By Brian Mugenyi
Gideon Kabenge is a spiritually gifted pastor. He spends weekends on several streets within Wakiso town, sharing the word of God with dwellers. Many people regard him as such overlooking the many other wonder side of him.
He is one man who has struggled to transform people’s lives in Wakiso District although most of the time he prefers to act silently.
He lives in a deep, muddy village of Nsasa, Kira municipality, Wakiso District. We caught up with him as he donated some scholastic materials and food to a family of Grace Ssebaduka, 30, who is currently in a wheel chair after sustaining a stroke seven years ago.
Ssebaduka smiles ear-to ear upon noticing Kabenge but the pain that lingers in his back cannot portray the warm welcome.
His tears of joy summarizes the whole episode of how he holds Kabenge in high regard. He hardly leaves the house due to the chronical challenges.
“I normally stay inside because it is hard for me to go outside every day. When it comes to excrete, I can as well take a week minus going for it so most of the time am inside. I don’t want to disturb my people here and when I tried sometime back my wife too left me,” Ssebaduka says.
Ssebaduka stayed in Mbarara District with his parents; Proscovia Nabulime and Fred Mulumba but when he got the stroke he was given a piece of land in Wakiso and started staying as he nurses the wounds and pain, in his wheel chair.
The house alone is dilapidated. His sister Dorothy Nakiryowa who takes care of him says getting food and other family basic needs is blatantly a phenomena.
The genesis of Ssebaduka’s illness started way back when he was still staying with his grandmother John Namunumika in Mbarara District. The sudden back pain he suffered was first taken to be witchcraft until he sought for medication. Health workers tried and later he was referred to herbal solution.
“It was one glim night when I experienced a lot of pain. The aching started from both my legs and later my body entirely felt weak,” he shares.
Much as he is still facing the same agony, Ssebaduka has realized a moment of redemption ever since Kabenge started taking care of him.
“He (Ssebaduka) is a strong man. When he felt the stroke his parents thought that maybe he was bewitched and that’s why I had to take care of him,” Kabenge says.
He heard Ssebaduka’s traumatizing story on a one local radio station, Simba FM and later connected with Conny Nalugwa who had hosted him. He was later taken to his church where he found compassion to care for him.
Kabenge, who also grew up on Kampala streets where he had no assurance of food and they used to sleep in sacks before “the Grace Church” picked him up and started taking care of him. His story is the reason for the tenacity to pick Ssebaduka and a host of other less privileged to help.
He was born in 1982 from the very ordinary family of the late Ssekajja and Joice Nanyonga
“I had no one to take care of me because my mother and father all died when we were still young. It was hard for us survive at home that’s why I resorted on streets,” Kabenge also the founder of Ararat Children Junior School and lead pastor streams of healing ministry in Uganda shared.
He recollects that the death of his father in 1989 was a huge blow for him. They suffered a lot at home and the six years he spent on streets in Kampala somehow left a trauma in his life.
“The lady (Jacklyn) who picked me up from street and later took me to Grace church was my savior. Life had become so tough for me but unfortunately, Jacklyn died,” Kabenge adds.
Kabenge married to Suzan Kabenge whom they have produced 4 children says because he needed to advance in his education since the church had paid for his primary level, he was forced to participate in casual jobs such as slashing compounds for people as well as collecting garbage on streets in order for him to raise school fees.
“I could sacrifice myself and work like a horse to earn school fees. There after things started working out,” Kabenge adds.
In 2010, Kabenge was forced to start a ministry from Kampala (Bwaise) and started adopting deprived children.
“I was on streets before. I know what it means for one to be on streets that’s why I’ve concentrated basically on looking out for such people and also to educate them,” Kabenge who started Ararat Christian Junior School that today has 152 children said.
He says building the school, Ararat that currently sits on 2 acres in Lugo village, Buwambo- Wakiso District was to eliminate the number stray children as well as giving back to the community.
“I had to agree with family and we sold our car and some piece of land that enabled us to erect such a school for those children,” Kabenge said.
“It is our vision at Ararat to build the whole person per head, heart and the body,” Kabenge adds.
This alone, has helped me to reach even to local and international pastors trying to influence them to do the same in their communities.
As for the beginning, Kabenge was looking out for 32 children whom he adopted from streets and some of them from their parents but later realized that venturing into education could as well help them.
“We normally engage the community. There parents who have the capacity to pay school fees for these kids and there are those that can’t afford,” he added.
He says these children are picked from different areas or even families that can’t sustain themselves like that of Ssebaduka.
“When you educate the child, you educate the world and the reverse is true,” Kabenge said adding that the education sector in Uganda is currently on a dead end because of the schools are now turning into a business entity.
Much as he takes care of Ssebaduka, Kabenge has also took over her daughter Peace Nakiraga and currently she studies at Ararat Christian Junior School with other pupils.
“We need to educate the young generation. I am to pay for her school fees until he finishes her education,” Kabenge added.
As an educationist, Kabenge credits King’s College in Australia for the opportunity for mentoring him about literature and the education system in the 21st century.
What others say
Bette Bonny – (Austria)
It is very hard these days to get someone who can help you materially and financially but Kabenge has been doing it for the community. I believe his compassion toward humanity will pay him back one day.
Dorothy Nakiryowa (resident, Nsasa village- Wakiso)
I’ve always dreamt of someone who can give us a hand as a family. For real, my brother Ssebaduka has suffered a lot ever since he got that stroke. We’ve been struggling to raise money to take care of him but Kabenge managed to settles our prayers by taking care of him.
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