Fifteen years ago, many in Rukungiri were holding their sides helplessly, watching one HIV/Aids patient die after another.
Even more heartbreaking was the fate awaiting the orphans. Many were herded off to already-helpless grandmothers, while others were left to wallow in poverty and ignorance.
Then Jackson Twesigye Kaguri lost his elder brother and sister to the deadly pandemic, and noted the problems his family had to deal with to educate the orphans left behind. He realized that his family’s pain must be multiplied several times over.
So, he resolved to work to end the pain in not only his family but the rest of his home area of Nyakagyezi. And thus was born Nyaka School and later Kutamba School.
With help from well-wishers, both local and international, Kaguri was able to raise money to build a school, where HIV/Aids orphans not only received a good education, but one that was freely available – as well as the attendant social support needed to make it possible for a child to grow.
Over the years, these humble primary schools posted good results in national exams and some of the graduates were able to win scholarships to study in secondary schools elsewhere. Indeed, the first alumni have made it to university.
But not all the alumni had it easy. Kaguri often had to fork out his own money, or hold fundraisers to support these post-primary students, in addition to keeping Nyaka and Kutamba schools running.
Painfully, some could not cope and had to return to their home area to eke out a living the best way they could. As all this was happening, many cried out to Kaguri to set up a similar school to cater for those who could not afford secondary school education, but had successfully come through Nyaka and Kutamba.
After much agonizing and support from well-wishers Nyaka now has a secondary school that will support those who come out of Nyaka and Kutamba primary schools.
Just for keeping these HIV/Aids orphans in school, so they can be of benefit to their country, Kaguri deserves more than a pat on the back for being one of our education heroes.