How To Live Bright In Spite Of Plight

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Post written by Justine Kyomuhendo.

When I was young, I admired many things that one would think out of reach for a poor child. I made wishes. I had dreams, and of course it was weird at that time. Or so I thought.

Born of a local church priest who was paralyzed when I was six years, I lived, with the rest of the family, an isolated kind of life – call it quarantined. It appeared as if we lived on an island by ourselves. Nobody seemed bothered about the plight of the eight children of this incapacitated priest.

Wonder whether we studied? Oh yes we did, but in the worst schools in the countryside. All my elder sisters and my brother dropped out before high school. That wasn’t a signal enough for anyone to care.  We didn’t matter to anybody. Magically, I persisted in school as I knew that my dreams could only be achieved with education.

You must be wondering about my performance in class? Well you have the answer; almost the worst. I remember being the second last in primary four and since I was not accountable to anyone, no one was concerned. It was at that point though that I had to think twice, and decided to engage with life more seriously. Did I have so much freedom and was I failing to utilize it? With no silver platter to feed from, I made a decision to take the adversity route, worked hard, and started changing my wishes into dreams.

It was time to join high school, and as you could imagine I did not obtain any advice on which schools were suitable. Of course my peasant old woman decided to take me to a nearby school so that I could help her after school; certainly for convenience more than anything else. I also embarked on gardening and weaving papyrus mats alongside school to raise some income to facilitate my schooling. I went to school barefoot. The alternative was luxury. I had only one Sunday dress and a pair of school uniforms.

Barefoot To Success

My results inthe Pre National examinations (Mock Exams) in year four paved my way to becoming someone of substance. Suddenly, everyone wanted to know who Justine was. I was a star in Divinity! There were mixed feelings amongst students and teachers. Did Justine really pass Divinity or were the exams leaked somehow? I began to matter, and by the end of fourth year many divinity students were my friends.

After the fourth year, I joined a new school. The Director of Studies, who also doubled as the divinity teacher, realized that I was good in his subject and suggested that I contest as a sports captain, since good performance was one of the requirements of leadership in the school. I did contest and succeeded. Students started to notice my presence in the school.

Pre national examinations for year six were here again. I wrote my History paper 3 as if I was Marie Antoinette. I loved the French Revolution. Before the results were out, the Deputy Head teacher was already asking, who Justine Kyomuhendo was. ‘That’s me’, I informed him. I mattered all the more for excelling in his subject.

One time there was a seminar in Ntare School. This is a first class boy’s school in my country where the president had studied. The selection of who would represent the school was so tight. The teacher who was selecting was given the list of the best students in Divinity and History – since the seminar was for Arts students. My name was among the first names on the list. When we reached there, the teacher didn’t look pleased when she saw me. She asked, ‘How did you come?’ I told her I was on the list. She never expected me!  She only intended to bring the smart and beautiful girls whose appearance would probably impress the boys. She didn’t like it. This disturbed me, and I actually didn’t give my best to the seminar. Somebody had frustrated my efforts, but I had to move on.

From School To University

I attended university in 1999 and had a billion challenges while pursuing my degree. I was one of those students who bothered the administration. I had my results of three years scattered across five years. Towards examination time, all the lecturers would worry in anticipation of my request for them to stand in for me to do exams on half pay.

One morning I went to the Head of Department pleading for clearance to do my papers. “There is no student who has disturbed me like Justine,” he complained as he allowed me do the exams. When the results were out I was the best student in Human Resource Management-his subject. He called and asked me why the University had never considered me for a scholarship? I didn’t know what to answer. From that time on he referred students who had problems with his subject to me. He became my friend.

Another lecturer for industrial relations promised that he would get a job for whoever performed best in his subject. I noted it. He was working with the Ministry of Labor, Gender and Social Affairs. I read tirelessly and made it with an A. Here I was. He never expected me! I tried to follow it up after campus but the promise disappeared in thin air. Yes he did not get me the job, but wherever I meet him he is proud to introduce me as his brightest student.

As I had to study, while looking for tuition at the same time, I was once recommended to the president’s office for financial support. The secretary could not believe my courage although this did not stop him from disappointing me.

I accept it is not easy for an ordinary person to have extraordinary courage, but I chose courage. I went to my Member of Parliament’s home three times to seek for a recommendation for a scholarship, and came back with new courage. His wife passed me by in the living room three times without saying hello to me. I guess I looked like a beggar in her house. I felt so bad. When I went back, I had to find out what her occupation was. She was working in one of the leading organizations in the country. ‘Lord’, I thought, ‘it may not be possible for me to get married to a member of parliament, but it is possible to work in that organization.’ I made that my prayer.

Dreams Come True

When I finished Campus, I moved through many offices looking for a job, but couldn’t find one. One morning I bought a Newspaper and my dream organization had advertised. I put in my application but they didn’t shortlist me. After one year, the organization advertised again. I put in the application. This time God worked my way. I was shortlisted, did the interviews twice and was appointed. What a faithful God I serve! I had to rest. My dream job had come.

A few months down the road, staff were on temporary deployment and the wife of the honorable was deployed at the station where I was. One day she came to me and asked whether she could do her private work from my computer. I allowed her with an intention of finding out whether she remembered me. We had a chat and she sincerely told me that we had never met before. ‘Please remind me, because for us old people we can’t remember easily. You know young people change. Probably that could be the reason I can’t remember you,’ she pleaded. Little did she know that she was reason I worked in that organization.

I know somebody out there doesn’t understand you or me. Don’t worry. Even my own father confessed on my graduation day that he didn’t understand me. Just think positively. You may think that I’m lucky, but luck only meets with a prepared mind. How prepared are you?

Need some ideas to get there?

  1. Start imagining a successful life, even when the whole world imagines you a failure. You can’t earn what you have never worked for, and you can’t be what you never thought of. So paint the picture of success.
  2. Concentrate on something and think positively. Business people call it niche. You can’t be good at everything, but you can be good at anything. For sure you will make it.
  3. Turn your wishes into dreams. Wishes never come true. Dreams come true.
  4. Have positive anger. It is constructive. Negative anger is destructive. Be angry with yourself when you fail to make it. Tell yourself, ‘I must make it at my second trial.’ Don’t quit before you try again.

Please remember, nobody is bothered with a failure. Everybody is concerned about successful persons because they want to know how they made it. They matter a lot to society. You either choose to matter or not to matter. I wish you the best!

Justine Kyomuhendo works with the Uganda Revenue Authority. Married with two children, she holds a bachelor of Business Administration from the Uganda Christian University and a postgraduate diploma in Public Administration and Management from the Uganda Management Institute. She made a choice at 6 years to be different and success is the only path she pursues. Send your comments to kyomuhendo03(at)yahoo.com

photo source: parentalcareministries.org

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