by Picot Allen
I volunteered with Shanti Uganda in Uganda a few summers ago. One of the most beautiful journeys I've been on yet! I worked with three amazing women, all living with HIV, and taught them how to sew. The four of us started out as complete strangers, and over a short period of time (7 weeks) became more important in eachother's lives, than I think any of us thought possible.
While I was working with the women, Robinah, Jessca and Prossy, I noticed that Robinah was a bit on the large side! One day as we were busy working away, someone alluded to the fact the Robinah's baby would soon be here. I asked, just how soon, and was comp
letely shocked to hear that Robinah was 9 months pregnant and would be giving birth any day now! I expressed my excitement abou
t the new addition to the sewing team, as well as my concern about Robinah missing many sewing days, with my teaching days being numbered, and was quickly reassured that new Ugandan mothers rarely miss more than one or two days of work after birth! Living in a house full of boys, Robinah told me that she was hoping for her first girl.
The following Sunday, I was on a trip and received a phone call from Robinah's excited sister, announcing the birth of a baby girl! I was so excited, that I jumped into a matatu (local bus) and headed back to Luweero to meet this little girl. When I arrived in the hospital room,
I was greeted with the most adorable and tiny bundle placed in my arms..."Baby Picot!" Absolutely, soul touching.
Robinah and baby Picot were back sewing in no time (literally, two days later) and that was when the fun really began... whenever baby Picot made a peep, (because I wanted robinah to focus on her sewing) I got to tend to BP's every need....every need that was, until she started sucking on my neck as if milk was going to come out of it! I grew very attached to this little girl in a short amount of time. With baby Picot, It was as if I had an unlimited amount of time to be with her. If I wasn't holding her, or she wasn't being fed, she was on the floor on a woven mat, in the corner of the hut, doing baby things all alone. Completely content, as far as I could tell. I took complete advantage of the fact that I had as much time as I wanted, and seemed to be the only person who was interested in, snuggling with a new born baby!
While I was in Luweero, I also taught English lessons to the Shanti bead making women. Such vibrant and passionate women, who sure knew how to have a good time! The little sewing/beading hut would be roaring with laughter from before those ladies had even strung their first bead. We were all sitting around one day, the sewing sistas, sewing, the beading ladies, beading, and baby Picot and I snuggling. One of the ladies pointed to me and baby Picot, and then to Robinah, working away, and then back to me and the baby again, speaking in their local dialect, Luganda. Whatever it was they were talking about, there were many heads nodding together in consensus, when one of the ladies said, "Picot, you take that one to Canada. Not to worry, Robinah will have more." Robinah looked up from her machine, giggled, and nodded in unison with the other women. I joined in with the giggles, and as politely as I could, told them that of course baby Picot's home was in Uganda, and that Robinah and her brothers would give her a beautiful life!