There are quiet moments. This is one of them. I sit in silence in the office at Atin. The sounds of the world outside are muted to a low hum because the fan beside me is running at turbo speed, evidence of my own vain attempt to survive the intense heat of northern Uganda. The hot air that whips around me is somehow a reprieve from the sweltering heat.
I am tired. It has been a two year struggle to get Atin off the ground. Two years of choosing this life over any other. Two years of thinking maybe next month something magical will happen to take away the worries, the stress, the fears of failing these children.
Yesterday it happened. It wasn’t a miracle or a million dollar cheque but it was magical and precious, a shy little boy in a pair of converse sneakers.
Morris and I walked to Atin, slowly dragging ourselves there in the mid-afternoon heat too tired to even pretend to make small talk with each other. There had been some discipline problems with the boys and the house needed simple things like water tablets, cough syrup and toothpaste.
Wrapped up in our thoughts we literally almost knocked over Solomon and and his little sister Lydia.
Solomon came to Atin in 2012 and was resettled last summer with his family. His parents, both peasant farmers, could not afford school fees from their children and Solomon had come to town to the street with a get rich quick scheme on his mind determined to get school fees like so many others before him. What he found was glue to get high, garbage to keep warm and cold nights full of empty, hollow dreams.
The Solomon that we first met has disappeared. This Solomon is a beacon of light and hope. For the 2 terms that he studied in his P2 class he remained in the top 10%. He knows what it means to get a second chance and he is determined to succeed.
Seeing Solomon once wasn’t enough. Today we went to the village to check on him at school. My heart burst with joy. In his yellow shirt he truly looked like a ray of hope in the classroom. A quietly confident boy with a future ahead of him.
Today the exhaustion is gone. The stress is gone. The uncertainty is gone. All that remains is a smile and thoughts of Solomon. Mother Teresa was right, “I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”.