An introduction to my Uganda Family
Those of you who have been following my news about my visits to Uganda over the years know that St James Junior School, James Mutyaba and his family are only one part of my life out here. I would like to share with my newer supporters another very important part, my Uganda family who have brought much pleasure to me and my family and friends over the nine years since I first met Alex the second born of twins who head a family of six brothers! I first met him in 2007 though he apparently knew me before that from my annual stays to Maria’s Care Children’s Home in Kamuli where I was initiated into life in Uganda from 2002 to 2007.
When I first met Alex he had been forced to leave school without completing his O levels, was unemployed and struggling to look after himself and, unbeknown to me, his five brothers as his father had died and his mother had run away from home because of uncles chasing her off her husbands land, which is something that is not unusual here in Uganda! I kept in touch with him until my visit the following year when my whole family came with me to Uganda to attend James’ daughter Moureen’s wedding. Moureen was a teacher at Maria’s Care and I had spent many happy hours teaching along side her at the KPPS, Kamuli Parents Primary School which was attached to the children’s home.
My family and I spent much of our holiday getting to know Alex and as it came to an end decided we would like to help him in some way so we called him and his brother Robert together and asked them how we could help. Robert decided he would like to do a car mechanics course at college and Alex wanted to return to school to work for his ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels. It was a real struggle for him as he had been out of study mode for several years but with hard work and determination and the help of some wonderful family and friends here in the UK he achieved his goal and is now building a small tour business taking people on safari, ferrying them to and from Entebbe Airport and anywhere they want to go. He is a fantastic young man, always fun to be with and very helpful which to me is invaluable! So if you ever come to Uganda I encourage you to use his company Joyful Uganda Adventures!
Then we discovered the brothers. Mike was next on the list and did A Levels and is now working in a restaurant which has internet facilities. He has also gained a full legal driving licence which is very unusual in Uganda, and is looking for a drivers job. Bosco also achieved A Levels and today I visited him in the Maternity Ward of Jinja Main Hospital where he is doing some on the job training at the end of his first year studying to be a nurse. He made me laugh when I was talking to him about his recent hospital experience when he asked me quite seriously ‘Mum G, why do women make so much noise when they are giving birth?’ You can use your imagination at my reply!!
Ivan the next brother found himself responsible for a baby and now sells clothes to keep his family.
Last but not least is Paul who, when we first met him was a skinny and unkempt boy in the village. He has gained ‘O’ Levels and is now studying the most difficult combination of ‘A’ levels, Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Maths. His dream is to become a doctor! Alex took me to visit Paul yesterday as it was Parents & Guardians Visitation Day. We found Paul looking tired and anxious as he was finding the course very difficult indeed and was worried he might let his sponsors down. I believe he is just studying too hard and not giving his brain a break and I reassured him that we will be proud of him whatever he achieves. I really do think he might have taken on more than he can chew but we will support him in his endeavours and if he has to change courses then we will do our best to find the money.
You have also met Innocent through my blogs and he has become part of my Ugandan family too. I met Innocent in 2011 when I was visiting his grandmothers house. My daughter Sara and her now husband Owen were visiting Uganda and Innocent offered to show us around as Alex, who usually had the job had to go back to school. I knew from speaking to his cousin John Baptist that Innocent would dearly like to go to university so early on in our friendship I had to tell him that I could be his friend but could not offer to help him financially. He modestly said that he was fine with that and became a great friend.
and a great help to me and St James as he became my postman. I would send James a letter attached to an email, Innocent would travel to the internet café print it out and take it to the school. Then James would reply and Innocent typed out the letter and emailed it back. I paid all his expenses and paid him a small amount for his trouble. I happened to mention about Innocents job as out postman and his wish to go to uni and asked if anyone reading my newsletter would consider sponsoring him. Within a week I had had replies and offers of sponsorship to the exact amount he needed for his fees. I’m starting to believe in miracles!!
I remember calling him and telling him the good news. The phone went quiet then a voice asked me to repeat what I had said. He couldn’t believe what I was telling him! My husband Norman and I took on his living expenses ad three years later he gained a degree in Business Studies and Accountancy. He is now setting up a piggery business which is what he always dreamed of. He has a couple of small businesses, a bar called Mirembe (Peace) and a ‘music centre’ (see photo!), which struggle to make a profit especially during times like recently where the drought has prevented the locals from spending any money on luxuries, they often don’t even bring in enough to pay the rent and for food. But these young people don’t give up easily!
It really has been a pleasure watching all these young men achieve their potential to give them the best chance of gaining employment and I thank my family and friends for giving them the chance through financial sponsorship. If anyone of you would like to help in this way please let me know as we often struggle to cover the fees and expenses.