It is hard to imagine that one Auntie can put 20 children to sleep, in the same room, and succeed. The Aunties do this every day with a skill and expertise that has become renowned. When the Aunties go about their work they do not struggle or stress, even if a kid is flipping out and chaos is everywhere. The Aunties are calm, collected, and in full control. This makes it comfortable and less intimidating for our many wonderful volunteers to get involved because not only are they caring for the children, young and old, they are also meeting the needs of our steady flow of guests and visitors.
Caring for the little ones is easy compared to managing our 15 teenage girls, but the Aunties have found their way with them as well, and they have done so by building strong relationships. Every child in the house depends on the Aunties to guide and counsel them through their problems. They are consistent, light-hearted, and peaceful, the ingredients that allow everyone to participate on their own accord. If an Auntie asks someone to do something, the task is accomplished whole heartedly and immediately. The kids work alongside the Aunties every chance they get, and because they are appreciated for their contributions, and efforts they always come back to help out the next time around.
Each of our Aunties was found in our local village of Lunyo, within walking distance of our home. Like many Ugandan women, they were all in desperate states, most with children of their own but unable to find work to support their family. They tried to depend on men to support them, but often that situation was not in their best interest, to say the least.
The Aunties create their own rotating schedule, with two staying with the children at night. They manage this among themselves and work together to adjust it as needed. Their independence extends to their lives outside of Malayaka House, to include bank accounts, identification, and health care… benefits the majority of Ugandan women do not have access to. We pay them a competitive wage because they earn it, and then some. We wish we could pay them more. They are each the highest wage-earners of their households and are now able to support themselves, their children, and their extended families.
We hold our Aunties in the absolute highest regard. It is because of them that our children are thriving.