FRANCIS MUGWANYA - founder & director
I was born in the central area of Uganda in 1978. I am the 2nd born of my parents; I come from a “small” family of 9! I have been very blessed to have both of my parents and they have always loved me and cared for me.
In 2010 the Lord gave me the wonderful gift of Adrienne to be my wife. We now serve together along with our children.
When I was 3 years old I got polio and have been unable to walk since that time. My parents tried to seek medical help for me but Uganda in those days was very unstable and good health care was not available. I was forced to crawl on my hands and knees to get around. I hated always being dirty. In Uganda people with disabilities are mocked and considered to be 2nd class or cursed. I hated the names they called me and stayed close to home where I was safe.
When I was 8 years old my parents and my extended relatives tried to figure out what to do with me. Most 8 year olds should be in school but it was so far for me to crawl there and back. Some people did not think I was even worth educating since “cripples don’t amount to anything”. I am thankful that my parents loved me enough to decide that I could go to school. My father bought a bicycle, which was a luxury item in those days, for my older brother to use to take me to school and back.
I am forever grateful to my older brother Fred. He tirelessly and selflessly struggled so I could have an education. Every morning he would take me to school on the back of the bicycle then after dropping me off he would ride it back home and walk himself to his school. We had to leave the bicycle at home during the day so no one would steal it. At mid-day my classes ended so he would leave his school, go home, pick up the bicycle, ride to my school, pick me up and take me home then he would walk back to his school for afternoon classes. He did this every day without complaining. We had fun riding a bike and also had our share of spills as the bike was so big Fred could hardly ride it!
Meanwhile my dad made several trips with me to the capital city of Kampala looking for a wheelchair. These trips would take all day on the bad roads and there was a terrible post-war fuel shortage which made the trip very expensive as well. Many times my dad and I would go to yet another place he had heard might have a wheelchair. He would carry me on his back through town to get to some of the places. We inquired and knocked and asked and tried but we always came back disappointed. We tried for years to find a wheelchair but there didn’t seem to be any in Uganda!
Finally our prayers were answered! One day when I was 11 years old an organization that helps kids with disabilities miraculously gave me a wheelchair! My life dramatically changed that day! Now I have my freedom to move around! Now I can participate in society like everyone else. I could go to school. I could go watch football games. I could go to church. This gift began to change my identity.
Growing up I started to believe what everyone said about me. I believed I was useless and crippled. But then with my new wheelchair I began to go to church and my life dramatically changed again! I asked my youth pastor why he always was smiling. He told me it was “this Jesus of mine” and I told him I wanted Jesus too then! I wanted the joy that he had. I accepted Jesus as my personal Saviour when I was 12 years old and God gave me my smile! Throughout the next several years the Lord blessed me with discipleship from a godly man who taught me what the Bible has to say about my true identity. God knit all the parts of my body together and created me wonderfully (PS139); He made me in His image (Gen1:27); and best of all He has planned for me to be His very own son. I am a child of God! He is my Father.
Today I am compelled to share the love of the Father with those who do not know Him yet. God alone can change their lives! And I am compelled to give mobility to those who are right now still crawling in the dirt. I cannot sit idly by, I must use whatever the Lord has given me to be a blessing to someone. There are over 2.5 million people with disabilities in Uganda still living in the mud, still thinking they are cursed, still hopeless. We have been given the wonderful opportunity of making a difference in their lives! Will you join us?