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UCU Hosts Free Yellow Fever Mass Vaccination Campaign

According to Uganda National Institute of Public Health, Uganda is a yellow fever-endemic country with a high risk of transmission.

However, despite the introduction of the yellow fever vaccine in the routine immunization schedule in October 2022, the national coverage has remained low at 29%. This poses a high risk of yellow fever outbreak in Uganda

To further contribute to the efforts towards curbing spread of the yellow fever virus, Uganda Christian University (UCU) in collaboration with Uganda’s Ministry of Education and Sports and Mukono District Health Office, has organized a free yellow fever mass vaccination campaign.

The vaccination campaign that started today, Tuesday, April 2nd is expected to run until Monday, April 8th, 2024. The primary objective is to vaccinate at least 95% of the eligible population aged 1-60 years against yellow fever.

Both UCU and the neighboring communities are receiving the vaccines at the university clinic, Allan Galpin Health Center.

Kakooza Abdul Wahabu, Nursing Officer at UCU’s Allan Galpin Health Centre and in charge of the vaccinations, urges all eligible members of the community to embrace this vital vaccination campaign. “Community members should not miss the yellow fever vaccination. This is because clinicians often mistake yellow fever symptoms for those of malaria, leading to undiagnosed cases” Kakooza said. 

It is essential for individuals seeking vaccination to carry and present either a school ID or a national ID.

For more information and the vaccination schedule, individuals can visit the UCU Allan Galpin Health Centre. Let us join hands in combating yellow fever and ensuring a healthier future for everyone.

Compiled by Irene Best Nyapendi and Jimmy Siyasa

Edited By: Harriet Adong, Consultant at UCU’s Communication and Public Relations Department

UCU Students share thoughts on lent

Lent is a 40-day period of fasting for Christians, from Ash Wednesday to Easter. This year, Easter will be celebrated on March 31. Fasting is most recommended for healthy persons with elderly and very young children often exempt. The practice is frequently categorised as absolute (food and beverage), solid food (consuming only liquids) and partial (choosing one food to abstain). At Uganda Christian University (UCU), selected students have chosen to fast. Some shared their experience with Pauline Luba.

Bitungi Martha, Bachelor of Laws, final year
Bitungi Martha, Bachelor of Laws, final year

To me, fasting is a period where one gets closer to God. It’s that time when you want to revive your spiritual life, you want to give everything to your God, you want to talk to Him and you also want to listen to Him. So, I do this with my friends and it’s nice to share this belief with them. The Lent period has strengthened our bond. We take it as a time of giving and a time of listening to God. 

Rev. Mika Mugs Samuel, Bachelor of Divinity, first year.
Rev. Mika Mugs Samuel, Bachelor of Divinity, first year.

The lent season gives one a humbling experience. And with that experience, it enables one to control their desires, to enable them develop a deep devotion and relationship with God. So, it is important for people to participate in activities of lent, such as fasting and self-sacrifice. 

Egati Eric, Bachelor of Divinity, First year.
Egati Eric, Bachelor of Divinity, First year.

To me, fasting has been the norm ever since I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I fast during the lent period and ensure that I don’t do anything that could tempt me. On the health side of it, fasting has contributed to me reducing weight. The last time I weighed myself, I was told I was almost overweight, so fasting has helped keep my weight under control. 

Alinda Catherine, Bachelor of Procurement and Logistics Management
Alinda Catherine, Bachelor of Procurement and Logistics Management

The fasting period has drawn me closer to God and I’m learning to know more about myself. I think the Lent period should be taken seriously since it helps to draw people closer to Christ. It’s also an opportunity which makes people get to discover more about their spirituality and learn more about their faith. 

Natukunda Joan, Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Finance, third year
Natukunda Joan, Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Finance, third year

During the fasting period, I have been able to do more and I have also learned how to talk to God better. The thing that I found challenging about fasting while on campus is that that is the time people who are not aware that you are fasting invite you for meals. Therefore, it calls for a high level of self-control.

Sanyu Rebecca Nina, Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Finance, third year
Sanyu Rebecca Nina, Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Finance, third year

Sanyu’s Lent Experience at UCU

I have enjoyed this Lent season.  I take breaks during my fast. The fasting is somewhat challenging, given that it is happening at a time when we have classes. However, the bottom line is that fasting can help one get closer to Christ.  I would like to get closer to my Saviour. I think the university could improve on the quality of the Lent season for students by bringing up more related sessions during the community worship and sessions of prayer.

UCU

Showcasing Innovation, Creativity and Talent at UCU’s Career Exhibition Day

On Saturday, March 16, Uganda Christian University (UCU) hosted an engaging and educative Career Exhibition Day aimed at providing a platform for students, faculty, and university staff to showcase their multidisciplinary research and innovation projects. The event also served as an opportunity for students, faculty and staff to demonstrate their achievements and network with industry professionals.

Hon. Francis Katabazi Katongole, Member of Parliament for Kalungu East Constituency, graced the occasion as the Guest of Honor, highlighting the significance of such initiatives in nurturing students and fostering innovation to feed into Uganda’s development efforts.

Hon. Katabazi in his remarks, encouraged students to see beyond the anticipated salaries for true wealth. He highlighted the importance of identifying societal problems as business opportunities and encouraged starting small with innovative solutions. “Come up with an idea from the problems around you. Start it small, grow it and learn from your mistakes or failures,” Katabazi said. He also emphasized the need for proper adequate self-packaging, product packaging and the significance of having and sharing business cards for effective marketing.

featureee
The Industrial and Fine Art team presents to the Guest of Honor, Hon. Francis Katabazi Katongole, Member of Parliament for Kalungu East Constituency.

The Head of UCU Honors College, Mr. Dickson Tumuramye, shared that this is an opportunity for students to showcase their innovations, which often go unnoticed within their respective faculties and schools. Mr. Tumuramye noted that the exhibition aimed at showcasing the uniqueness, creativity, and innovativeness of UCU students in the current competitive world.

One of the highlights of the exhibition was the diverse range of projects showcased by students from various faculties.

The UCU Law students presented an app revolutionizing document drafting. What once took lawyers days to create, such as tenancy agreements, can now be accomplished in under a minute using this cutting-edge technology. This breakthrough application not only saves time but also enhances efficiency in legal practice.

Richard Mutebi, a third-year Bachelor of Science in Finance and Accounts student, who spearheads “Ink Pad Solutions,” a student-led initiative showcased their products such as student and staff planner notebooks. Recognizing time management and productivity issues among peers, the group developed a student planner to alleviate coursework deadline pressure and enhance productivity. The planner includes schedules, activity time allocations, focus targets, and reflective tasks. “With positive feedback from fellow students, we are looking forward to further iteration of our solution to incorporate and or take care of this feedback. Thereafter, we envision inclusion of this solution into the university’s admission package,” Mutebi said.

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Richard Mutebi showcasing his staff planner to a member of UCU’s staff.

The Faculty of Agricultural Sciences presented an innovative solution to food waste by utilizing it as cricket feeds and having crickets as a sustainable protein source. They also showcased various initiatives from promoting the cultivation of Nakati (a local consumable vegetable in Uganda) to showcasing innovative urban gardening techniques, to maximize crop yields in limited spaces. Additionally, alternative protein sources like crickets were exhibited, alongside sustainable farming methods such as hydroponics and solar drying technologies.

PLANT STAND
An illustration by Agriculture students showcasing urban farming techniques.

Winnie Namutosi, an assistant lecturer at the faculty of Agricultural Sciences explained that using hydroponics refers to growing crops without necessarily using soil. “We offer hydroponic nutrients available not only today but also on regular occasions at our faculty. This caters for individuals interested in planting methods that do not require them to touch the soil,” Namutosi said.

Students from Faculty of Engineering and Design showcased innovative renewable energy and material solutions. Bak Kau Nak, a third-year student from the Faculty of Engineering presented concrete bricks made from recycled paper waste, with superior strength and affordability compared to traditional concrete blocks. By repurposing discarded materials, he offers a practical solution to waste management while advancing eco-friendly construction practices.

“Our paper waste concrete blocks are cheaper and stronger,” Nak said. “We use what we do not want any more like paper waste to make the concrete blocks.”

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UCU Students from the Faculty of Engineering and Design showcase their concrete blocks.

The team from the Faculty of Industrial and Fine Art, exhibited a wide array of artworks, ranging from computer graphics like e-art (drawing using a tab and different programs on a computer) and physical art. They also exhibited sculptures, woodwork, paintings, semantics, art works for interior, animations 2D, graphics 3D, and cartoons. fashion pieces showcasing from the drafting stage to the final cloth.

Reagan Okello a finalist pursuing a Bachelor of Industrial and Fine Art exhibited soft and hard drinks glasses made from dumped bottles ready for use.

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Some of the items exhibited by art students.

Students from the School of Journalism, Media, and Communication showcased their multimedia projects, including films, short informative videos and podcasts covering sports and lifestyle.

They also presented insights into film production techniques, camera usage, and workflow. Nathaniel Simbilyabo a final-year student pursuing a bachelor of arts in Journalism and Communication showcased his photography portfolio, demonstrating the school’s commitment to nurturing versatile media professionals.

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A UCU journalism student demonstrates his podcasting technique, focusing on sports and lifestyle.

Other schools also exhibited, such as the School of Education, Social Sciences, Divinity and Theology, and the Faculty of Public Health Nursing and Midwifery.

In recognition of their outstanding work and showcase, the UCU Faculty of Engineering, Design, and Technology was recognized as the best exhibitor. All the other exhibitors were acknowledged and appreciated.

Compiled by: Irene Best Nyapendi

Edited By: Harriet Adong, Consultant at UCU’s Communication and Public Relations Department

university Vice Chancellors exchange gifts

Pictorial: UCU and St. Paul’s University, Kenya, move to strengthen and implement partnership

On March 13th through 14th, 2024, Uganda Christian University (UCU) hosted a team from St. Paul’s University (SPU), Kenya, led by Rev. Prof. James Kombo, the Vice-Chancellor. The visit was marked by warmth and excitement as both institutions shared experiences and further explored potential collaborations.

While at UCU, the visitors had an opportunity to tour UCU premises including the School of Medicine, School of Dentistry, the Archbishop’s Palace at Namirembe Hill, UCU Kampala Campus, and UCU main campus in Mukono (a few minutes away drive from Kampala – Uganda’s Capital City and central business center). It was a chance for them to learn more about UCU’s history, culture and operations.

Associate Professor Aaron Mushengyezi, UCU’s Vice Chancellor, expressed happiness at hosting the Kenyan counterparts, highlighting the similarities between the two universities. Assoc. Prof. Mushengyezi while addressing the team from SPU said “You are all warmly welcome to Uganda – the Pearl of Africa and specifically to Uganda Christian University. It is fulfilling that both UCU and SPU share similar values, teaching approaches in addition to being Christian founded and run institutions”.

“We are privileged to host you. When we share about our institutions, what we do, how we do it including the teaching approached and what we believe in all presents the institutions more like twins” Assoc. Prof. Mushengyezi added.

Rev. Prof. James Kombo, SPU’s Vice Chancellor thanked the UCU team for the warm welcome. “This was a planned trip, we were all eagerly looking forward to it. We thank God that two days ago we arrived safely in Uganda and you have all accorded us a high level warm welcome” Prof. Kombo said. He also extended and invitation to the UCU team to visit their university in Nairobi soon.

Michael Mungai, Head of Corporate Affairs at SPU, also expressed gratitude for the hospitality shown by the UCU team. He reechoed the longstanding partnership between the two universities and thanked UCU for their fellowship. “I am greatly honored to be at UCU. I feel at home and I thank God that you (UCU) are standing on the faith of Jesus Christ.”

This visit and engagement are not only geared towards strengthening the bond between UCU and SPU but also provided opportunity for potentially transformative future collaborations between the institutions while also engaging institutional partners. Both institutions look forward to working together for the betterment of service delivery and receipt in the education sector especially as we continue to contribute to community development.

Some of the focus areas for both universities

The two universities have resolved to explore and implement the partnership agreement in the following areas:

  • Cultural exchange, which involves reciprocal hosting of delegations on the campuses of the respective universities
  • Joint conference
  • Capacity-building opportunities for staff
  • Student internships, among others

Details about the previous visit: https://ucu.ac.ug/ucu-strikes-up-partnership-with-st-pauls-university/

Compiled by Irene Best Nyapendi and Jimmy Siyasa

Edited By: Harriet Adong, Consultant at UCU’s Communication and Public Relations Department

UCU

Scholarship recipients narrate struggles to keep in school

In June 2022, Uganda Christian University launched “For Just 10k,”a campaign intended to raise financial support for students who are facing economic distress. One of the organizations that responded to that call was the Ubuntu Youth Leadership Centre (UYLC).  Dr. Sabrina Kitaka, the chairperson of the board at UYLC, noted that they wanted to go beyond just contributing to school fees to supporting students through mentorship. Irene Best Nyapendi talked to some students who are recent beneficiaries of the philanthropy of UYLC.

Carolyne Anyango Ohanga
Carolyne Anyango Ohanga – Divinity and Theology

Carolyne Anyango Ohanga has always desired to be an Anglican priest. For that to happen, however, she must attain a bachelor’s degree in divinity, which she is currently pursuing at Uganda Christian University (UCU). She joined UCU after completing a diploma course at Uganda Martyrs Seminary, Namugongo, near Kampala.

Financial challenges warrant Anyango to consider it a miracle that she is still in school. Even just completing her diploma course at Uganda Martyrs Seminary was an amazing achievement. 

Anyango, a Kenyan citizen, preferred to study in Uganda, where tuition is generally less compared to her country. While a student at Uganda Martyrs Seminary, Anyango one day packed her bags ready to abandon school, because she saw no hope in securing money for tuition. 

However, she narrates that just before she left, she shared her financial challenges with the institution’s principal. And she was offered a scholarship.

Even for her first semester at UCU in 2022, Anyango faced challenges in paying the full tuition. She started studies after paying only sh200,000 ($51.22), which is about 13% of the tuition fees required for the semester.

As the examinations approached, Anyango presented her challenges to the office of the Dean of the Bishop Tucker School of Divinity and Theology, who referred her to the UCU Financial Aid Office. The office secured partial tuition. To pay the balance, she had to mobilize her friends, who contributed towards her need. But still, that was not substantial to clear the tuition balance. Anyango eventually sat the exams without clearing full tuition, but only after securing permission from the university on the promise that she would pay the fees balance later.

For the semesters that followed, Anyango would receive donations from well-wishers, including financial assistance from the UCU Guild Fund.

As she started her final semester in the course, Anyango says she had lost hope in finding any funding for her tuition. However, she discovered a call for Ubuntu Youth Leadership Centre (UYLC) scholarships, to which she applied, and was successful. 

Praise Kogere
Praise Kogere – Business

Kogere, a final-year student of Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Finance at UCU, has been raised single-handedly by her mother, a primary school teacher. 

For the times when her salary was inadequate, Kogere’s mother secured loans to pay her children’s fees. However, last year, Kogere’s mother was unable to meet the tuition obligations of her children since her loan dues had accumulated. Therefore, much of her salary went into servicing the loans and paying the debts she had accumulated. That unfortunate incident coincided with the withdrawal of Kogere’s sponsor who had been paying her tuition since Senior Five.

Kogere knew there was no money, but she still reported to school. The money she earned from her holiday job as a house-help was what she used for paying hostel dues at UCU. A scholarship from UYLC enabled Kogere to write her final-year examinations. 

Phoebe Grace Nalwadda
Phoebe Grace Nalwadda – Business

For Nalwadda, paying fees had never been a challenge for her family, until the unexpected demise of her father in 2022. Nalwadda, a final-year student of Bachelor of Procurement and Logistics Management at UCU, says she was left without the financial support she had always relied upon. 

A relative who had promised to meet her tuition obligations could not pay the fees beyond one semester. As Nalwadda was trying to figure out where to get money, a friend brought her attention to a scholarship application call by UYLC. She applied. 

“When I received a call that I had been selected for the scholarship, I shed tears of joy,” she said. “I was so surprised and when I shared the news with my mum, she was the happiest person.”

Rannie Ashaba
Rannie Ashaba
UCU student Rannie Ashaba – Business

The weight of the financial burden that Rannie Ashaba had to deal with at one point, she said, created anxiety, confusion and divided concentration in class. “Where will money come from?” was the question that consistently entered her mind. Despite all the challenges, Ashaba’s Grade Point Average has never been less than 4.3 out of 5.0.

“Early this semester, I was thinking about applying for a dead semester,” she said. However, that will not happen as she has been one of the lucky recipients of a scholarship courtesy of Ubuntu Youth Leadership Centre.

Ashaba, pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration and Accounting, said when she was five years old, her parents separated, leaving the burden of caring for her to her mother. However, tragedy struck in 2009 when her mother passed away.

In 2021, her maternal aunt took her in, pledging to cater for her academic needs, with some help from Ashaba’s grandmother. During the times they lacked, Ashaba applied for tuition top-ups and scholarships from the UCU Financial Aid office.

Last year, Ashaba’s aunt got a health complication which forced her to stop working and commence costly therapy. To date, the 27-year-old says, her aunt has not been able to pay her tuition since she is out of employment.

“I have faced obstacles to an extent that I learned to ignore some of them,” Ashaba said.

Drawing from personal experience, Ashaba urges other students facing financial challenges to share their troubles with people.

“A problem shared is a problem halved solved,” Ashaba said. “Also, keep searching for opportunities because there is always a second chance awaiting you, so don’t think about giving up.”

UCU

Congress provides hope for parents of special needs children

By Kefa Senoga
In 2018, a patient in a Ugandan hospital labor ward developed a ruptured placenta. As expected, this emergency required all the attention of the medical staff on duty. Many of the women who were in labor in the same ward could only be assisted after handling the urgent situation. 

Akut Suzan, who was among the other women in labor at that time, says when she eventually gave birth to her son, she and her son were exhausted. 

“He did not cry at all,” Akut narrated during a recent seminar at Uganda Christian University (UCU) main campus. 

Dr. Jeremy Waiswa (holding microphone) addresses the audience at the event. With him are some of the faculty.
Dr. Jeremy Waiswa (holding microphone) addresses the audience at the event. With him are some of the faculty.

“When I was discharged, he turned yellow and got jaundice. He got sepsis in the umbilical cord, and that part got paralyzed,” she recalled, adding, “By the time we returned to hospital for review, I was told the baby had already been affected, so they could not reverse his situation.”

The result is that for the rest of her life, Akut, who works as a house-help for a living, has to contend with mothering a child with cerebral palsy and other health issues.

At five years now, Ajono Daniel cannot walk by himself; his hands cannot hold anything and he has developed a conversion disorder. He is currently using a walker for movement.

At his age, Ajono would ordinarily be in his second year of a kindergarten class in Uganda. But that is not the case. He has not even started school.

Some of the special needs children who attended the event
Some of the special needs children who attended the event

Ajono and Akut were at the UCU main campus on February 16 to participate in a seminar for children with special needs, as well as their parents, and stakeholders. The two-day seminar, held under the theme “Unlocking the Potential Towards Inclusive and Equitable Education for Children with Special Educational Needs in Uganda,” started on February 15.

Akut, a resident of Makindye, a suburb of Kampala, says she has sought, without success, admission for her son in many of the schools that do not offer specialized care for children with special needs. The few that agreed to admit him, she said, increased the tuition fees, with the justification that Ajono needs specialized care. In addition, they asked Akut to hire a special caregiver for her son while at school.  

Amidst all these challenges, Akut remains positive. Her husband and the father of Ajono has not abandoned the two. He has endeavored to provide the little that he gets to support his son, in addition to showing him “unconditional love.” 

“He is not ashamed to carry him, even in public,” she says.

Special needs children perform in Nkoyoyo Hall at the event.
Special needs children perform in Nkoyoyo Hall at the event.

Information at the UCU seminar further reminded Akut that she isn’t alone.

At the dialogue, which took place on the first day of the event, the primary discussion centered on inclusive education, aiming to spark potential actions or policy interventions for the betterment of children with special needs.

The second day of the event was focused on fostering interaction with special needs children, along with their parents and teachers. The objective was to gain insights into their challenges and to advocate support. Akut said by attending the congress, she was able to share with parents who are facing the same dilemma.

When at home “you may think that the situation of your child is the worst, yet there are people out there in worse situations,” Akut said at the congress organized in collaboration between the UCU School of Social Sciences and Promise International, a US-based not-for-profit organization dedicated to empowering and educating children with special needs and their families in Uganda.

Some children with special needs prepare to perform at the event.
Some children with special needs prepare to perform at the event.

Representatives from the government, the academia, the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), among others, took part in the congress. Uganda’s minister in charge of disability affairs, Hellen Grace Asamo, was among the special guests.

Sarah Bugoosi, the Commissioner for Special Needs in Uganda, urged parents to embrace and support their children with special needs, and not to listen to negative public opinion about their children.

Dr. Jeremy Waiswa, the coordinator of the partnership between UCU and Promise International, said they fronted the partnership, so that UCU, given its strong foundation on Christian principles, can make a difference in the lives of children with special needs. 

Waiswa said they took advantage of the congress to organize a medical camp for the children. The UCU School of Medicine provided 12 medical students who assisted the medical workers from the university’s Allan Galpin Medical Center to run the medical camp.

RURAL

Rural Uganda women defy odds to create a livelihood for families

By Kefa Senoga
Achito Loyce is not someone who prides in being defined by her past. She does not want challenges to define her. And that is precisely the reason she has defied all odds to transform not just her life, but that of her children, as well as siblings. 

From an early age, Achito, a resident of Soroti in northeastern Uganda, shouldered the responsibility of caring for her seven siblings. Following the passing on of her father and her mother’s ailing health, Achito became both the breadwinner and a mother figure for her family. In fact, her clan members forbade her from marrying because there was no one to take over the responsibility of looking after her family members. 

Achito Loyce says her restaurant has not only transformed her life, but also for those who depend on her.
Achito Loyce says her restaurant has not only transformed her life, but also for those who depend on her.

Achito and her seven siblings were being raised on land their mother’s family had given their father. However, upon the passing on of their father, Achito says her maternal relatives had a change of heart on the land – they sent them off, reasoning that the children were supposed to return to their paternal relatives. And they neither knew the paternal relatives nor where they lived. 

After many months of wandering, Achito and her siblings finally settled on land donated to them by a Good Samaritan. The family knew full well that the odds were stacked against them. For that, they engaged in casual work for willing members of the community, in order to eke a living. 

The family members saved some money, which they used to set up a restaurant in Tuburi Town Council, Soroti district. Achito says the restaurant has not only transformed her life, but also for those who depend on her. She has been able to meet the needs of her family, including educating her four sons. The boys are now grown children, and each of them is living in their independent homes. From the restaurant, she has also been able to save money and build a permanent house.

Five kilometers away from the home of Achito is Anayo Mary, a widow. Anayo was living with her husband in Adjumani, northwestern part of Uganda. However, upon his death, she says she faced economic hardships that made it almost impossible for her to take care of her four children. She gave in and returned to her parents in Soroti.

Anayo Mary with some of the chairs she rents out to people organizing parties
Anayo Mary with some of the chairs she rents out to people organizing parties

Currently, Anayo runs small businesses, which she complements with farming. She is actively involved in livestock farming. Additionally, she engages in the sale of agricultural produce, such as millet, tomatoes, wheat and soya. She also owns 100 plastic chairs, which she rents out to people who have parties in the community. 

The solid business acumen of Anayo and Achito are not by accident. The two have undergone training in running businesses, including basics of how to save money, book keeping and accounting, customer care and record keeping.  

Destiny Community Development Initiative (DECODI) is one of the organizations that have held the hands of Anayo and Achito, and shown them how to keep afloat in the world of business. 

Elotu Mercy, an alum of Uganda Christian University, who is the head of business and investment at DECODI, notes that many of their beneficiaries, just like Anayo and Achito, have been able to improve their livelihood using interventions, such as those provided by DECODI. 

The organization mobilizes and applies its resources, leverages its networks, and avails its expertise to engage with, and

Amoding Sarah at her produce store.
Amoding Sarah at her produce store.

directly meet the psychological, economic and social basic needs of vulnerable women and their homesteads, focusing on single mothers in northeastern Uganda.

It is not easy for one to do proper bookkeeping when they are illiterate. Therefore, DECODI runs programs on adult learning to equip its beneficiaries with literacy skills that can enable them to successfully run their businesses. Both Achito and Anayo are graduates of the organization’s literacy classes.

One of the current learners in the adult education program, Amoding Sarah, says they have learned about keeping proper sanitation at home. She says one of the reasons for joining the program was because she wanted to learn how to keep proper hygiene in her home.  

“I have been able to learn about a balanced diet and now I am able to feed my family well and nutritiously,” Amoding says.

Micheal Eberu, an official at DECODI, said although their target is women, they also include men in their programs, reasoning that in many communities, when women get more economically empowered than the men, it can create domestic violence.  On many occasions, men can sabotage women’s projects because they feel marginalized. As Eberu elaborates, they often implore the men to work with the women.

UCU

Solar lamp gifts transform lives of UCU students

By Irene Best Nyapendi
Whenever there is a power blackout in Mukono town, it affects the hostel where Diana Nakiyemba lives. As a result, the only option the fourth-year student of Bachelor of Laws at Uganda Christian University (UCU) had was traveling back to the main campus, so she can access electricity light to read her books.

Diana Nakiyemba poses with her solar lamp.
Diana Nakiyemba poses with her solar lamp.

And she would not be alone. Nakiyemba, whose hostel of residence is hundreds of meters away from the university, says she often returned to the campus to get light for reading with a group of friends. There were days they would stay on campus up to midnight, reading. Some of such evenings were those the night before they wrote exams.

However, it is now safe to say such scenarios are a thing of the past for many at UCU. Nakiyemba and a group of other UCU community members are recent recipients of solar lamps donated to them by Brian Kluth, an American missionary. Kluth, a Christian speaker and writer, was at UCU as a guest preacher during the university’s Mission Week in mid-February. 

The Mission Week is dedicated to spreading the message of Christ both on and off campus. Spearheaded by the UCU chaplaincy, the Week is intended to foster spiritual growth and community outreach through a series of impactful initiatives.

Rev. Brian Kluth with recipients of the solar lamps
Rev. Brian Kluth with recipients of the solar lamps

One of the highlights of the Mission Week was the “Share the Light” event, where Kluth donated solar-powered lamps to more than 600 people who attended his talk. Kluth, known for his teachings on faith, delivered a sermon on the importance of generosity in Christian living. 

Kluth said he was able to distribute the solar lamps after an unexpected encounter with a generous donor, who entrusted him with $40,000, which he was asked to use to bless others.

“Many people are hesitant to give because they fail to recognize the blessings that come from generosity,” Kluth said during his sermon.

The congregation during one of the services during the Mission Week
The congregation during one of the services during the Mission Week

For the solar-powered lamp that Nakiyemba received, she is already reaping the benefits: Recently, she overcame her hostel power blackout to finish a class presentation. She turned to her newfound lifeline, the solar lamp, which she used as light to help her get her assignment  ready.

“For as long as we have the lamps, I doubt we shall ever stay on campus till late in the night again,” she said.

Nathanael Simbilyabo, a final-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Journalism, Media and Communication at UCU, said he had never imagined the challenges that awaited him when he started staying in a private hostel outside the university. Simbilyabo had previously been living in a university hostel, which had access to a standby generator, to provide power whenever there was a blackout.

“Living without light is hard,” Simbilyabo said, adding: “This solar lamp has helped me, especially now that I’m writing my research dissertation.”

Some of the missioners who preached the gospel during mission week
Some of the missioners who preached the gospel during mission week

Victoria Nantambi, a final-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Nursing Science at UCU, says she cherishes reading late in the night. And that cannot be supported by the unpredictable electricity power supply. So, whenever there was a power blackout, she would just abandon reading and go to bed. However, that is not happening anymore as she now takes advantage of the light from the solar-powered lamps whenever there is a blackout in her hostel.

The Rev. Henry Majwala, the Assistant Chaplain at UCU, explained that the intention of the Mission Week is to guide new students in their journey with Christ while providing opportunities for spiritual renewal and discipleship.

“Mission Week is about making Christ known, nurturing spiritual growth, and serving the community,” Majwala said. 

Central to this semester’s theme of “Living by Faith,” derived from Habakkuk 2:4 were sermons on the role of faith in personal growth, financial stewardship and servant leadership.

UCU

Young entrepreneurs showcase products at business expo

By Kefa Senoga
The first student-organized business expo at the Uganda Christian University (UCU) School of Business (SoB) was held at the university’s main campus from February 9-10. 

Sekiziyivu Denison, president of the UCU School of Business Society, said the event was intended to promote student commerce, as well as expose them to legal ways of running a business. To participate in the expo, each exhibitor was charged sh20,000 (about $5.1), while alumni paid sh50,000 (about $13). The expo attracted about 80 businesses. 

Angella Kongai, an official from Uganda Revenue Authority — the country’s taxman, said her entity’s role at the exhibition was to create tax awareness. 

“We were told that many students with such businesses are not aware of what happens after setting up a business,” Kongai said. “We have educated them on how to register their businesses, that’s why we came with some literature like the taxation handbook.” 

She said they also explained to the exhibitors how to compute the amount of tax they are supposed to pay based on their businesses.

Some participants shared (below) their experience.

Miiro Joseph, Bachelor of Science in Information Technology

Using the knowledge and skills I acquired in class, I set up Shelby Gamers, a gaming technology company. Today, I am here to showcase various gaming technologies, including virtual reality and gaming consoles, such as PlayStations, featuring popular games like Mortal Kombat and FIFA soccer.

Many people have had the opportunity to visit our stall and experience augmented reality and virtual reality. Although I have made some money at the exhibition, my primary goal was to market our business. We are the only company in Mukono operating virtual reality games, so we wanted to let people know that we exist.

This business has greatly supported me in terms of income for upkeep at university. I use that money for meals and other basic needs while at campus. Upon realizing the benefits of this business, I started on a journey of training some youth in the community on technology so that they can also empower themselves. 

We intend to introduce an app which people can use to request for boda boda services, such as delivery of food, parcels and for transport. 

Tumwesigwa Emma at his stall
Tumwesigwa Emma at his stall

Tumwesigwa Emma, Bachelor of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering

I am here to sell Happi bathing oil and soap. The body jelly is our latest product on the market. We launched this project a year ago, as a group of four friends. All of us are students of UCU, pursuing Bachelor of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering. The main ingredients of the 100% natural oil are sunflower and honey. We make the products ourselves and then distribute them to supermarkets and retailers. We use social media platforms to reach different potential customers.

Inventors of the students and staff planner team

The stall selling the student planner
The stall selling the student planner

As a group of students from the Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Finance, we are offering a planner for students and staff of the university. We started this project as an entrepreneurship assignment from the business school incubation hub. When we excelled in the project, we actualized the idea. Our current objective is to scale up the production. We are optimistic that the product will be well received by the UCU community.

We pooled resources from our savings to start this business after we got the branding guidelines from the UCU communications and marketing office.

We came up with this idea because we thought it’s important for staff and students to plan their days. Sometimes they forget their assignments, so we wanted to have something that can remind them about that. The planner, which costs sh20,000 (about $5.1), covers the entire semester. More than 50 students bought copies of the planner from our stall. 

Arobu Chelsea sells groundnuts in wine bottles
Arobu Chelsea sells groundnuts in wine bottles

Arobu Elsie, Bachelor of Science in Economics and Statistics

In order to put what I learned in class into practice, I started a business of selling roast ground nuts, which didn’t require a lot of capital.

Some of the ground nuts are flavored with chili. I do not put any oil or salt in the ground nuts, in order to serve even those who, for health reasons, do not take them.

Josephine Mareete, lecturer, Department of Art and Design

Josephine Mareete at the stall selling student art pieces
Josephine Mareete at the stall selling student art pieces

We are here to showcase some of the creative works of our students, such as fabric work, woodwork, ceramics and paintings. Our primary goal of participating in this exhibition is to promote and market the offerings of our department. 

We have actively sought feedback to identify areas for improvement, especially concerning marketing strategies and price ranges of our products. The products available for display are pieces for coursework completed by. For instance, some ceramic pieces are at sh5,000 (about $1.3); art pieces at sh10,000 (about $2.54) and woodwork ranges from sh50,000 (about $13) to sh100,000 (about $25.4).

UCU

UCU Fitness Club empowers minds, bodies, spirits

By Bena Nekesa
In the heart of Uganda Christian University (UCU), amidst the bustling academic endeavors and vibrant Mukono campus life, the UCU Fitness Club emerged. 

The club visionary is Charles Miti, age 31, a student working toward a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Finance, School of Business. While he struggled with a weight of 94 kilograms (207 pounds), he knew that body image was more than physical fitness. He envisioned a journey of holistic transformation that encompasses mental resilience and spiritual growth not just for himself but others. Since its inception a year ago, the club has become a cornerstone of support and empowerment for its members, touching the lives of students in profound ways.

UCU Fitness Club participant, Joseph Kyeswa, warming up
UCU Fitness Club participant, Joseph Kyeswa, warming up

The story of the UCU Fitness Club began when Charles engaged in a walk of 78.4 kilometers (48.7 miles) from Kampala to Jinja during the throes of the Covid-19 pandemic. The journey garnered others’ attention on social media platforms and further ignited a passion for health and fitness within Charles.

“I was inspired to create a space where others could embark on their own transformative voyages,” he said. “Walking is at the center of what we do, but it’s so much more. Fitness is medicine and is everything. Once you choose the road of fitness, you are cured physically, mentally and spiritually.”

With the support of like-minded individuals such as Edonu Emmanuel, a UCU School of Law student, the club took root, fostering a sense of unity and camaraderie among its members. Charles’s  brother, a medical doctor, Joseph Ssebanenya, played crucial roles in the club’s inception. At the 2024 program launch in February, the brother provided insights about health and fitness. Additionally, Charles’s family, including two sisters and their parents, who are retired  farmers, formed a supportive foundation for his endeavors.

Through activities like hiking, swimming, and other physical challenges, the club members forged bonds that transcended mere acquaintanceship, evolving into a tight-knit community.

Three UCU Fitness Club runners
Three UCU Fitness Club runners

The American Medical Association reports exercise as a top contributor to a healthy and longer life. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the World Health Organization (WHO), regular exercise not only extends lifespan by up to 10 years, but also promotes overall health, reduces the risk of chronic diseases and enhanced cognitive function, leading to improved productivity and quality of life.

For Charles and the 50 other participants, the club represents more than just physical activity; it is a sanctuary of happiness and personal growth. Rejecting the allure of vices like clubbing and substance abuse, Charles and others have found fulfillment in the pursuit of holistic wellness. 

“Through prayer, fellowship, and shared experiences, our members discovered the transformative power of nurturing both body and spirit,” he said. 

The journey of the UCU Fitness Club has not been without its obstacles. From mobilizing members to overcoming usual college temptations of parties and societal misconceptions about fitness, the club faced its fair share of challenges. 

Club founder, Charles Miti
Club founder, Charles Miti

Contrary to perceptions, the pursuit of fitness did not detract from academic pursuits; rather, it complimented them. Members found that physical activity enhanced their cognitive abilities and provided a welcome respite from the rigors of academic life. Discussions during club activities often led to insights that translated into academic success, demonstrating the symbiotic relationship between physical and mental wellness.

As the club gained momentum, it became a beacon of hope. Through support and encouragement, individuals struggling with issues ranging from self-esteem to addiction found solace and strength within the club’s embrace.

“Through collective efforts, we have created a supportive community where individuals thrived, not just academically, but also emotionally and spiritually,” Charles, now weighing 74 kgs (163 lbs.), reflected. 

As Charles looks towards the future, he knows that the club’s journey is far from over. With each new member welcomed and each new challenge overcome, the legacy of the UCU Fitness Club should continue to thrive, empowering more minds, bodies, and spirits.

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