There will always be a person in school that leaves you with good memories because of the way they treated you well.
For many people, it is a teacher but for many old boys of Mugwanya Preparatory School, Kabojja, Josephine Kakuliremu commonly known to them as Nurse Amooti is the one they will always remember. For 36 years, she has treated pupils in this school, and her work went beyond simply administering medicine; she has been a mother and a friend to many of the boys.
This was important because Kabojja is a primary boarding school and since pupils spend most of the year in school, they definitely needed a motherly figure away from home.
Kakuliremu, who we will call Nurse Amooti, since most of those who she has cared for know her as such, set foot in Kabojja in 1977. She was fresh out of nursing school.
“It was on 27 January, 1977. I had just graduated from Nsambya Training Institute where I studied nursing and midwifery. The tutor called Sister Sallie had children here but she was based in Masaka. She recommended me to the late Brother Emmanuel Kisitu,” she recounts.
However, Amooti went to Kiboga Hospital where she worked briefly; she needed more convincing which Brother Kisitu did.
“He told me school was a good place to work and I would be happy,” she recollects with her signature mother smile. And so she joined the school.
Back in 1977, Kabojja had a small pupil population since it only run up to Primary Four. From there, pupils would continue with their primary education and sit for Primary Leaving Exams (PLE) at St. Savio Junior School, located along the Kampala-Entebbe highway. Both schools are run by the Brother of Christian Instruction, a Christian educational organisation.
The first time at school
Nurse Amooti remembers first setting foot in Kabojja on a Friday, two days before the term officially opened.
“When I came here, they gave me a big house. I came on Friday and on Sunday the boys reported. It was a very interesting day, the first day. I was very young. I was 24 and very nervous,” she recalls.
She adds, “On the first day I did not know what to do. Parents were bringing in drugs to be used to treat their children. It was very hard to get a hold of these boys, especially grasping their names. I could not speak Luganda. I could only speak Rutoro and English.”
She maintained communication with the parents and pupils in English. There were about 400 pupils to take care of at the dispensary. Nurse Amooti says this was at least a manageable number compared to the current pupil population of over 1,000.
“It also helped me deal with the fear I had. There was a Doctor Sebuliba, a paediatrician who worked with Mulago but had a child here. He occasionally came around to supervise me,” she narrates.
But Amooti’s fear lay in the fact that the parents of the pupils were responsible and “people of class”.
“They were elites. They were no nonsense people, some of them were ministers, some lawyers, doctors and they were rich,” she says, with a smile.