Mukwano means friend in the local tribal language called Luganda.
I have this mukwano. She is beautiful, strong, honest, and kind. I met her 5 years ago when I was first in Uganda. She works at a shop in town selling hand-made items to tourists that come through Jinja. At the time we first met, she was pregnant and the other interns and I would come visit her when we were in town and buy gifts from her shop for family back home. Little did I know, that relationship would blossom into a beautiful friendship over the years. I have had the privilege of watching her son, now 4½ years old, grow up. He calls me Auntie Bekah and runs and jumps into my arms when I see him. Sometimes I take him to get ice cream, and he tells me what he is learning in pre-school. He is funny, stubborn, friendly, and full of energy.
Whenever I am on main street I always try to go spend time with the two of them. I sit on the wooden stool and we talk about our day and anything that is happening in town. We talk about what God is teaching us. We talk about trauma and the scars that we carry from people who have hurt us, and how we carry on and process and grow from those hardships. We encourage each other to choose forgiveness, and we remind each other that love is not easy but it’s worth it. Our lives have been so very different, and yet so similar at the same time. We both want to be known and loved. We both desire friends who are kind and loyal. We both want to have fun and enjoy life. We both love our families dearly. Our day to day might look so different, and our cultures teach us different values and norms, but at the end of the day we are both humans who want to love and be loved and share the beautiful redemption of Christ with others because it has transformed our own lives. I am so thankful for my mukwano, and I am excited to see our friendship grow even deeper over the next 2 years.