I’ve been struggling with how I should talk to Pipeline’s supporters and even my friends and colleagues about “How Pipeline Worldwide is doing.” We’re all experiencing a “new normal” that has impacted each of us a little differently, and I want to be sensitive to everyone’s fears and struggles.
I’ve read about one high school friend on Facebook who has shared his daily heartache of being away from his dad as he battled the coronavirus alone in the hospital; listened to the Executive Director of one of our partner organizations on the radio as she discussed the moment she was driving in her car to get tested and thought she might actually die from this disease; and while Facetiming with my girlfriend, I watched the joy and overwhelming relief on her face and in her voice as she announced that she was a grandma for the first time to a healthy baby boy.
These stories, although scary and not even my own, have made me feel empathetic and compassionate. This isn’t a bad thing although sometimes it’s easier not to know about others’ suffering. If you don’t know then you don’t have to worry, feel sadness, or compelled to help. However, I think it’s an opportunity to be a reader, learner and listener because even just choosing to know makes that person or situation matter. My friends in Uganda matter, and I want their stories to be heard.
My favorite part of the day is waking up each morning and checking all the messages I receive overnight from my friends 10 hours ahead of me. Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe always sends me profound messages. She’s currently quarantined in Oklahoma finishing her Ph.D. Prior to the pandemic, she was living in the dorm because she wanted to be close to all the students. She said she learns a lot from them and wants to teach them too. Picturing that always makes me smile. The last time I asked her how she was doing she told me it was so difficult being in the U.S. and understanding the magnitude of the problem when the people in Uganda don’t have the option to wash their hands a hundred times a day because they don’t even have enough water to drink. Her school in Atiak is a boarding school for vulnerable children and orphans. They are dependent upon the school to provide housing, meals, education, and a family. When their diner is closed and when they can’t transport goods from their farm, they can’t sustain the costs to pay their teachers and feed their kids. A stimulus check does not come in the mail.
This week was especially hard for my friend, Brian, Founder of Bless a Child Foundation. This organization provides housing, meals, transportation, and supportive services for kids with cancer. They lost Bahati, a 7-year old boy from Congo. He passed away at the hospital with no family. He was certainly memorable with his contagious smile, snazzy sunglasses, and eagerness to hold your hand. They’ve also lost Mungu, Annet, Latif, Mable, Rehema, and Valentino is now receiving palliative care. This has been very hard on the staff.