IN 2012 MICHAELA TRAVELED TO UGANDA AND FOUND FRANKIE'S FAMILY. BELOW IS THE STORY OF HER INCREDIBLE JOURNEY AND THE FOUNDING OF STARCHILD
After both my parents died, I came across Frankie’s adoption papers. Having read the short notes on his mother, and the circumstances surrounding his adoption, I could not stop wondering about her and what it must have been like to give up her child. There was very little information in the notes themselves, as adoption at that time was cloaked in secrecy.
My imagination took over and hence the birth of my fictional novel ‘The Matoke Tree.’
I had arranged to go to Uganda, mainly for research for the novel. I had set up a number of meetings, one of which was at the Gayaza High School, just outside Kampala. Since my main character was very loosely based on Frankie’s mum (who was a teacher), I had placed her in this school as a teacher.
Later, when I had the privilege to interview a missionary, Sheelagh Warren, who had been the Headteacher at Gayaza for 40 yrs, I discovered, by complete serendipity, that Frankie’s grandfather had been the pastor there from 1950 – 1960. It was like finding a needle in a haystack without even trying! I had not set out to find Frankie’s family.
When I visited Gayaza to interview the head teacher, Vicki, little did I know that his mother attended the school and was one of the schools brightest pupils! Only the week before, they had found a photograph of her from 1948! Before I arrived there I had only a faint hope that, just maybe, they would have a photograph of his Grandfather.
Seeing her photograph for the first time was extremely emotional. She looked so like him.
By another strange coincidence, while I was there, a member of staff passed by the Head teacher's door. Now this teacher, Phibi, was not supposed to be there that day as it was a school holiday. However as fate would have it, she came by to pick up some papers and Vicki called out to her to come and join us. It turned out Phibi was a relative and knew Frankie’s family. They were so excited by this synchronicity and encouraged me with great enthusiasm to meet with the family.
Within 3 hours I was sitting with Frankie’s brother Frank.
I will let the photographs and video tell you the rest.