You would think that my story begins the minute that we came through the gates of O’Hare airport. With the signs, the balloons, the friends and family that traveled hours to see me for the first time. Or the moment when we took our first family picture with eyes so jet lagged that we could barely stand up straight and I was so scared. I was amidst all the chaos trying to figure out who all these people were and why they wanted to get close to me and my mom.
But this is not where my story begins. My story begins when a boda boda driver risked everything to save me.
My mom took a picture with you and I at the court. So I would always know who you were. That I would always remember that you stopped that day years ago when you saw me lying in the swamp. You didn’t have to stop. I am sure that hundreds of others passed me by. I am sure they heard a small baby cry. I am sure they saw whoever leave me there walk away. But you didn’t keep going. In your heart you knew that the right thing to do is not always the easiest. And on that dusty red road you stopped and were the first to love me enough to give me a chance. On this Valentine’s day…thank you. Thank you for loving me enough to stop.
Along the way there were those of you that did the best you could for me with what you had. I know you wish you could have found my parents. That they would have come forward. That I didn’t need to be alone night after night crying for the ache that only a mother can soothe. My mom has pictures of where I stayed. Where I was. Where you protected me. On this Valentine’s day…thank you. thank you for protecting me.
Mama Robin. I will always carry the name you gave me. Kwagala. My mom tells me it means love. It will remain with me because she wants to me to know just how much you loved me. You fought for me. You fed me. You brought me back to health. You taught me to laugh. You sang to me. You were gentle with my heart. You prayed for me. But most of all you saw something in me that no one else saw. You knew that I was born to be a brother. That God had designed me to be a part of something bigger. Something called family. My mom shows me pictures of you and I together and tells me every day how much you love me. On this Valentine’s day…thank you. Thank you for finding me a home. Thank you for loving me all the way to my family.
Even before my family saw my face or knew my story there were those all over the world that were supporting me and praying words of hope over me. Those that will be a part of my story that I will never see or know. But on this Valentine’s day…thank you. Thank you for speaking Jesus into my heart and loving me before you even knew me.
With love, Ephraim Kwagala.