Uganda: An elderly man receives a home from a student with whom he rode to school.

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As a sign of thanks for “showing him love,” an ex-student who lost his father at a young age has teamed with others to build two mansions for Shs350 million for an old man and lady. It was 27 years ago.

Mr Wilson Dhabangi, 73, and Ms Rebecca Mukyala, 51, are said to have played a key role in the early years of Mr Henry Mutebe, the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development’s National Programme Coordinator Workplace Learning (Apprenticeship).

Mr Dhabangi reportedly rode his bicycle to Namalemba Primary School every Sun to check on Mr Mutebe, where he sometimes took him nothing but words, pushing him to thrive in his studies.

Ms Mukyala, on the other hand, was the lady left behind by Mr Mutebe’s mother, Ms Jane Bainatunga, as she went about her work to fend for her four children, including one girl and three boys.

According to Ms Bainatunga, for the four years her son was at Namalemba Primary School, she only visited him twice, while Mr Dhabangi visited as often as he could, sometimes on days when he wasn’t sent.

“What Henry (Mutebe) would tell me was that each time Dhabangi rode him on his bicycle, he told him to read hard,” Ms Bainatunga said.

Since then, Mr Mutebe says he has been indebted to the pair, which is unrelated to him, and was only waiting for an opportune moment to reward them.

That moment, however, came in September when Mr Mutebe flew Mr Dhabangi to Nairobi for a successful eye operation to regain his sight. On board were Mr Mutebe’s mother, wife and Ms Mukyala.

“Dhabangi showed me love, rode for over three hours to visit me at school and I thought this was a kind gesture. His wish was to board a plane, so I contacted Uganda Airlines, they came on board and his maiden flight was to Nairobi,” Mr Mutebe said.

He added that after Mr Dhabangi returned from Nairobi, a fundraising drive was started to build for him and Ms Mukyala a house.

Last week the pair struggled to hold back tears when Mr Mutebe led a delegation from Uganda Airlines to their homes in Nabitovu Village, Nambale Sub-county, Iganga District, to start construction of a house for each of them.

Ms Doreen Nambatya, the Uganda Airlines acting Sales and Marketing Manager, said they decided to partner with Mr Mutebe and others to construct two houses worth Shs350m for Mr Dhabangi and Ms Mukyala after reading about “the good man who made such an impact on someone”.

“We were touched by Mr Mutebe’s story; so after Mr Dhabangi returned from Nairobi, photos of where he stayed were shared and we decided to not only stop at flying him, but giving him a new life,” Ms Nambatya said.

She added: “During his flight to Nairobi, we upgraded him from economy (class) to business and we are on board to support the campaign aimed at changing his life. Since then, many people believe that even if you don’t have a passport you can save and fly.”

On his part, Mr Dhabangi said: “I had never reached Jinja (Town) or Kampala and only dreamt of flying. I decided to ride Mutebe to school and visit him every Sunday or whenever I could because his parents were good to me.”

According to Ms Nambatya, the campaign to build a house for Mr Dhabangi and Ms Mukyala has attracted many partners, adding that so far offers have been made for solar, cement, paint and a mushroom-growing skilling project from Agromush which will benefit 2,400 residents.


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