Giving Hope Where I Lost Mine: How Breastmilk Delivery Helped ATTA’s Rider Cope with Grief

I was a boda boda rider in the area of Naalya. I had a good number of clients for whom I would run errands. These included transporting people, shopping, delivering items and sometimes banking money.

One of my clients was a lady called Dorothy who I used to take to Kyambogo University where she was studying. However, when she completed her studies, she shifted to Kira and I could no longer affordably serve her. I therefore asked her to find another boda boda rider close to her new home to cut costs.

Because our relationship had been built over time and she had grown to trust me; she did not take it well that she had to find another person. She, however, stayed in touch even when she got another boda boda rider.

Later on I received a call from an unknown caller who introduced herself as Tracy. She informed me that Dorothy had shared my number with her. She was in need of a boda boda rider to deliver a package to Kulambiro and asked if I could do the job; to which I agreed.

Tracy asked me to be at her place by 8am the next morning. I had no idea what I would be transporting but I trusted her because of my relationship with Dorothy. I was handed a bag and told to pass by Dorothy’s home.

When I got to Dorothy’s home, I handed over the bag as I had been instructed. I watched Dorothy walk to the refrigerator, pick some items and place them in the bag. Though Tracy had told me that it was milk, I didn’t know what kind it was. Without questioning, I received back the bag. Having watched the Transporter movie series, I did not check to see what exactly was in the package; I knew it wouldn’t be right.

With the contact details provided, I got in touch with the recipient and handed over the package.. Tracy had told me that all he had to do was pay me for delivering the package; I asked for Ugx10,000. This, I learnt, was Ugx10,000 less what the previous rider had charged him. Shocked at the amount I had asked for, he decided to give me the Ugx 20,000. He took the bag, emptied its content and gave it back to me.

I later learnt that the person who had been doing the deliveries before me had left the country for work. I heard that Tracy had tried to look for help from other boda boda riders but they were overcharging clients in delivery fees. Tracy then sought help from friends on a certain group for a trustworthy boda boda rider and Dorothy recommended me. She assured her that I was humane, honest and respectful; my profile is what brought me to ATTA. I started working for ATTA without knowing the organization or Tracy. She saw how I worked and believed I was a good fit.

The next time I was sent to Dorothy’s home, she asked if I knew what kind of milk I was transporting. I told her I did not know. She took time to explain that I was delivering breast milk to frail babies that needed it to survive and grow well. She then showed me what it looked like in a milk bag.

That day I made my last Kulambiro delivery and for the first time I knew how precious the package I handed over was. I was playing a part in saving lives of little children. As a father, I knew how golden the opportunity was.

Shortly after this I started making trips to another mother in Wampewo. It is around this time that my child fell sick. I was still doing the ATTA work but it was a difficult season given the hospital trips I often had to make while trying to offer as much emotional support as possible to my wife. But while attending to my own problems, I knew that another child’s survival also depended on me delivering the needed milk. So I made sure that even amidst the chaos, the milk was delivered.

Unfortunately, my child’s situation did not change and he eventually died. By that time I had worked for ATTA for about a month. When the child died, I received a call from Tracy to make a delivery and I told her I had lost a child and was preparing for burial. I had not told her about my sick child. Tracy was shocked that I had been quiet about my situation when ATTA could have been of help. I told her that I had just joined and didn’t know if ATTA had any connections with doctors that could have helped. She stood with me financially and charged me not to ever be quiet in my times of trouble.

After the burial, I could not stay home. The memories of my child all around the house haunted me. The visitors though so graciously checking on us made it even more emotionally draining.

Tracy later on called and asked me if I was going to continue working since ATTA work was related to babies and I had just lost mine. I told her that I didn’t want any other parent to go through the pain that I was dealing with. I was determined to work even harder to make sure as many babies were saved.

I started delivering milk two days after I buried my child. Time and time again, as I picked or delivered the milk, I would encounter children his age and I would break down and cry. But deep down I knew that I was better off out here in the field helping other parents not lose their children than being home pitying myself.

Out here I was able to grieve meaningfully; seeing hope where I had lost mine, and learning that not all was lost. If I had been educated, maybe I would have studied medicine and become a pediatrician so I could help as many children live.

I am however grateful that even now, I can still play a part in saving the lives of little children.