After 4 trips to Uganda, I can say with absolute certainty, my life is not the same as it was 5 years ago! Mutually transformative relationship is a term you will hear if you have spent any time involved with Heal and Thrive. These relationships have impacted me in ways I have a hard time putting into words. Going to Uganda and telling marginalized women “you are loved and worth loving” is easy. These women are truly my heroes- they are so brave to join literacy classes and work on being empowered to care for themselves and their families. Watching the Ugandan staff interact with our mamas seems almost a sacred thing to behold. It is evident just how much they truly love these mamas and believe in them!

Maybe I was naive 5 years ago (ok, I know I was!) thinking these mamas just needed to believe in themselves but here is the thing about mutuality- it’s not one sided! They love me back! As much as I love them and think about them, it is reciprocal. I feel so loved, welcomed, celebrated, accepted, and cared for by these women. It floors me every. single. time. I have seen their lives change over the years and I hope they have seen a change in me as well.

You see, 5 years ago, as easy as it was for me to tell them they are loved and worth loving, I was at a place in my life where it was difficult for me to believe I was loved and worth loving. If there was any doubt in my mind as to the mutuality, it was all erased on literacy center day. There was a drama depicting a mama who was being abused by villagers, this mama was crying and God saw her tears and, in turn, placed it on my heart (and my dear friend, Tiffany, who is part of the same literacy center) to go to Uganda. As they were praying for us when it was time to say “see you later’, I can not remember if it was Asano Margaret or Irene who was praying, but she prayed “may your prayers and ours be intertwined and carried to heaven”. We are sisters. And…I now know I am loved and worth loving. In fact, I have the Ateso phrase tattooed on my arm so I do not forget…Imanai ijo. Busakanit amina ijo.

Chasady Mirkes