13-year-old constructs house from savings

Tuesday November 01 2016
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Hard work: Nicholas Luwuge at the entrance to his house in Kalangala. Photo by Henry Lubulwa

KALANGALA. The triumph of high achievement in life for many Ugandans is when a man or woman accomplishes the task of constructing shelter for him/herself and family.
This is why it is impressive that Nicholas Luwuge, a 13-year-old Primary Seven candidate has constructed a two-roomed house.

Located in Bugoma Trading Centre, adjacent to the Mapera tourism site in Mugoye Sub-county, the house Luwuge had constructed is one of the few permanent structures around the landing site.
“I used bricks, stones and cement. I was copying the style used by the former area chairperson Nalunga Bunjaz whose house has a firm foundation,” said Luwuge in an interview with Daily Monitor.

The 13-year-old estimates the house to have cost him a minimum of Shs4.1m although he doesn’t cost the iron sheets that were given to him freely by well-wishers within Mugoye Sub County.

“I wouldn’t wish to name them. They came silently and admired my work. Some of them are fishermen who came to make boats at the workshop where I work when I am not in class and pledged to help me,” he says.
Luwuge is set to sit for Primary Leaving Examinations at Bugoma Primary School this week. He also works as a boat maker.

He says his only source of income is boat-making which he started when he was only eight years old as he helped his mother Rodha Nakirigya to secure food and basic needs.
“I like the kind of work I do since it has helped me get some of those necessities I need, especially my school fees and clothing,” he says.

His mother Rodha Nakirigya is hopeful that her son will continue to be the light and breadwinner of the family. “He has been working since we came nine years ago to settle here. Although the journey seemed tough, my son seemed ready to persevere since he had no father to cater for his needs,” she says.

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Nicholas Luwuge makes a boat for a client. He makes 30 boats in a year. Photo by Henry Lubulwa

Interview with Rainbow Magazine

Tell us about yourself
I am Nicholas Luwuge, 13, a Primary Seven pupil at Bugoma Primary School in Kalangala District. I last saw my father when I was three years old in my home district, Kalungu. After then, my mother, brother and I shifted to Kalangala District. In Kalungu, we were so poor and did not have land to cultivate so we came here in search of a place to dig.

When did you start making boats?
Growing up, my mother used to take me to work with different people who make boats at Bugoma Landing Site. I used to help as they built the boats and eventually learnt. One day, a client came to place an order when the men were away. He asked me if I could make him a boat and I agreed. My boss found when I had got the deal. I handled it well and since then I have been making boats.

How long does it take you to make a boat?
It takes me seven days if I have all the materials. When I had just started, it used to take me longer because I was young and less experienced. I started at eight years.

Where do you get the customers and material you use?
Customers come from around the landing site. Sometimes I fail to work on their orders in time because of school and lack of the best timber. Also, some of our material is confiscated by police which makes work difficult. These make my work inefficient.

How do you balance school and making boats?
I study during the day and work in the evening and at the weekends. I also get time off to go for night lessons since my school is near home. This was the only solution for my education. My mother could hardly take care of us. Life is better since I started working.

How much is a boat and what do you use the money for?
It is Shs300,000. I make about 30 boats a year. With the money, I pay my school fees (Shs120,000) every term. I have also constructed a two-bed-room house. In my vacation, will make school fees for my secondary education.

What drove you to start constructing a house?
My mother was living in a wooden house yet I made some money. So, I decided to construct one for her.

How big is the house and how much did it take you to construct it?
It is a two bed-room-house and I spent about Shs4.6m on it.

What was the builders’ reaction when you approached them?
My mother negotiated the deal to construct the house. It took us about 14 months to finish it. Whenever I got some money, I gave it to her and we bought the building materials the builders had asked for. Until now, I give her whatever money I make to keep it for me.

Do you expect to do the same job after completing education?
No, I want to either become a teacher or doctor. I know I can make it and I will fight for it. I want to give my mother a comfortable life. She has raised me up without my father’s help so I want to take care of her too. I also want to make Bugoma a hub for carpentry, teach many of my friends how to make money and how to spend it.

About Nicholas

Name: Nicholas Luwuge
Age: 13
Parents’ names: Francis Luwuge and Rhoda Nakirigya
Best dish: Matooke, Posho and fish
Best friend: Richard Ssozi
Best teacher: Alice Nasaazi
Best subjects: Social Studies and Science

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