In mid-April, the advertising companies are already gearing up for Mother's Day. Buy your mother a card, a bouquet of flowers, an I-pad, or how about a new car. Show her how much you love her by taking her out to dinner and buying her stuff, lots of stuff. That's how we show our mother we love her isn't it? We buy her gifts.
Maybe it's because I grew up in a remote village in western Uganda with no electricity and running water that I see this as odd. In a place where many have barely enough food to eat, buying a gift for your mother once a year is not only unheard of, it is unthinkable. When I lived in the city and returned home with rare oven-baked bread, it became a treat not just for my mother, but for everyone. The real treat for my mother was seeing me.
Now that I live and work in America, I have been able to afford to build my parents a house with solar power and an indoor toilet. They are not wanting by any means. But when I visit Uganda and ask my mother what she wants, she says "Just you. Come back and see me, and I will be happy." And it isn't just me she treats with special regard. She tells all three of her living children the same and her grandchildren too. It is her family she loves. Not new houses. Not gifts. Not special bread from the city.
My mother loves to serve God and serve others. So I decided to use Mother's Day, not as a day to give my mother a gift she does not want, but to give to other women in need. In Uganda, because HIV/AIDS has wiped out a generation of parents, most needy women are grandmothers. Working through the Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project, with special funding from the Stephen Lewis Foundation, we have already built 135 homes for grandmothers.
"Before the new house," explains grandmother, Nzeramaria. "Whenever it would rain we would have to gather our bedding into one corner. I didn't have any income to help thatch my old house. I am old and weak and don't have strength to work in neighbors' gardens for money. Without Nyaka I don't know what we would do."
This Mother's Day, my sisters and I will honor our mother by helping a poor grandmother struggling to raise five grandchildren. We will build her a house, a kitchen and an outside toilet, all for a mere $1,000. She is only one of millions of women in need all over the world. I challenge you to consider honoring your mother, not with a prewritten card or a bouquet of flowers that will be gone in a few days, but with a gift that will help a mother truly in need. It might turn out to be the best gift you have ever given to your mom. It was for mine!
As Mother's Day advertisements overrun my e-mail three weeks before the holiday, I want to tell advertisers, my mother is not fond of gifts. She does not want cards or flowers. She wants her children and her grandchildren close to her. She is concerned with love, not possessions. My second son, Nolan Ntare Kaguri has not yet met his grandmother. But I can already see her radiant smile as she holds him in her arms for the first time. Another grandchild to love is all she needs.
Happy Mother's Day to every mother on this planet. We acknowledge your sacrifice, your hardships and your undying love. We only hope that we can give back a fraction of what you have given to us.