Founder Denis Kigongo Victor – My Story
I was born in 1973 to Florence Nakafu and (recently deceased) Victor Ntalo Ssalongo. I have 4 brothers and 7 Sisters.
I was born in Mukono but raised in Busu village in Iganga District by My Aunt (My Fathers sister). Life was tough. Busu village was a typical village as you see them on TV, with no piped water and no electricity and I had to walk 7 miles to school every day from the age of 6. We cooked on firewood, We fetched water from a well which was about 2 miles away and we shared it with cows and other wild life like snakes, frogs and tortoises.
My childhood was tough but fun and I believe most of my resilience was built then. We played freely and enjoyed abundant fruit which still grows wild today. The village is full of fruit and most of it just grows without anyone planting it because the soil is very fertile.
I got ill a lot. I have had malaria more than 50 times in my life but many of my cousins and childhood friends weren’t so lucky and died of these treatable illnesses. I remember several times seeing mothers in labour who ended up having babies by the roadside as they walked to the nearest hospital about 10 miles away and some kids, like my sister Annette, were born in the banana garden behind our house. At a very early age I was aware of the needs in my community and I had a dream then that if I ever got out of Busu village and got better opportunities, I would come back and help my community.
The first part of my childhood education was hard as I spent a lot of time selling fruit and other produce to raise money so I could pay my school fees and buy school necessities like books, pencils and pens. At around age 12, I got a sponsor who was a missionary in Uganda for over 30 years, a generous lady called Pat. She paid my school fees and educated me until I qualified as a secondary school teacher. 2 years after my qualification I got an invitation to the UK where I trained as a youth worker, a career I enjoyed for over 10 years. I later retrained as a therapist and that is part of the various things I do now.
My time in the UK opened many doors for me and gave me chance to meet useful people and make good friends who I then shared my story and dream with and some offered to help me.
My Father gave me part of our family land where I was meant to build my own house as is the custom in our culture, and it is on that plot, that I partitioned and built Suubi Medical Centre, starting with just a single room and then gradually adding bits to it whenever I got the means to do so.
I am humbled by my community’s relentless hard work daily, without electricity and running water and their efforts to find food, water and medical treatment to survive day to day.
The plight of people in the community where we work is overwhelming. Many children have been orphaned due to HIV/AIDS and some wander around the villages, looking for food. Children still die of the same treatable illnesses we endured, some are abandoned by their parents because they cannot afford to feed or care for them.
Until now, Suubi has been run on very little resources and we have supported limited numbers of people but I recently decided to begin the huge task of fundraising and mobilising people here in the UK and other parts of the world to help us make a difference in the community where we work.
The ‘journey’ that began many years back is a testimony of determination, hard work, self-belief and the support and encouragement of many friends in the UK and in Uganda.
Today, the Suubi Medical Centre, through our projects, supports over 25,000 people and we have had a tremendous impact on the local communities in Busu village and Iganga District.
Suubi Medical Centre is very different in its approach to the local community. We believe in empowering local people in Busu village and the communities where we work, to directly be involved in what we do that affects their own community. We only employ local Ugandans at Suubi Medical Centre; we don’t have Westerners in paid positions. The charity is very small but it is making a huge difference in Uganda.
Suubi Medical Centre is committed to long term work. Everything we do has involvement of the local people operating at a grassroots level, involving the local community in all aspects of our work to ensure that the local people have a positive, more prosperous and happy future.