Growing up

I grew up in such a poor family, even poor people around us called us poor!

Throughout our struggles we all did our best not to complain because we knew our parents were doing the best they could for us. We never had much to eat, we would very often only have three meals a week, let alone three meals a day. I was so undernourished people though I was HIV positive. It was tough at school because everyone avoided contact with me and calling me names like skeleton. The stigma surrounding AIDS is very real in our community, so it was very normal for anyone who was HIV positive to be shunned at all costs. I wished my life would end as I found the abuse too much.

I dreamt of becoming an engineer because I thought that if I worked with machines, I wouldn't have to put up with the abuse of human beings. I found it extremely hard to come to terms with how people in the village treated me and my family. I dropped out of secondary school in my first year because there was no money for school fees, which killed my dreams of becoming an engineer.

I thought if I put on weight people might start to like me and treat me better, so I ate everything I could lay my hands on. My idea backfired because when people saw me eating all sorts, they thought I was mad. For example, I thought if cows and goats could get fat from eating grass, so would I. But when people saw me eating grass they pushed me even further away. Strangely, however, I did start to put on a little weight.

A Golden Opportunity

I was nineteen years old when I came to Kira Farm Development Centre at the time I barely felt like a human. I used to cry, but this only made me feel even worse. Being a man in our culture meant you never showed your feelings. I was scarred by the way people had treated me, but within a few days at Kira everything began to change.

I started to experience healing from the lifetime of bullying and looked at myself differently. For the first time in my life I was in a place where I experienced love and not criticism. Kira helped me learn how to love others. The small family groups we were placed in helped us become close and work together as a team, something I really enjoyed. The more I got to know my fellow trainees, the more I appreciated that everyone at Kira had experienced as many struggles as me. Rather than avoiding people, I found myself wanting to be with people, and working together whenever I could.

Mealtimes always brought me great joy - I couldn't believe we were given so much food. I remember on my first day at Kira I only ate a quarter of what I was given. This was so I could hide the rest under some bushy plants for the next couple of days. I was convinced after being given such a large meal; we wouldn't be fed again for days. To my big surprise we had more than enough to eat every day. I never hid food again!

A Dramatic Change in my Life

My life has dramatically changed since returning from Kira Farm. I joined a church because I knew if I was to keep the fire burning in me, I needed to be around positive people. I’ve been able to share my life using the discipleship notes I was given at Kira. My main message is always about the importance of loving others. I honestly believe that if I wasnt shown love at Kira I wouldn’t be here now. The youth group I belong to goes into the community once a week to encourage the young people who have been affected by taking alcohol and drugs, and we are starting to see things change.

I have been able to do some building jobs around our village. Recently an engineer working for with a huge Chinees construction company recognised my ability and offered me a job. I am now working on one of the biggest hydro eclectic dams in the whole of East Africa called Karuma Falls. I can’t believe how well I’m getting on with my fellow workmate considering my past. I’ve been sharing the restorative approaches I leant at Kira to help with any conflicts that arise. The Strength programme run towards the end of my time at Kira helped me become the man God intend, and I am happy to say that since I joined my know job, I have seen six of my fellow workers give their lives to Christ. Local prostitutes aren’t very happy with me because a lot of my fellow workers used to frequent their services, but since I start to tell them about my changed life, business has dropped off.

I am helping my family learn about conservation farming and I’m pleased to say everyone is eating so much better. I’m buying home essentials like soap, sugar, tea, matches and salt etc. This not only makes me feel I’m living a dignified life, but my whole family is no longer the laughingstock of the village.

I can honestly say that I have a life I’m happy with, and I’m starting to dream big dreams!