A tale of how an African orphan was saved 

Kirabo: A Journey of Faith, Love and Adoption is a tribute to a friend who wouldn't let a baby die

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - moving story Tandela Swann (right) adopted Ugandan orphan Mark (left) and became the subject of a book by her friend Kveta Rose. Swann is now married and living in Calgary with her growing family.
  • Photo submitted
  • moving story Tandela Swann (right) adopted Ugandan orphan Mark (left) and became the subject of a book by her friend Kveta Rose. Swann is now married and living in Calgary with her growing family.

Kveta Rose is a first-time author moved to write about the real-life rescue and adoption of a tiny orphan whose plight was so huge it covered two continents.

That her non-fiction book, Kirabo: A Journey of Faith, Love and Adoption, comes from a friend's act to save this tiny child means everything to her.

Kirabo is the true story of Tandela Swann, who was motivated by her Christian faith and adopted a baby boy found abandoned at birth in a pit latrine in Uganda.

Rose recalls: "Tandela was 22 years old; she went to Uganda after university in Alberta to volunteer for an orphanage for six months. She was put in charge of the 10 sickest babies in this orphanage and this baby boy was dying. He was three pounds when he was found and he was seven pounds when she met him, at nine months."

A very sick little boy, he was given less than a month to live by a visiting doctor.

Swann prayed for him and felt that God was telling her to adopt the baby. So she did.

She named him Mark.

"That was totally not in her plans at all. The feeling wouldn't go away so she began to pursue it," Rose says. "People would tell her it wasn't possible, even if Mark lived."

But through Swann's tenacity Mark came through and now lives with her in Calgary. He is a bustling, bright 11 year old who plays Triple-A rep hockey and does well in school. In 2010, Tandela married and now she and her husband have a family of three boys.

The book was launched in November.Rose, who grew up in Vancouver and Whistler, self-published Kirabo. It took about six years from start to publication."I didn't really set out to write a book. I didn't think it would take this long and because Tandela is in Calgary I had to go there three times to conduct interviews with her and her family. I went to Uganda to see firsthand these places. It ended up being quite a journey of my own!" Rose says.

"I didn't want to spend years securing an agent or publishing house. I just wanted it to be shared, to be encouraging and inspiring."

Even before she wrote the story, Rose worked for orphanages herself, in Madagascar and India.

"I could picture what Tandela went through myself. I knew what she was talking about," Rose says. "And when I started the book I wasn't a parent but I became a parent in the process and it informed my writing."

She wants Swann, who now uses her married name Castilla, to inspire those going through adversity.

"The book speaks to any decision that people make that goes against the tide. You are going to encounter obstacles and loneliness and fear but on the flip side, you can also experience an intense, indescribable joy," Rose says.

"As many people know with international adoption, it's tough and there is a lot of corruption. She made her way as best as she could."

And Uganda, at the time, was going through civil war and Swann was seeing victims of war constantly. This, too, became part of the story.

The book is available at Armchair Books in Whistler Village and Pilgrim Books in Vancouver, and on Amazon. For more information visit www.kirabobook.com.


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