University sweethearts still going strong

Joel and Ann Opio have been married for 11 years and have three children. PHOTOs/courtesy

What you need to know:

There remains a small percentage of people that look back to their campus days with joy because these birthed marriages they hold dear to date

It is no secret that most relationships that start at university usually do not last. At this time, the focus for most is on having fun and enjoying their newly found freedom. Many put off dating and for those who do, it is not for the long term. However, there remains a small percentage of people that look back to their campus days with joy because these birthed marriages they hold dear to date.

Joel and Ann Opio

Joel Gabriel Opio was a guild minister while Ann N Opio was a worship leader during their time at Uganda Christian University, Mukono. Joel was pursuing Development Studies and Ann, Social Work and Social Administration. The two often met, especially during fellowship. Joel says although he had fallen in love with Ann, he took time learning her personality.

“I was looking for a God-fearing woman who would become my wife and a mother to my children. When I saw these qualities in her, I decided to ask her out on a date,” Joel shares.

However, Ann’s mind was far from anything to do with a relationship but when Joel asked her out on a date, she accepted since this was the only way she would get to know him better.

“He had all the qualities I wanted in a man. I gave it a chance, and I am grateful I did,” she says, adding that their unifying factor was the fact that they both loved serving God.

It was a plus that Ann was beautiful, loving, caring, elegant and humble, a fact Joel made known on their first date.

“I wanted her to be the mother of my children because her beauty was magnetic and her natural hair and big eyes are to die for. She had and still has the perfect figure,” Joel says.

With time, Ann fell in love with Joel’s outstanding ability in leadership and kindness. He was also a man of his word.

“When he asked me to be his ‘girl’, he meant every word,” she says. Most importantly, he was patient enough to wait for her, never engaging in any sexual acts until they said, “I do” on the December 4, 2010.

Being public figures, they had their fair share of dealing with attention but depended on God to keep them together. Their resolve was also tested when Joel, who was two years ahead of Ann graduated. Being in a long distance relationship strengthened their trust, and patience as they had to invest time and money to meet and ensure continuity of their relationship.

“Above all, we kept our friendship and future in prayer and God answered us. So, here we are, 11 years in marriage and still great friends and lovers,” the couple shares.

They are blessed with three children (two girls and a boy).

Lydia and Joel credit  the success of their marriage to God.

Joel and Lydia Mbabazi

Joel Mbabazi was at Makerere University undertaking a bachelor’s in Agricultural Engineering while Lydia was in the Agri-business Management class. However, the two had met prior at a Scripture Union Conference at Busoga College Mwiri in 2008. Then, Joel was in his Senior Six vacation and had come as a facilitator while Lydia was still in her Senior Five.

Because he would always find Lydia seated by herself, Joel made it a point to have a conversation with her.  “Although we had a few days at the conference, I wanted to use this time to get to know her better and this was the beginning of our friendship that has lasted to-date,” he says.

The two would later meet again at university and because they were friends, they spent a lot of time together. As a friend, Joel says, you cannot demand for special attention but he often looked out for when Lydia was free and able to talk so they could catch up. He also occasionally visited her at her hostel.  The game-changer was when Lydia accepted to be Joel’s date for his finalist’s dinner.

“I decided to pursue her more intentionally looking forward to marriage. I asked her to be my girlfriend and was pleased when she accepted,” Joel says.

Joel and Lydia got married in 2018 and together they have two sons; Mathew and Micah. They say it is God who has sustained them this far.

Joel and Berus found love through a discussion group.

Berus and Joel Musinguzi

At the entrance of the Makerere University library, Joel saw Berus who was in the company of her friends. Although they did not say a word to each other, their eyes met. Later, they sat opposite each other in the library.

While the sole intention of being there was to study, the two often stole glances at each other. After hours of failing to concentrate, Berus left the library. It was only after days later that they happened to meet again and this time, Joel asked for Berus’ number.

“For me, it was love at first sight,” she smiles. Looking back, she says, she immediately fell in love with Joel because he was good-looking and smart.

Because they were both pursuing a bachelors in Social Sciences, Berus, who was finding it hard to grasp some concepts asked Joel, who was a year ahead, to explain to her. Joel gladly invited her to his hostel for the discussions. During the first discussion, he was smitten by her natural beauty and amazing character.

“She cared for me and respected me. She would buy for me gifts. We surely made use of our spare time by going out to eat and swimming. We enjoyed every moment of our time together. She changed my life,” he says.

However, Joel continued dating other women, which left Berus insecure since she had to watch and deal with all the attention he was getting. Berus’ antidote was to properly position herself in his life and it worked.

“I did not want to fight battles I knew I would lose. I concentrated on finding a permanent place in his heart and doing everything that would assure him that I would be the perfect wife for him. I also prayed and asked for God’s guidance,” she says.

Today, the two are happily married with three beautiful daughters.


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