Foreword: Dear Reader! You can’t understand to what extent it has been difficult to start this story. I had a lot of self-judgment about how I can reveal some of my chocking times, together with pride from my successes. I struggled with my inner to make equilibrium between the good and bad times, the failures and successes, what to tell and what not to tell. Thanks to God! After reading summaries of some stories from the imagine project: “I decided to write”. This story is about my life journey, how some life events have shaped me and how I was turned into who I am now from dark and long days. I am happy, I have a good family, I have completed the level of education I wanted, I am invested in helping other people to become, possibly, like me or who they wish to be. I have impacted lives of some more people. I was orphan at the age of 9 when in 3rd year of primary school that has created a deep place in my real and psychological life. I sometimes don’t want to recall that place that has shaped my personality today, a place that has taught me to love and to help others, and a place where I want to take others from. A place I call “dark days”. However, I am also proud of talking about where I am today to show a positive change is possible, a life of joy and faith is possible.
This story is dedicated to Almighty God and my Thanks go to my Family and the Author of THEIMAGINE PROJECT.
I was born in a happy family in a rural village with 20 brothers and 14 sisters all from one father and three women. I grew up happily to level 3 of primary school after which I had some drop-outs. However I went on and finished secondary school. The event of secondary school certificate has been a candle for my life journey. I was a fearful child, I always wanted to act in accordance with regulations wherever I could be. At the end of the secondary school, I obtained a chance to continue and have a year post-secondary school diploma. That time I was 23 years old, and I was 2 years older that my classmates but I went on. One thought was always coming in my mind: I have to work hard, learn and become rich” only the idea of becoming rich was in my mind. I never knew what even being rich means. I thought being rich means having a lot of vehicles, big and many houses, two or more wives and have respect in the society by being a Minister for example. This idea made me move from the village to the city. That was in 1991 when I entered Kampala. That time Kampala was looking like a bush. The city was almost only where the city center (shopping) today is. It was a big problem to find accommodation or get to know how to start life, but I struggled so hard start life in the city. The first day I had to sleep in a restaurant where I had taken my first food in the city and where I later asked and got my first job. Soon after, just a month, I started teaching in a secondary school and saved money from there to continue with post-secondary school diploma. I got a second two years post-secondary school diploma in 1994. I moved to stay in Capital city suburb which and started getting acquainted with a number of people who were living in that place that time. In almost just one year the place became congested and made a strong village with many people, many children and women. The economic activities of people of that place were digging the surrounding areas, going to the city center for daily jobs, investment in small businesses of restaurants and construction of house for rich people and the construction sector was growing at a high speed that time. After considering the number of the population of the area, I had an idea of starting a primary school to take care of their children, but a little bit later I abandoned the idea of a primary school and had another of a secondary school. The question which had to come in my mind was how I could do it. I also thought that I would start it with a help of community members with who we could organize ourselves into a group or association but it was hard to make people understand the plan. The idea was warmly welcomed by only 6 people and we have interested other 2 people, then the school started in 1995 with 25 students from that community. We wanted to start a school whereby students couldn’t pay any fee. I approached priests from the nearby parish to request for support such that students could learn for free, but I couldn’t get it. Therefore, as a community we decided that the school will survive on school fees from students. The school grew quickly that in 2000s it had reached 400 students and had built its first two classroom blocks.
In 1995, I was married, and had my first daughter. My wife was very active and helpful in my difficult job to develop the community secondary school that I had started with the help of other community members. At the moment, we have six children and the eldest is starting the university studies soon in August 2014. The years from 1995 to 2005 were years of growing and succeeding in empowering, the secondary school I contributed in the starting and positioning myself as my permanent job. As I was operating the school together with community members, my family was also growing and in 2005 I had had 5 children already: 4 daughters and one boy. In the year 2003, I decided to start a long journey of studying which was intended to reach me to doctoral studies. I started In Makerere University in the faculty of social sciences. At the end of the bachelor’s degree that I obtained in February 2007, I immediately started Master’s degree in Women and Gender studies still at Makerere University. My scores were always the best and before Master’s graduation in 2010 I had already submitted my concept note for the admission to PhD studies. The admission was given to me easily as I was the best scorer and I started my PhD studies immediately after graduating for Master’s in August 2010. Another triumph of my life during that all time is turning my heart to Jesus. This is a huge part of my life and of my family I can’t underscore in my story telling. I became born again Christian, recognized Jesus as my only savior in 2004, when I was in second year of the bachelor’s studies. All my family followed me afterwards and we started making prayers at home as a family in our everyday life. It is a great triumph because the family is ever together in faith. My last triumph took place in 2008, by starting again talking with the community, that due to high inflation, slow economic recession that was remarked from 2005, the school was no more capable to cover all its expenses and meet its original objectives. I and the community members agreed on starting a Non-Government Organization which will help the school to cover some of its expenses by looking for financial means to renovate its buildings which were 15 years old that time, the organization was also given the responsibility to implement all other possible programs that will enhance the life of vulnerable people in the community and possibly extend its activities countrywide. On the top of the agenda of the program, was to enhance education for girls and innovate in programs that will make the public aware of the impact of environment on women and girls and how these can fight the environmental gradation; using education and training. It took long to make all necessary procedures before the organization started working as a Non-Governmental Organization. It was officially registered in 2011 and I was appointed as the Executive Director, and started working officially as its leader. This is one of major triumphs of my life, by which I started a new journey, a new world of not only helping young people but now everyone in need with an emphasis on women and girls.
Life is always lived, it is beautiful and challenging. In daily life, you meet challenges and you learn how to overcome them. I was born in a big and good family, with 20 brothers and 14 sisters from 4 women and one father. Unfortunately, I lost my mother when I was 9 years old in 3rd year of primary school. At that time, no one knew what would happen after, the relatives shared us and I went to stay to my maternal aunt for a while. The new home was not too strange but was boring though, I stayed there with one brother of mine and one sister while others went also to stay in other relatives’ homes. I was challenged by going on with studies, the school was very far and I had to walk 8 miles every day to and from school. It was like a cross. I was tired and I was looking tired every day. I could not get the food as I used to do before. However my father was still helpful. He was visiting us as many times as he could and check how we are doing. Despite the long distance and other problems, I was always scoring the best in class. I finished the primary school the best in class and started secondary school. I could get the school fees from my father and I started in a boarding school. There, life changed and everything was new and beautiful. I really enjoyed the three first years of secondary school and I was still very successful. Until a new dramatic life changer event came again on board: my father died also when I was in 3rd year of secondary school. It was very difficult to continue and finish the secondary school. My mind was completely destabilized and this lead me to get a lower score than predicted compare to the level at which I had succeeded in previous years. The loss of my father, the last person I could rely on, has been on the center of my decision to leave the village and migrate to Kampala city to look for a new life due to the loss of hope and a lonely life. I was considering my life as a disappointment and a failure, but moving to the city has allowed to meet and make other people, with different problems and different opportunities.
- Losing my mother at the age of 9 ______________________________________________
- Losing my father at the age of 16 ________________________________________________
- Moving to the city at the age of 23 ________________________________________________
IMAGINE…Desperation, Change and Happiness
Imagine… growing in a large and beautiful family- 20 brothers and 14 sisters from 4 women and one father.
Imagine… imagine losing your mother in a family structure like this and be orphan at the age of 9.
Imagine… Losing again you father at the age of 16 and look around you, many brothers and sisters, who cannot help each other
Imagine… going to draw water with a recipient of 20 litters in a very dark night after walking 8 miles to from school
Imagine… getting up every 4h30 morning and walk 4miles to school and be the best in class
Imagine… being in a village: no electricity, no water and collect firewood every Saturday and Sunday
Imagine… decide to go to the city at the age of 23 without knowing anybody there,
Imagine…spending you first nights in a restaurant and later get a job from that restaurant,
Imagine…changing your life just one month after arriving in the city by getting a job of your dream
Imagine…making new friends in a new community and sharing the same feelings about the future
Imagine…seeing a community growing very first in number of people and feel concerned with the children and their future
Imagine…starting a secondary school with the community without any financial means and succeed it
Imagine…getting married and having your first child
Imagine…having a wife who understands you and supports you in everything that is right and guides you daily
Imagine…seeing your children growing as your job career is also growing
Imagine…building a house for your family to shelter yourself and for your family
Imagine…starting university at the age of 35 and go up to doctorate level
Imagine…discovering gender aspects in the society whereby women are not given chance to contribute to the development
Imagine…imagine being educated in a society where girls are forced to be married at 15 years old
Imagine…imagine being educated in a society where poor people remain poor even after they are educated
Imagine…having an idea to change your community and contribute to the start of a school
Imagine…seeing your contribution to the community growing and lives being changed
Imagine…contributing again by starting a non-governmental organization to change lives of community members
Imagine…being appointed as a prominent person in a community to administer its organization
Imagine…seeing happy families and children due to an outcome of projects of the community organization
Imagine…seeing community members coming back to their cradle village to help their community to move economically
Imagine…witnessing a bush becoming a city suburb and later a city zone
Imagine… the change in office practices along with time, computers replace typing machines, photocopiers replace cyclostyle machines,
Imagine…witnessing a childhood and teenage of writing and sending letters by post or hand, and a generation of mobile phones, emails even up to social media and chat apps
Imagine . . . moving my community to the environment free of poverty and its relatives vices
Imagine . . . having a PhD
Imagine . . . enjoying having a good family and a supportive wife
Imagine . . . spending part of your income to change other people’s lives
Imagine . . . winning an award in philanthropy that will help the poor community
Imagine…having a new, equipped and technologically advanced schools for poor students
Imagine… Uganda free of gender inequalities and with strong women integrative institutions
Imagine… International women festival in Uganda invited and organized by the organization of our community
THE IMAGINE PROJECT
I am different
I changed my life
I can change other people
I can write many books about women and gender in my country
I can develop my community and be exemplar in my country
I can bring many project in my country and show the world that change is possible