In 1984 while in my 20s, my father passed away. Being the eldest child in the family, I took on the father-figure role as a tradition in our culture - meaning that I was responsible for taking care of my entire family (11 siblings and mother).
Earlier on, my father being a minister of a small church and a missionary, he had taught me the importance of serving and doing missionary work.
By the late 1970s and 80s, I was already traveling the country with him, helping on missionary trips. The experience presented me with the opportunity to learn a lot, witnessing first-hand the challenges and difficulties that many people in the rural areas were faced with, and the impact of missionary work on the communities where they lived.
On December 24th, 1984, while returning from a mission trip, my father was involved in a car accident, and he died. After his death, I was left to carry on with the missionary work he had started as well as take care of my siblings and my mom.
It was very challenging for me to take on such responsibilities at a young age.
I did all kinds of odd jobs, trying to take care of my family as well as continuing to work with the poor communities needing support and love.
Though it was not easy, I was not going to sit and watch while others are suffering; I embarked on a mission to do all that I could to help. I was passionate to see people's lives transformed.
In 1988 I shared my story and the challenges with a friend of mine who later gave me a book which would be my inspiration; the biography of George Muller.
George was a Christian evangelist and Director of the Ashley Down orphanage in Bristol, England, who is recorded to have cared for 10,024 orphans in his life. He was well known for providing education to the children under his care, to the point where he was accused of raising the poor above their natural station in life.
Being a poor man himself, he did not have enough resources to support them, but when asked how he was able to help them, he stated that he used his voice as an evangelist to raise awareness about the cause, and he relied on word of God.
In one interview with him conducted by Pastor Charles R Parsons, George was asked whether he has always found the Lord faithful to His promise, and he responded, "Always! He has never failed me! For nearly seventy years, every need in connection with this work has been supplied.
The orphans, from the first until now have numbered nine thousand five hundred; but they have never wanted a meal. Hundreds of times, we have commenced the day without a penny, but our Heavenly Father has sent supplies the moment they were required. There never was a time when we had no wholesome meal. During all these years, I have been enabled to trust in the living God alone."
It is was like a "light bulb" moment for me. My faith was stirred, and I knew God was orchestrating something way beyond what my mind could fathom at the time. All I had to do was to be obedient, have faith, and let Him take control, knowing well that He would make provisions.
From James 1:27, I knew that helping those in need was right at the core of God's heart; it states that "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."
At this point, I knew I had to do something. I had already witnessed astonishing levels of poverty within the communities I had served.
Though I grew up in a poor home myself, the missionary work had exposed me to life and human suffering I'd thought unimaginable. The most affected were children. There were no schools, so kids stayed home doing all sorts of jobs; what many of us would consider child labor. Often parents forced young girls into early marriages with older men just because they wanted bride price.
I also learned that many of these experiences existed in other parts of Uganda but were being addressed by some groups, partly because the areas were more accessible compared to the communities where I worked. We often used boats, sailing through thick swamps to access these areas. The roads were in bad shape and dangerous. There were also growing fears of people being ambushed by robbers while traveling to these communities. It would have been understandably difficult for anyone to reach out there.
I fell in love with these communities - places with no public electricity, healthcare, clean running water, yet the people had the warmest and brightest spirits. The energy was positive, like no worries existed in their lives. Over the next few months, I met children who taught me the meaning of courage, love, and perseverance. Many of them had suffered from diseases for years and yet kept pressing on, praying, hoping, and surviving. It changed my life. I had to take a step of faith.
In 1989, I started with three orphans, and we are now serving over 3000 children, educating and developing them, equipping them with skills to become productive leaders. We believed and stepped out in faith, and God has been faithful.
It's a Swahili translation for "Always Believe." For me, the spirit of never giving up and always believing, regardless of the present situation, is what sustained our humble beginning. It's a lesson I partly learned from the people I had met in the communities we served - people who even in difficult times — always believed that someday day life would get better.
I was blessed to have had a growing local team of compassionate individuals wanting to change the story of their land. That's why we couldn't wait for external funding to start - we used what we had; mud and sticks which we used to start our first schools, yet seeing hundreds of children signing up to receive education for the first time. Little did we know this would help spring up eight learning centers across Uganda.
The Gospel became alive and practical for us. From the bible is a great lesson we learned from Isaiah 1:17 which states that "Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow." It was exciting yet humbling to see lives transformed. Over 4000 children are now being served.
Looking back right now, I see no way this service could have turned out the way it has. I am humbly reminded that many times when God asks us to do something, often he will not give us the blueprint of the journey; He expects us to have some faith (not putting our eyes on what's around us) and then step out to act. He then handles the rest. He uses people from different backgrounds to come together for a significant cause.
I learned that sometimes helping is easy, more often inconvenient (because it gets us out of our comfort zones), but always necessary. It has the power to change this world.