By Joseph Kyebuzibwa
Often when people die, we heap praises upon them.
Yet from the time we are born until we die, we encounter people whose support helps lift the burden of living. People who are selfless and will do anything to make our lives better.
These people could be close relatives and friends. Or they could be total strangers.
This is my personal testimony.
I grew up in a humble family but generally, life, as we know it, was not easy. Not until I met a humble, good Samaritan, whose generosity and support I want to celebrate on this platform.
I met Phyllis on April 23 2004. I was in my final semester pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences at Makerere University. I grew up not knowing my birth-date but I have since made April 23rd my birth date.
It was about 3.00 PM in the afternoon. I was seated on a bench near the main library, waiting for a colleague to join me.
Before long, I saw a white lady in her late 50s who came and sat next to me.
After a few minutes later, she asked for my help. At first, she just wanted to know the faculty building that was in front of us.
She went further by asking me who I was, a few questions about my family and how I got into Makerere University.
It was more of a question and answer session. As I responded to her questions, she was jotting down my responses. I became suspicious. We talked for close to 20 minutes and she left.
But she left me with something that changed my life; her email address. Yes, an email address.
Days later, she left the country. I went to an internet café and opened up an email account. My first email account!
With the help of the café attendant, I sent out my ever first email asking if she had reached safely. I checked back and I found she had replied positively.
We occasionally exchanged pleasantries until we met again in May 2006, two years after our first encounter.
She invited me for dinner at Mosa Court Hotel. I did not know the hotel location and I didn’t have the ‘right’ clothes to fit the occasion. I borrowed everything I wore that day except the underwear.
I did not even know how to read the menu but that is a story for another day!
At dinner she asked me if I would like to pursue further studies. I could not think of anything else except a post graduate diploma. She asked what about a master degree? I smiled at her suggestion, I knew it was impossible given the prohibitive tuition fees yet I had no job.
We later settled for a Masters in Sociology. She agreed to meet the then College Dean and my application was successful. Our interaction became regular. Together with her husband Anthony Robbins-whom I later met physically in 2009 they paid all my tuition and upkeep. I successful graduated and I owe my masters degree to them (Phyllis and Tony)
What they have done
The position Phyllis and Tony occupy in my lives is boundless. I do not have the right words to put into perspective how their support has transformed me. When I write about my achievements, I am literary writing about them.
Starting a family was as a result of the courage and inspiration I got from Phyllis and Tony. I did not have any resources available to start a family. The modest research assignments I was involved in at the time could not see us through all the expenses but all was well because of Phyllis and Tony.
We started up a family in a rented unit until 2011 when Phyllis and Tony supported us through the construction of our family owned home. Our home is now shelter to our extended family.
I come from a background where ‘meaningful’ education is a privilege. If it wasn’t for my education, I wouldn’t have found the opportunity to meet Phyllis and Tony. So, if there is anything else I want to be remembered for, it is the struggles I have to endure to see that our next family generation gets proper formal education.
With your love, support and care, we have embarked on so many projects together with the aim of educating our next generation. We began with real estate, I personally got involved in brick making, getting all the additional resources from Phyllis and Tony. This project is the spine of our education goals for many of our youngsters.
We ventured into farming because of Phyllis and Tony. This and other activities now define me. It’s all I do from day to day and I do it with pleasure because it supplements our rental income and provides us with food security. These activities require a lot of dedication and resources all of which are a result of the support of Phyllis and Tony. =
As a country we have a systemic problem of land grabbing, Phyllis and Tony supported us through rescuing our land from land grabbers. Land is the last thing every family can hold on to and is a preserve of the next generation. It is on this land which is now formally/legally ours that I positioned our maize project. We plant maize extensively and give it to schools where our children study from in exchange of school fees.
My father in-law, whose life you both saved by meeting all the ICU Covid-19 treatment costs, clearly sums up your goodness to us. Many people lost their lives even with money available to them but what made a difference was the constant and swift communication every time we needed to ask about something.
You took off time and did research and shared all you know about this new infection. This information was timely and helped save a life.
What more can I write?
Phyliss and Tony, I am eternally grateful for your support. Dear reader, you too, should appreciate people who have helped turn your life around…when they are still alive!
The author is a good citizen of this beautiful country called Uganda