To teach is to touch people’s lives, but being able to touch souls is what Dr Alice Mwesigwa believes to be a true calling and for being able to do this, she is thankful to God.
The lecturer at Mbarara University of Science and Technology and Bishop Stuart University will admit three facts, “Yes I am a lecturer, I am paid, I love teaching”. However, what stands out for her as an educationist is that there is much more that these children and students need beyond lecturers.
“My first lectures and meeting young people is a striking a balance to win their confidence to see me as a mother. I try to come down to their level and always start with a lot of counselling, guidance to build trust,” she says.
She adds: “Today’s young generation faces a lot of challenges in relationships, broken families and domestic violence and drugs. But worse of all this comes at a time when most parents have neglected their roles and entrusted it to schools and institutions.”
Mother and counsellor
A PhD holder in Education Administration and Planning from Dar es salaam University, Dr Mwesigwa has taught in Kibubura Girls, Ntare School and Uganda Christian University-UCU. She got her first Degree in Education from Makerere University and Diploma in Education –ITEK Kyambogo then a Master’s in Education management and Planning from Leeds University.
Despite being in the profession for 26 years, Dr Mwesigwa sees herself more as a mother and counsellor and will quickly let you know that it is through these that she has been able to have an impact on youth.
“I do more of counselling than teaching. When I get out of lecturers, I find students have swarmed my vehicle, I can receive phone calls as late as past midnight, SMs, Whatsapp from students who need help and guidance. I even have a counselling room at my home,” says Dr Mwesigwa.
Seeing the number of youth that she has impacted positively in life leaves a big mark in her life. It is no wonder that she strongly believes in humbling herself before young people.
Dr Mwesigwa ensures that she also visits other areas to counsel youth. For instance, she has been to Sebei and Lango dioceses and done outreach ministries in many schools in the central region.
Her desire also comes from her own experience, growing up with parents who often counselled the children. “I tried my best to see I never disappointed them and that is what I want other children to live up to. I know what parents expect of their children and seeing what is happening today, girls walking naked, boys eaten by drugs, inside me I said I have a role to pray to save this young generation,” she says, adding, “Also knowing Christ and making Him known through his love for humanity, irrespective of who we are and our background motivated me into this calling,” she says.
Dr Mwesigwa has earned herself the name Maama Alice. “And this is not because I’m a bishop’s wife, but because they see a mother in me,” she chuckles.
The 49-year-old is married to Ankole Diocese Bishop, Rt Rev Fred Sheldon Mwesigwa. Her nurturing roles are simply amplified by her status as she engages with the folk and has taken on church leadership duties in different capacities.
Pre marital counselling
Dr Mwesigwa is chairperson of the Literature Committee of Mothers Union province of COU and during her tenure and leadership, a handbook for preparing young men and women for marriage was published.
Different eminent Christian contributors across the COU province wrote about different topics of concern to brides and bridegrooms to be such as courtship from Christian perspective, how to handle sexual pressures before marriage and sexual enjoyment in holy matrimony. Others are transparency in money matters, changed attitude and wedding expenses.
“I have responsibilities that include Mothers Union (president Ankole Diocese), Mothers Union (president western region), Mothers Union (vice president Church of Uganda province), chairperson (publications and communication committee at Church of Uganda province), member of the church of Uganda Provincial assembly and Provincial assembly standing committee member,” she explains.
A congregant, especially in the western Uganda, where she is based, will often see Dr Mwesigwa taking to the pulpit to encourage believers, especially women and youth in faith and life-related matters.
Unity in family is one of the things she has become a soldier for. She stresses that with unstable homes, the future of our children and the country is ruined thus she has put energies in seeing and uniting unstable families and mending broken marriages.
“As a Mother’s Union leader, I am also engaged in mediating and counselling families. I have seen families threatened with divorce and domestic violence get stable. I have also worked towards income generation of families. I have traversed many families sensitising, especially women to start income generating projects to supplement their families,” she says.
To empower women, she started a saving scheme for women in the diocese under Ankole Diocese Women Investment Association. She strives to unite women irrespective of their background and religious affiliation through different activities.
She is expected to lead the Women Day Prayer at Kakyeka Stadium today. She plans to set up a youth training project targeting children on holiday and in vacation to give them skills.
The mother of four has also initiated a Mother’s Union Shs6billion complex to house the youth ministry, counselling rooms and women’s ministry.
What others say...
“She has been key in building stable families in the diocese through outreaches, seminars, counselling, looking after children and economic empowerment. She is a devoted woman of God, also a great preacher. Her motherly love has redeemed many lost souls,”
Rev Can. Herbert Begumanya, Ankole diocese Dean
“I have known Alice for more than 10 years as a teacher and wife of a priest when the husband had not been ordained a bishop. She is passionate about women and children issues, especially on income generation and morality. Despite being very educated, she is simple, gentle and down to earth,” Dr Medard Bitekyerezo, former Mbarara Municipality MP
Tomorrow, we feature Jamila Mayanja, a YALI fellow founder of Smart Girl Foundation and J Mobile Laundry Service