The Moon in Your Sky: An Immigrant’s Journey Home by Kate Saller
The Moon in Your Sky: An Immigrant’s Journey Home brings to life the remarkable story of Annah Emuge. Growing up in Uganda under the rule of Idi Amin, Annah and her peers faced hardships few of us can imagine. As a young woman, Annah escaped to the United States, only to face more devastating challenges. How Annah overcame the trials she endured in the land she had thought would hold only promise for her and her family is a riveting story of perseverance that will inspire any reader. Annah’s sorrows give depth to the great joys she experiences as she not only survives but triumphs, devoting her life to the suffering of orphans left by the ravages of war in her homeland.
I had just finished speaking to the Rotary Club of St. Charles, Missouri, about my humanitarian work in Africa when a beautiful, statuesque black woman approached me. Without prelude she asked me, “Do you know how to get mosquito nets for fifty-four children in Uganda?” This was my introduction to Annah Frances Acam Emuge, the determined and courageous woman who is the subject of this book.
As I came to know Annah, I was amazed to learn about the joys and tribulations of her life. It seemed as if, every time she told me a story from her past, I was incredulous that one human being could have survived it, and yet that was just one part of her story. Annah was the third daughter born to a poor family in rural Uganda in 1959. I wrote her life entirely through her eyes, to give readers a full sense of growing up as a village child in a country being systematically decimated by its maniacal dictator, Idi Amin Dada. As a child and teenager, this remarkable young woman matured and set the course of her life while enduring the kinds of devastations and threats that we have read about in many such accounts of life in twentieth-century rural Africa. What set Annah’s story apart for me was that it is not about an individual overcoming such an existence, coming to the United States, and finding a clear path back to her roots to improve the lives of those left behind; rather, it is the story of a woman who was faced with even tougher challenges here, and of her extraordinary and largely solitary triumph over all of them.
Entwined in Annah’s tale of grace and strength is the sadder story of her husband, who came to this country filled with hopes and ambitions, only to find that they were all beyond his reach. The loss of his dreams, along with the realities of the life he found here, proved to be more than this talented and brilliant man could withstand.
To accurately portray Annah’s life, I created an outline of the book and then had her tape-record her recollections from each period of her life, one section at a time. I took notes from each recording and then interviewed her to fill out my knowledge of that part of her life. After writing each chapter from my notes, I went over the material with Annah to ensure that she felt it was an accurate and complete picture of her life at that time. As this process progressed, Annah and I realized that I am unusual among her American acquaintances in that I understand and have observed firsthand the life she led in Uganda, sleeping in mud huts and working on the family’s subsistence farm to survive. Through my affiliation with the service organization Rotary International, I have been to five African countries, traveling to and staying in rural areas to immunize children, distribute mosquito nets to orphans, and coordinate the placement of filtered wells in poor communities with no access to clean water. In spite of the unbelievable hardships suffered by the people I encountered there, all of them were warm and welcoming, finding joy in things like the simple act of offering me a crude, handmade stool to rest on in the shade as I worked. It was this same spirit that drew me to Annah when I met her.
Annah did get her fifty-four mosquito nets through Rotary connections, and St. Louis-area Rotarians donated the money needed to purchase them. She has now created a 501(c)(3) organization, the Atai Orphanage Fund (www.ataiorphanage.org), which collects donations to help support the children who live in the orphanage created by her mother. I am a member of the AOF’s board, and we are proud to say that we were able to raise the funds to place a 240-foot bore-hole well on the orphanage’s land in 2010. Although the children sleep in mud huts and live a simple, poor life that differs very little from Annah’s childhood there, they proudly tell anyone who asks that they have a mama in America who loves them.
All of the author's proceeds from sales of this book will be used to support Annah and the orphans of Atai.