From the classroom to the farm

Patrick Rwebembera says before one thinks of investment, first determine what you are passionate about and is profitable among other prerequisites such as land

Patrick Rwebembera’s teaching career spanned 33 years having  started at Ibanda Secondary School in 1974.  
“Back then, you would be assured of a job even before completing school,” he recalls.

In 1980, he was transferred to Kyebambe Girls’ Secondary School in Fort Portal up to 1982 before being promoted to headteacher at Kyenjojo Secondary School where he served up to 2002. The veteran teacher’s last duty station was at Kaboyo Secondary School in Kabarole District. On July 24, 2007, Rwebembera signed out of the classroom forever.

The 74-year-old currently lives in Kasidikwa Village, about a half kilometre from Mountains of the Moon University in Fort Portal City, at a farm he painstakingly planned for before his retirement. 

Set goals  
Rwebembera’s biggest goal was to see all his children through school by his retirement which he almost realised as  his last born was in second year at university.

“In my long career, I learned that retiring while still having school fees to pay is a very stressful thing and I did not want to experience that. It is terrible to see someone retiring at the age of 60 years when they still have children in primary school,” Rwembebera notes. 

To avoid a stressful retirement, Rwebembera says he started saving for it the day he got his first appointment. When he had saved enough, he started investing the money carefully. He bought land, build a home and bought more  10 acres of land in Ssaka, Kabarole District  where he established his farm.

 He adds after buying his land, he partitioned it in order to have a variety of activities on it. On one part he established a banana plantation, put livestock in another and eucalyptus trees on another.

Plan with what you have
“When you plan early enough, you do not get problems when you retire, retirement does not mean that you should not have money. Just plan well, it requires one to be objective with priorities in planning and spending,” he explains.

He forewent some luxuries such as drinking alcohol and hanging out a lot to save for his investments.

Rwebembera adds that while at Kyenjojo Secondary School, the government asked him to choose between maintaining his retirement age of 60 years and reducing it. He asked to have it reduced to 55 years but the request was rejected.

“When they brought the questionnaire, I requested to retire at 55 years not because I was tired but I had prepared myself early enough,” Rwebembera says.

He says he does not miss anything from active service because all he did was to the standard and nothing regrettable.
“My work was smart, in fact after retiring, the Ministry of Education awarded me a certificate of appreciation,” he says with twinkle in his eye. 

After his retirement, Rwebembera went ahead to expand his farm projects. He planted more banana trees, bought more cattle, planted eucalyptus trees and has embarked on rearing goats. He is planning to rear rabbits as well.

His investments have enabled him to continue doing corporate duty in his community. Currently he is the chairman board of governors at Nyakasura School, Mountains of Moon Army Primary School and member of the board at Kagoote Seed School in Fort Portal.

Rwebembera says  one should start planning for retirement the day they start working and earning. 

“Do not start planning for your retirement when you are about to retire. Plan especially how you will spend your salary and where you want to invest. You need to prepare for a fall back position,” he says. 

He adds that one ought to implement part of their retirement plan such as establishing rentals, transportation or planting trees.

“Do not build your home after retiring because you are no longer earning. You also need to have a family size that will not exhaust your income,  making it impossible for you to save some of it. Have children early enough so they are independent when you retire,” Rwebembera advises.

Rwebembera adds that one needs to have financial discipline, especially cutting reckless activities that take away money but rather invest in things that can return money in future.
Contribute to your community
On a normal day, Rwebembera wakes up before 7am and plans to go to his farm. 

 “Retirement on the other hand means relaxation. You do not need to pressure yourself with work all the time. I wake up, freshen up and wait for my wife to serve breakfast while I read newspapers for current affairs,” he says.

He encourages retirees to remain active in order to stay healthy. “Even  if you are retired, you still can make contributions to your community,  for example you can do mobilisation and offer leadership where needed,” he suggests.