love hearing their stories, what makes them wake up in the morning and what puts a smile on their faces just before they sleep. If I am able to inspire at least one person every so often to move forward with their dreams then I will feel I have moved my own.

“People love our mom,” I am told when I ask them how she survives with so many other dried fish vendors next to her. Mama wakes before her children and walks for an hour to her new place in the market. A month ago – the old market she worked in had burnt down -displacing hundreds of vendors. In the evening when she returns, often carrying fruits, vegetables and other provisions on her head, she is tired but her warm beautiful smile never leaves her face.  Mama doesn’t speak French nor English…but her heart speaks volumes.  Raising six kids on her own, as a single mom for the last 9 years, has made her children strong. They dote on her and hope that the new business projects we have started together will help her and the other moms in their dance group.

When we meet new people we never know who will be but a passing exchange of words or who will slip quietly or boisterously into your heart until it is time to say goodbye. As the motos (motorcycle taxis/ boda bodas in Kampala) arrive much too quickly and we rush to jump on with our knapsacks -I quickly hug my new friends from Burundi goodbye. I was sad at first that I missed saying goodbye this morning to the little ones but grateful that they were not there because the cold morning air, as the motos whipped through the streets, was not hitting my face hard enough to keep my sadness away.  I was already missing my Burundian friends by the time I was on the bus… a bus not yet filled with passengers and their hastily purchases of snacks and water.

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