Searching for identity almost led me to suicide

Sunday February 10 2019

Mentor. Ivan Muhumuza during one of his

Mentor. Ivan Muhumuza during one of his coaching sessions with the youth. COURTESY PHOTO  

By Kelvin Atuhaire

When adolescence kicks in, young people usually tend to embark on a journey of identity. Sometimes they find themselves unsettled, afraid or alone.
And it wasn’t any different For Ivan Muhumuza. In Senior One he started looking for belonging. The urge drove him to trying out new things such as watching and selling pornography to other students, leading school strikes, disturbing student teachers and distributing alcohol at school.
“Throughout my Senior One, I had no particular purpose. Along the way, I started doing many crazy things. When I look back, I think I was looking for somewhere to belong. When I started watching pornography, I just wanted to identify with people who watch pornography,” he says.
Muhumuza, now an advocate for change among youth in Uganda, is creating several platforms for the youth to freely express themselves and discover who they are.

Turning point
Muhumuza says his life started changing gradually in Senior Two when he wanted to commit suicide.
“I felt empty and didn’t know why. I felt everything I was doing was not giving me purpose. I tried to belong everywhere, but it was not working. In my heart I wanted something but I couldn’t get it,” he says.
As he contemplated suicide, he was approached by Aggrey, a friend who had seen him struggle, who told him to try Jesus Christ. This was something Muhumuza thought would never work since he felt Jesus was a hoax.
“Aggrey had been telling me about Jesus since primary school, but I had never accepted. However, during that time I just decided to accept and gave Jesus one term to prove that He could change me.”
That third term, Muhumuza says, he grades improved and he moved from 148th to 48th in position in class. This encouraged him to continue with his fellowship with God.

Road to discovery
During his Senior Five, Muhumuza ventured into leadership and contested for house prefect for his dormitory. He lost by one vote, but he did not give up. Muhumuza moved to lead the Scripture Union.
“It is from there that I started to discover many things I knew not. When I was leading Scripture Union, I did a lot of things such as singing and during holidays, I read leadership books, talked to older people and tried to figure out how I could help the youth to be better people.”

Creating conducive environments for youth to discover their identity is a path he takes with a passion. He has led several youth fellowships in Jinja District, his home area, and Kyambogo University.
Currently, Muhumuza is a lead pastor at Worship Harvest Makerere which is flocked by many youth and he has taken on the role of a financial coach. Here he teaches the youth how to go about finances and prospering in business.

Muhumuza says his purpose in life is to help youth aged between 16 and 25 years to discover their identity, purpose and how they can walk in that direction. This has prompted him to forego his engineering career to give most of his time to mentoring youth around the country. He wants to be a facilitator of change, giving youth space to be better in life.

Dreams
Muhumuza says he hopes to venture into real estates with his youth investment club, raise 20 million disciples of Jesus in his lifetime, produce 50 music albums and create life-giving youth centres in all major universities in Africa.

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