When Eria Sekayombya, a visually impaired 22-year-old refers to his younger brother Charles Ssendi as his mother, father and guardian – all wrapped in one, the statement is ambiguous at first thought.
I’m aware the two boys are orphans but it takes the intervention of Sekayombya himself, with an explanation, for his remark to be clear; “Mum neither showed us our relatives nor our ancestral village.
We do not know our “people” and their whereabouts. We are abandoned on this Island – Gayaza - Buwaya on Lake Victoria. When she died, I was only left with my young brother. He is the one taking care of me.”
As he relays more about the desire to meet his relatives, Sekayombya’s tone loses its sharpness. It becomes low and sad. Using his fingers, he swiftly wipes away tears that have started falling from his moist eyes.
His 18-year-old brother, who is silent all this while, steadily stares at the writer like he would pay an arm and a leg if he could get them round their plight.
Both are seated on a rickety and “tired” three by six feet bed which they inherited from their deceased mum. It squeaks after any movement. Clean but old utensils sit at the foot of it.
Their current home is a small one-room affair. The floor is not cemented and the walls are made of bricks that are not plastered. The two boys have been living in it since last February.
They are not sure they will be around by the end of the year.
“Sometimes we fail to raise the Shs10,000 for rent. We have defaulted for some months. But the landlord is at times lenient,” says Sekayombya, as he randomly plants his hand on my knee presumably to establish how far I’m seated from him.
However, even if Sekayombya’s prayer to be reunited with his relatives was answered, the 22- year-old would never see them. He would only touch them, feel them, hear their voices and note their odour. He is blind.
How they got where they are
According to the residents of Gayaza- Buwaya Island, the boys’ mother Betty Nakyazze arrived on the Island around 2001. They say it is typical for people to come to the Island, from everywhere, to earn from fishing and selling fish. Nakyazze was among this lot.
She pitched camp at a place called Luwangala. Sekayombya was nine years old, at the time. He recalls, hazily, that they arrived at the Island after his dad’s death. “Our father’s name was Matiya.
He had been sick for a long time. We were living in Wakiso, then. There was a man called Ssalongo who used to visit dad. We had some neighbours. Brian, one of their children was a good friend of mine,” he narrates.
Their new home on the Island had been offered to their mother by a Good Samaritan. Sekayombya says, the house was in the middle of a graveyard, and people occasionally came by to bury their loved ones. Their mother sold dry fish to earn a living.
“Around 2007, our mother sat us down and informed us that she was our father and mother,” he says adding: “As young boys we could not ponder about that.
However, we had never had a relative visiting us. Mum had never introduced anyone to us as a relative. Still, at that age, it was not something worth worrying about.