What you need to know:
- Philanthropist. Waddell Steven Ainganiza takes journalism beyond newsroom to help vulnerable people in Tooro region, writes Alex Ashaba.
Waddell Steven Ainganiza, 48, is a journalist at Voice of Toro in Fort Portal City. In the last decade or so, Ainganiza has been at the forefront of advocating for vulnerable people and doing several campaigns to raise resources to help vulnerable.
His passion to help vulnerable people, started in 1991. He was in Senior Two but dropped out of school because of the friction between him and his stepmother. Dr Keith Morton who was working with Africa Inland Mission heard about Ainganiza’s plight picked him up from the garden and took him to Nyakasura School in Fort Portal.
The missionary doctor had spent time in different places including Mulago, Kagando hospital in Kasese, and Ruharo Eye Hospital in Mbarara. However, Ainganiza had first met Dr Morton in 1989.
“I first met Dr Keith (Morton) when I had gone for an eye operation at Mulago hospital. He later was posted to Fort portal that was around the same time I had dropped out of school. He adopted me and catered to my education until I completed Senior Six from Kampala Secondary School in 1996,” Ainganiza recalls.
He says, he settled for journalism so that he could become the voice of the voiceless. In 2006, he joined Voice of Toro and and reported on Gender-Based Violence (GBV). Most of the stories, he sourced from victims who used to camp at the police station seeking help.
“My first assignment was at police (Fort Portal). On arrival, I found many vulnerable people who had come to report and majority of cases were of gender based violence nature. Henceforth, I started writing advocacy stories,” he says.
In a short time he started engaging police and local leaders on how justice could be served to such people.
“I developed rapport with the officers and we sometimes went to the field together during which, I would sit in reconciliation meetings,” he recollects. “I would use my transport facilitation to look for the vulnerable people and give them tips on how to follow up their cases with the police. I also offered them counselling services.”
In 2011, he mobilised Shs3m from Kabarole District local government and bought goats for 37 widows and elderly people to engage them in income generating activities. The project has become better. A year later, he also registered 60 needy children, mobilised resources locally and bought for them scholastic materials and uniforms to enable them access education.
In 2019, many people started approaching him through Family Clinic, a talk show he hosts. They needed financial assistance for medical treatment in specialised hospitals in Uganda and abroad.
One of the campaigns included “Save Abandoned Triplets from Death, Provide Shelter” which was to help a 28 -year- old woman Sharon Kyoshabire from Fort Portal City. Kyoshabire was abandoned by her husband after being delivered of triplets. The husband, said he was overwhelmed by basic needs and walked out on her.
“My husband abandoned me and our children, in a dilapidated banana fibre-thatched house .It was raining heavily and we were as good as people living outside. The cold was about to kill our children and we barely had necessities,” Kyoshabire recounts.
It is then that Ainganiza launched the campaign mobilising money to buy food and build her decent house.
Through fundraising in churches, individual contributions, Ainganiza raised Shs6m. They managed to build a house, kitchen and pit-latrine. This was topped up with relief items in less than a month. Surprisingly, two months later, the husband returned home.
Between 2018 and 2019, the senior journalist organised another campaign to mobilise more than Shs300m towards Brian Tumwesigye, who needed heart surgery in Kenya.
He mobilised Shs25m, the family of Tumwesigye topped up the balance.
This year, Peter Kyomuhendo is battling prostate cancer, said Ainganiza through house to house mobilisation raised more than Shs9m.
“I am happy because he paid the money was paid directly to hospital and had it not been for Mr Ainganiza, I would have missed my treatment,” Kyomuhendo said.
Although he still feels pain but he is optimistic that he will soon get better.
“I am grateful to Ainganiza’s tireless efforts looking for money to save my life and may God reward him,” the beneficiary said.
Other campaigns include saving Robert Olimi who needed Shs10m for hip joint replacement surgery in 2022.
“Using my salary I paid Joel Tinyesengereza’s tuition to complete O-Level and he scored aggregate 25 in 2020,” the philanthropist said.
“I had been chased from Nyakasura School and Fort Portal SS after my parents failed to raise my tuition. I had heard about Mr Ainganiza’s charitable acts and I approached him. I told him about my plight and he ….” he said.
Tinyesengereza is pursuing Physics , Chemistry, Biology/ICT in Senior Six at Mpanga Secondary School in Fort Portal .
Ainganiza has not stopped at the material campaigns, he formed Bahemuka Drama Group whose sole purpose is to create awareness in communities. This group comprises majority youth with whom they record radio dramas on different topics. These include sleeping under mosquito nets, sensitisation on Ebola, ending domestic violence, family planning through embracing of contraceptives, HIV/Aids prevention, and ending child abuse.
Ainganiza said this does not come without challenges. He says during resource mobilisation locally and internationally Ainganiza realised that the vulnerable are more than resources available.
“I have written several proposals to different donors but I have not been successful. I see people have a negative attitude towards helping small organisations. In the last 15 years, I have not received any external funding from donors. I am always helped by friends but I thank Pace Uganda for the funds they gave us to sensitise people and school children in Kabarole and Bunyangabu districts on malaria control and prevention,” he said.
He says in a few years to come, he wants to quit the newsroom and concentrate on programmes of helping vulnerable people in communities’ because it is his passion.
“I am saddened when I see husbands battering their wives, young girls having children. At my work station I receive needy children. Such people need full time attention,” he said.
Ainganiza appeals to all people to have manageable families, for children to enjoy parental love and care.
“Parents ought to prioritise parenting and talking to their children, mostly the girl child about the sexual reproductive health rights and the future they want. Girls should avoid peer pressure or engaging in early sex if they want a bright future,” he said.
In 2018, Kabarole District local government awarded AInganiza for being an outstanding journalist in helping vulnerable people and using his radio programme (Family Clinic) and Bahemuka Drama that have continued to create awareness.