Rutabyama, survivor of the 1988 plane crash

The flight. Today marks 33 years since the Uganda Airlines Flight 775, Boeing 707-338C, registration 5X-UBC, crashed while attempting to land at Rome-Fiumicino Airport in Rome, Italy. Thirty-three of the 52 occupants on board were killed and among the 19 survivors was Justine Rutabyama, 68. Photo/Phionah Nassanga 

What you need to know:

The flight. Today marks 33 years since the Uganda Airlines Flight 775, Boeing 707-338C, registration 5X-UBC, crashed while attempting to land at Rome-Fiumicino Airport in Rome, Italy. Thirty-three of the 52 occupants on board were killed and among the 19 survivors was Justine Rutabyama, 68.



It is 11 am, and I am on my way to Minister’s Village Ntinda, it is where Justine Rutabyama resides.  Uncertain of her exact location, I stay on the phone for directions. But unfortunately, by the time I get to my destination, her phone is off.   After 45 minutes of wondering and wandering about, I receive a call apologising for having kept me waiting. “I am sorry, by the time you called I was in for prayers,” she continued to apologise as she gives me directions to her apartment.
Clad in a pair of white jeans and a red bourse, Rutabyama welcomes me into her living room, filled with portraits of the holy family, Mother Mary and Jesus hanging on the wall. There is also a wooden rosary hanging in one of the corners. 
 
Rutabyama usually comes here to pray and celebrate life. She is thankful for the gift of life, especially after surviving the Uganda Airlines crash that her son 33 years ago.
 “Whenever I am asked how I survived, I say it was by God’s grace and mercy because at the time the crash happened, I was saying my nights’ prayer preparing myself to sleep as my baby had already fallen asleep besides me,” she recalls.

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