State minister for  Children and  Youth  Affairs Sarah Nyirabashitsi, flanked by  Julie Solberg, the benefactor of  Dr Willy Kasirye  as  they  cut cake  recently. PHOTOS/ROBERT MUHEREZA.

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Kasirye: From houseboy to medical doctor

What you need to know:

  • Willy Kasirye dreamt of being a medical doctor but, the future looked bleak until  his grandmother and a good Samaritan held his hand. He graduated recently.

Although Dr Willy Kasirye, 27, was among 60 students that graduated at Mbarara University of Science and Technology at a ceremony that was held on May 28, in Mbarara City, his had been a bumpy education ride.
In Mbirizi Village, Mbirizi Parish in Lwengo District, Kasirye, admired a wealthy neighbour who happened to be a medical doctor before he got attracted to the profession. He felt a medical profession would get him and his family out of poverty.
“From Primary One up to Primary Four, I admired our neighbour who was filthy rich, respectable, lived in a plush house, and drove a posh car. When I asked my parents about him, they said he was a medical doctor. Henceforth, I got the zeal to work hard and join the profession, even then, I hoped to gain the same fame,” Kasirye recalls.

However, when in the first term of his Primary Four at St Martin’s Primary School in Lyantonde Town, his father died, his hope of joining his dream profession died too.
“My mother took me to my paternal grandmother’s home in Mbirizi Town because she could not afford my school fees. Meanwhile, my widowed grandmother a peasant sold a parcel of her land and managed to pay for my school fees up to Primary Seven at Mbirizi Primary School where I scored aggregate 18,” Kasirye further recalls.

Turning point
His grandmother suggested that he enrolls for a tailoring course.
“One weekend, my uncle came home and promised to take me to Kampala and pay for my secondary school education. I regained hope but when I reached Kampala my uncle changed his mind and assigned me domestic work at his home for a salary,” Kasirye recounts.
He worked as a house boy for one month until he met a white woman at a neighbour’s party where he was charged with ushering guests and washing their cars.


Kasirye’s grandmother (C) gives a speech.

“The white woman found me cleaning her car and she asked me whether I went to school. I lied to her that I was studying and she gave me Shs50,000 to buy books and pens plus she gave me her business card to always inform her of any challenges in my education,” he says.
Adding: “I secretly joined Senior One at Najjera Secondary School in Kampala as a day scholar. After a fortnight, the head teacher called my uncle whom he knew asking him why he had not paid my school fees. At about 7pm, my uncle returned home and asked why I was schooling without his consent. He ordered me out of his house.”
Kasirye stayed in the security guard’s house in the neighbourhood for three days because the security guard was his friend. While there, he remembered the business card he had got from the white woman whom he called for rescue and she promised to help him, before she invited him to her office in Kansanga, a Kampala suburb.

“The white woman introduced herself as Julie Solberg, the founder of Child Africa, an NGO which helps the needy and vulnerable children. I told her that my dream was to become a medical doctor and she offered to pay my school fees, provide  scholastic materials and buy food. She also rented for me a room near the school. After completing the first term, she asked me to join my grandmother in the village for free accommodation and enroll at a nearby school,” Kasirye says.
He obliged and returned to Mbirizi Town and joined Masaka Secondary School as a day scholar where he completed O-Level. Solberg always reminded him of his dream.

“I scored aggregate 32 at Senior Four with a distinction in Chemistry, credit three in Physics and Biology. For A-Level I chose Biology, Chemistry, Physics and sub maths  at Masaka Secondary School  where I scored 1ABB1 (18 points) before I was admitted at Mbarara University of Science and Technology for a Bachelor of Science in Education. But, I was unhappy that I had not qualified for medicine and surgery on government sponsorship,” Kasirye says.
He called Solberg about his shattered dream of becoming a medical doctor and she promised to sponsor him at Mbarara University of Science and Technology to pursue medicine and surgery.
“I grabbed the chance and thanked God for using His angel Solberg to secure my future to attain my dream career.  I remember in third year she visited me at university and found me wearing wornout  shoes. She bought for me a new pair. I will forever be grateful,” Kasirye shares.

Celebration 
On July 2, Solberg and her NGO general administration organised a congratulatory party for Dr Kasirye. He is the first beneficiary to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Medicine and Surgery. At the ceremony were other sponsored children that had graduated in other disciplines.
“We have sponsored about 15,000 vulnerable children  since this organisation started in 1991. 3,000 out of these attained degrees and diplomas while the rest got certificates in vocational skills. I used my money to sponsor Dr Kasirye to enable him achieve his childhood dream of being a medical doctor.  Although it was expensive, I could not let him down,”  she explained. She promised to sponsor Dr Kasirye for a Master’s that will see him specialise in Urology.

The state minister for children and youth affairs, Sarah Nyirabashitsi Mateke, the chief guest, thanked the administration of the organisation for supplementing government efforts of providing quality education to Ugandans.
In his speech, Dr Kasirye  attributed his success to God’s mercy that attracted Solberg to support his education at the time when the future looked bleak.
“My vision is to start a private health facility that will offer free health services to the needy and vulnerable children, besides supporting their education.  As a house boy, I would never have got to this most cherished profession.”

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