Heart for Uganda

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Inauguration Memories

Posted on January 21, 2013 at 11:35 AM

When President Obama was inaugurated for his first term in 2009, I was there with three of my Operation Breakthrough sisters (Aileen,Susie and Kendra...as ordered in photo). After 4 years, I still hold numerous moments from that trip very fondly, as I believe I always will.  The atmosphere of Washington DC at that time was electric, optimistic, almost fraternal (afterall, we were all there for the same common celebration).


The day President Obama took his Oath of Office was cold, bitterly cold.  I remember shaking and shivering to my very core. But during the moments when the Oath was taken, none of us felt the cold.  We were inspired.  We were riveted.  With several hundred thousand people present, I still remember feeling the silence, the captivation, the respect, as we embraced this true moment of history.

Best wishes to President Obama as he embarks on his next Presidential reign. And many loving thoughts to my OB sisters, who always hold a special spot in my heart. 


Opponents Become Brothers

Posted on November 7, 2012 at 1:20 PM

As America moves forward with President Barack Obama at the helm for the next 4 years, I enjoyed reading this article on BBC News...





A Kenyan mother has named her new-born twins after US President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

Millicent Owuor, 20, gave birth to the twins in south-west Kenya on the day Mr Obama was re-elected.

A short distance from the hospital, at the Obama family's ancestral village, people were celebrating his victory.

"I named the first twin Barack and the second one Mitt," Ms Owuor is quoted by Reuters news agency as saying.

Ms Owuor posed for photographers on Wednesday at the Siaya District Hospital with her twin boys.

She said she had named her twins after the winning and losing US presidential candidates in order to remember the day of the vote, Kenya's Standard newspaper reports.

Article published on BBC News-Africa published 7th November.

Ugandan Voters in US

Posted on October 30, 2012 at 5:25 AM

One week from today, Americans will be casting their votes for the next President of the United States. Media reports of the close race between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have begun to make headlines in Ugandan newspapers.


America has an association suitably called the Uganda North American Association (UNAA). They estimate that 200,000 Ugandans are currently living in the United States. Most of them have visas for education or employment. But approximately 30,000 Ugandan natives have received their American citizenship (highly concentrated in Boston, California, New York, and New Jersey) and have registered to vote in the upcoming election. This current number of Ugandan registered voters has doubled since the 2008 election.


Overall, in my observations and discussions with various Ugandan friends/associates, Obama continues to be a country favorite, as his birth father was a native Kenyan. His East African ancestral ties cause Ugandans to feel an alliance towards Obama regardless of his political views. However, my generalization does not carry-forward to those native Ugandans who are now American citizens.


For me, I shamefully admit that I did not make proper arrangements to cast my vote via absentee ballot. So I will have to sit this election out and keep myself updated via Internet.


To all of you registered voters back home in America though... Rock the Vote!!



Rock of Ages

Posted on October 17, 2012 at 2:55 PM

Tonight I had a movie night that I would have given anything to share with my best friends from childhood. The movie was ‘Rock of Ages,’ which paid homage to the musical period of rock and heavy metal from the 80s. Loud music, big hair, fringe and leather… I don’t think there was a single song that I did not sing out-loud. Anyone outside my window was probably wondering about my solo party inside.


It was amazing the memories unlocked by the music of Poison, Bon Jovi, Def Leopard, Guns N’ Roses, Joan Jett, Journey, Foreigner, Twisted Sister. School dances. Slumber parties at friends’ houses. Long car rides. Even longer bus rides with my headphones. Summers visiting my dad. My first man-crush in 6th grade was on Bret Michaels, lead singer of Poison. My mom scored eternal cool points by taking me and some of my girlfriends to one of Poison’s concerts when we were in middle school. I still remember that night…our giddiness, singing at the top of our lungs, and completely naïve to the realities of backstage and road life for the band. It was a PG-rated night for us small town young girls!


Then during my high school years, the music industry’s focus turned to boy bands (New Kids on the Block) and grunge (Nirvana). I went to a rural high school, so the country music of George Strait and Garth Brooks overtook the tunes of Bon Jovi and Poison. But I still hold a special place for the era of rock and heavy metal music of the 80s despite my young age. It really was an epic time. And I love that those rockers may be aging, but they are still rocking out and making great music!!

Missing Fall

Posted on October 15, 2012 at 5:55 AM

I LOVE (and miss) this time of year in America.  Beauty of leaves changing colors.  Watching football on Sundays.  Cooling temperatures and comforts of wearing a light sweater after a long, hot summer. Hot apple cider.  Cheering youth sports on weekends.  Fall candies, like Candy Corns and Caramels.  Pumpkin carving.  Fall family celebrations and festivals, like family birthdays and Thanksgiving.   Cooking Chili or soups.  Television series premieres. 

PS...Thanks Trudy for the great Fall photo.  Makes me smile.


Antwain's Maw-Maw

Posted on June 26, 2012 at 4:30 AM

There are certain people in our lives that may only be present for a short time, but their imprints remain forever.  Antwain’s Great-grandmother (or Maw-Maw), Norma, is one of those people for me.  Norma and I had really the most unlikely friendship… the matriarch of a large family in inner-city KCMO and a young, naïve recent-college graduate from rural central Kansas.  Our common bond was our incredible, endless love for Antwain. I talked to Norma daily (sometimes multiple times a day) sharing antedotes about Antwain.  We would laugh at his antics and his fierce independence. 

Norma was one of my greatest champions during Antwain’s adoption.  Her endorsement gave me the confidence to pursue becoming Antwain’s mother.  Despite her fragile health, Norma supported my efforts in every conceivable way, and she directly ensured that Antwain and I would both inherit another family during our joining as a family.  

Just a few precious months after our adoption was finalized, Norma passed away. Her health was growing poor, but her death was still a shock and significant loss.  One of Norma’s greatest desires was for Antwain to always remain connected to his 2 older brothers and his family.  I made that promise to Norma, and throughout the years, I have often felt her smiling from Heaven on the three boys playing together. 

Yesterday would have been Norma’sbirthday.  She and Henry share a very special day together, which serves as another special fiber that weaves my various families together.  For the rest of my life, I will always hold my time with Norma close to my heart, and I will forever be grateful for her entrustment of our beloved Antwain. 


Happy Father's Day

Posted on June 17, 2012 at 7:10 AM

To all the fathers...my Dad, Grandad, Grandpa, Brother, Uncles, special friends and so many more.  Happy Father's Day to you all!  Much love all the way from Uganda!!

Irish Love from Afar

Posted on March 17, 2012 at 5:05 AM


The true Irishmen of our family (my sister, niece and nephew) provided Antwain with some essential decorations. And even though Uganda does not celebrate our festive St. Patrick's Day, you can be sure that we will still wear something green.


Happy St. Patrick's Day!

My Besties

Posted on February 20, 2012 at 1:10 PM


Another highlight of being home was spending time with my two best friends in life. Since junior high, we have been an inseparable threesome. The blond, the brunette, and the redhead...just one of the many ways that we compliment one another.


Whenever I think of these women, I smile and internally giggle like a school girl. There is not one significant memory in the past 20 years that does not include them. Births, deaths, weddings, parties, weekend visits, get-away trips, surgery, adoption, moving. Having such history with someone else for more than half of my life fills me such incredible comfort, appreciation, respect, joy, and lots of love. There are not two other people in my life that can make me laugh or cry with equal intensity, but we definitely do much more laughing!! And there is literally nothing that I would not do for my best friends, and vice versa.


As emotionally difficult as it was for them to watch me move to Uganda to follow my dreams, they did it like champions and cheerleaders. We were a crying mess at the airport as they said goodbye to Antwain and me, and then they were the first beautiful faces that we saw when we returned home for a visit. They came waving Welcome Home signs, bearing little bags of Peanut Butter M&Ms for me, and then immediately driving to Chipotle for Antwain. Those are my girls, and that is how much they love us!!


I am one lucky lady to have two incredible sisters in life, in Christ, watching my back, and loving me unconditionally.

My Buddies

Posted on February 18, 2012 at 6:15 AM


If I had to choose the greatest thing that I miss from America, my answer would undoubtedly be my niece and nephew. I could use every possible positive adjective to describe Grace and Gannon. They are just super incredible kiddos who have a presence that makes me smile and creates a happy beat within my heart. I find myself always counting down the time until I spend time with them again.


Because we chose to visit home in January, Grace and Gannon were busy in school and other activities. Our times together were few, but each was very precious. Since we have lived in Uganda, both Gracie Beth and Ganno (my affectionate nicknames) have physically grown, emotionally matured, and their individual interests are really emerging. There were several moments when I had to shake my head at the obvious changes that just a year and a half have brought about.


Since they were young, we had ‘Aunty Mel dates.’ These were special times when I could take the kids and do fun things on our own (usually with a certain amount of spoiling involved). I cherish each ‘Aunty Mel date,’ and this visit we had a few: overnight slumber party at Poppa’s (my Dad) apartment, playing at the park and hide-and-seek (one of Grace’s favorite games), and dinner with one of my closest friends. During those times, I enjoyed hearing stories about school, their favorite friends, their activities (like wrestling, Girl Scouts, football, baseball, sometimes swimming), their pets, their vacations. They also had many questions for me and Antwain about Uganda...the children at SMK, Antwain’s school, the weather, the food, our house. I have literally talked about Grace and Gannon with such frequency at SMK that the children literally feel like they know them, too.


Whenever I look back upon pictures of my time with Gracie Beth and Ganno, I smile (sometimes with tear glistening in my eyes). The time passed to quickly for me, and I know that they will mature even more by the next time I see them. I am so incredibly proud of each one of them, and I hope they never doubt my love for them (even though I am far away).



Gannon was Star-Student of the Week at his school.  (Go, Ganno!)  It was

his turn to invite Aunt Mel for a lunch date at his school.  I gladly accepted!!

(And I really enjoyed the school lunch and recess with Ganno and his 2nd grade friends.)




Me and my Gracie Beth during one of our special dates...there are moments that even

I smile about how much Gracie resembles me.  There are amazing things coming

from this little girl in the future...you can count on that!!  (And she is the

undisputed champion of Hide-And-Seek!!)