by Kisuki Simon Nimrod, DSP Social Worker.
WE ARE MADE FOR HAPPINESS.
My name is Okello Raymond, a 20year old staying with my mother and siblings in Acholi quarters – Kireka. My family is originally from Pader district in Northern Uganda but we had to flee to Kampala due to the constant attacks and threats from the rebels of the Lord Resistance Army. I’ve been told I was 4 years old then. My parents, Owona John Bosco and Ataro Rose successfully led this journey to Kampala where we ended up settling within the slums of Kireka (Acholi quarters). Life has not been easy; however, the start was definitely the hardest part. Around 2011, my parents found out that they had contracted the HIV Virus and my father decided to go back to the village because he was becoming weaker from the virus. He felt that it was best to leave because he wasn’t contributing anything to the household anymore. He also said he needed a calmer environment to settle in since the war had stopped but to us it felt like he was giving up on life and us.
My siblings and I have since then been raised by our mother who has struggled to make ends meet through her alcohol brewing business. There was a time when life became so tough she nearly gave up on educating us and the only practicle solution seemed to be joining our father in the village. This was especially hard on mother not just physically but mentally as well because other than the dire financial situation, she had to come to terms with the fact that she now had the HIV-virus to fight for a chance to raise her children herself. During this period, mom heard about how big an impact Meeting Point International (MPI) was making on the lives of the people within the community, decided to attend one of the meetings and our lives have never been the same. After a while, we started attending school in better schools, mom started looking forward to the meetings with the women and was always happier when she came back home. Our relationship with MPI kept growing due to mom’s active participation in MPI activities and the home visits carried out by MPI social workers to ensure we are doing fine. The women of MPI are invited to talk to Rose, the MPI Director whenever they have problems and with that we could easily access different forms of help like medical services from the MPI clinic in Acholi quarters (Kireka). During some holidays, we visited our dad in the village.
My educational journey as well as my siblings’ has been going smoothly and success in some cases for example my sister Adong Florence just finished her S.4 with 13 aggregates. My family and I are extremely proud of her. The love and compassion MPI has extended to our family has played a great role in enabling us to face whatever we have been going through with courage because we learnt that we are not defined by our problems. One day, the MPI director during a speech at our school, Luigi Giussani High School said that “We should always find something positive amidst all the bad times that you we face. Be it a lesson or something to be grateful for”. I thought about that during the period when schools closed due to COVID-19 and it reminded me to use that time to read given the bulkiness of my combination i.e. Biology, Chemistry, and Maths (BCM). I read hard and with the encouragement from my family, our teachers who used to check on us in our different localities and the consistent calls and visits from the MPI social workers helped me excel in my Advanced level exams of 2020 with 16 out of 20 points.
My dream has always been to become a teacher and it is something I even do now on a free lance basis when students have holidays. I am however considering becoming a surgeon and hopefully improve my society by providing them with better health care services. I know saying thank you is not enough to fully appreciate all the beautiful souls that have made it possible for me to reach this mile stone, but it is the least I can do. I take this opportunity to thank God, my dear sponsor, MPI and its staff, my family, the reliable friends God gave me and my amazing teachers for doing everything within their power to help me reach my goals.