After losing her mother at a very tender age, all that is rooted in Diane Kwesiga’s childhood memories is the love from her maternal grandparents.
Growing up, there were a dozen children in the modest house of Mr and Mrs Charles Kagweza in Lyantonde, who sometimes struggled to find bed space on the floor. Kwesiga walked about 4km to school for some years before her aunt took her to another school. Theirs was a rural neighbourhood with large families and dependents.
As Kwesiga enrolled for secondary education at Valley College and Kiruhura Girls, she honed her leadership skills as head girl and church leader, while also excelling as a speaker. She later moved to Crested Secondary School, Makindye to complete her A-Level studies.
Risks associated with adoloscence
The urban advantage was not a guarantee for a good life. A 2019 study by Unicef reveals that children and adolescents living in Uganda’s urban areas are exposed to particular risks, with adolescent girls identifying violence from other people, unsafe sexual activity, early pregnancy, rape and defilement as the biggest threats.
“At that age, no one had talked to me about the changes that would occur to my body. It was a journey of self-discovery,” Kwesiga recollects.
Amidst all this, not at any one time did Kwesiga feel her childhood dream of becoming a lawyer slip away. Yet when she got 18 points, she was ineligible to be admitted to Makerere University to pursue law. She was two points below the cut off.
Despite falling short, she was admitted to Makerere University and was on course to become the first degree holder among her peers. After graduating, she found satisfying work as an information technology personnel at MTN before moving to Tangerine (now Lyca Mobile), where she worked for 10 years. Kwesiga is currently a director at Sail Global Corporation (SGC), a consulting business entity.
Her role as the head of the technical team at Tangerine led her to another course in business administration, where her roles included hiring, building teams and firing. It is this role that changed Kwesiga’s perspective about life.
She witnessed one of the former colleagues resign his job because he was battling HIV/Aids. After securing his NSSF benefits, his wife abandoned him . Kwesiga felt the need to provide shelter for her colleague in Matugga.
She had earlier taken care of the tuition needs of her former porter. And one by one, she started paying visits to orphanages while taking care of tuition needs of some children.
“I had a discussion with my husband this January and we explored possibilities as a family to start Ripples Foundation, a charity with a mission to spread love and kindness to vulnerable children such as orphans, the sick, the needy and disabled,” says Kwesiga.
By running what she calls a 10km campaign, Kwesiga says they have raised enough money from friends and family to donate to a number of children.
Kwesiga donates clothing, food and other basics to children at orphanages and babies homes. She does charity work with her husband, Ronald Kwesiga.
Her work in the orphanage
Kwesiga wakes up everyday thinking of ways to change lives. And in the past, she has visited many orphanages and offered support. Her next visit is scheduled in Fort Portal before her hometown in Lyantonde, where she first felt love.
“I am getting to understand that changing the world starts with me and you cannot do it alone. You need people. I have learnt first-hand that we must be humane in everything we do,” she explains.
Kwesiga is known among workmates for offering a certain percentage of what she earns to help abandoned or orphaned children.
She mentions that the Covid-19 pandemic has stalled most of the planned activities. Kwesiga says she wants to spread love to others as part of the legacy from her grandparents. “I want to give children assurance that awaits them,” she notes. Her husband, who also grew up with relatives from the mother’s side is glad to be part of Kwesiga’s noble cause.
“You have to do something because this life has given you everything a child dreams of. Every child wants a good life,” he says.
Kwesiga remembered how thrilled she was to take that step. She works with friends to do charity work. She has a healthy bouquet of activities, reading parenting books, dancing and preparing family meals. Prayer is the centrepiece of her family routine.
“All mothers should have it at heart that if they do not do what they are supposed to do, no one will do it for them. Loving children, supporting them and the families is the cardinal duty. Work and friends come and go. Family, on the other hand, stays forever,” she says about her philosophy of life.
Being a source of hope to other people keeps her going. She supports orphans while mentoring them. She does not want any child to face the same hardships that she faced during her childhood.
Ray of hope: Reaching out to those in need...
Being a source of hope to other people keeps me going. I do not want any child to face the same hardship I faced during her childhood. Every child deserves to be loved. ’’