Anawim Uganda | The Poor Ones of God
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anawim uganda | inspirations


By: Rev. Dr. Josef Buchana Kisoga

(Posted on: 11/23/2009 7:37:41 PM)

Once upon a time there was a small boy who came from a poor background. He started school at the age of five years and used to walk 15 kilometers a day, that is, to and from school, not counting the around five kilometers that he would run around at school. Like other pupils (only that some of them had some other resources), he had access to the minimum nourishment of a cup of porridge at around 10.00 am, which implied that by the time he went back home at 4.30 pm (the journey of 7.5 km) he was terribly hungry on addition to the tiredness. Due to the determination of his father to see him through, coupled with the boy’s own determination to see meaning accrue to his sufferings, the small boy passed his Primary Living Examinations with a first grade and went to the best school in the area. While there, the story of poverty was the same, only it was aggravated by the presence of those boys who came from well-to-do families and so had everything they needed. The boy, even though he always admired those boys who were materially superior to him, yet he tried to keep the purpose of his going to school abreast with him. He passed the Uganda Certificate of Education examinations and went on to higher secondary education. But in the meantime some ailment had assailed his father, significantly lessening his capacity to do even the minimum he had been affording for the boy’s education. In the end the man died and the boy was left on the rocks. He had practically no mattress save the one-inch one he had used from senior one and by now it was as thin as a blanket, the same to the blanket, which was by now full of holes – and no bed sheets, of course –, and he was an advanced level boy! So, he used to fold the so-called blanket in two by the length, which then became shorter than the width and so the latter became the new length. Still, in order to feel covered, he would sleep with his legs folded to the extent that the knees would almost make physical contact with the chin. He had no clothes either except one pair of trousers (colour of school uniform) with two very big holes behind and a long white shirt (school uniform again). Since the latter was long, it would shield off the holes from being seen. Are we even going to talk of shoes? He was lucky to have a pair of bathroom slippers which served all the foot purposes. This was not all. He developed ill health that ordinarily should have meant the end of this young man’s education journey. He was sick practically every week, no care, no necessities, almost no hope. For this he went back home and lost a year of study. Being the eagle at determination and perseverance that he was, he went back to school. By then the body had become a permanent abode for illness, a state that, henceforth, characterized his being.

The moral of this experience being narrated is the unbeatable determination of this boy to succeed amidst such hopelessness for so long. In such a case you cannot even say that he believed in himself, no; or that he saw opportunities around him, no; yet, somehow, he believed that one day a light would show at the end of the tunnel to make the ending a happy one. This looked like exaggerated hope.

By now you must be anxious to come to the end to see what came of this ‘whimsical’ hope. It would seem that the boy had a secret that nobody would ever manage to fathom. After senior six, with his very staggering health, he felt that God was calling him to be a priest. He advanced his feeling to the authorities who gave him a lee way. After the probation he was given because he had not been in a minor seminary, he was sent on for philosophy for three years. While there, every month he was down with illness. And yet he completed the three years – and completed them well in terms of passing. Some staff members felt that he was too sickly to be useful to the Church as a priest and they wanted him to return to his mother. However, it was finally agreed that he be given a chance to continue while he would be monitored. He went on to the field for a pastoral experience of one year, whereby after only three months he was attacked by a very severe backache which put him down for an entire month. I guess he still lives with it. He was admitted a number of times on account of other ailments as well, including frequent malaria. The superiors he was staying with felt the bodily weakness was too much to allow the man to continue. Yet, even though with a lot of hesitation, he was eventually allowed by all those concerned to go on for theology for another three years. While there, the frequency of his falling sick doubled, that is, every two weeks! Had the end finally come? Could this be endured by a mortal? Yet, to the amazement of those who had been following his journey closely, he did not show any signs that he was letting go. He must have discovered long in his life that endurance was stretchable, especially if it was attached to a purpose. He did endure to the end and, if I remember well, was ordained a Catholic priest on 1st August 1992. What an accomplishment in such circumstances!

This man – of course, he is now a man –, has had satellite/auxiliary achievements as well. He has so amassed academic papers that one would be right to doubt the credibility of this story. Besides the Diplomas in Philosophy and Humanities and Theology and Pastoral Studies, he has two Bachelors Degrees, one in Philosophy and the other in Theology, an MA in Theology, an MA in Development Studies, and a PhD in Theology. And I understand that for him death is the limit because he says that he still has two PhDs to accomplish; his goal is to become one of the most learned men in Africa – if not on the globe! All this within the context of such disabling health coupled with excruciating poverty. He is now not as poor as before (of course), but is still sickly, probably with more ailments now than before, yet he acts normal. In fact, if he does not tell you that he is in pain you cannot even guess, but actually he suffers main pains every single second of his life. And yet, whenever he is up, he works so hard that those who live with him call him ‘crazy’, strange’, an ‘enigma’! He is such a challenge to those who indulge in self-pity, those who have good health but do not want to work, and those who think that because they have some problems that is permission to allow their future to be ruined.

We should probably take this story as a testimony: something that appeals for belief in it. And I really emphasize that we try to take everything in here as being true (in fact a lot of details have been left out) because I know what I am saying, given that I know this person very well, probably better than anyone else. For, this person is the very writer of this article! What situation can you be in that could possibly compare with this one? And so, if you will not take inspiration, challenge and motivation for this one, well, simply sit down, relax, and wait for heaven. And you can also end your reading right here. Amen?