Joseph Lubega

---- The founder ----
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"...they in turn started to regard me as their parent. "

My personal story starts with the fact that I come from a very poor background, and it is a miracle that I got an education at all. My mother was a single parent, and I have never known who my father is. She struggled very hard to see me through school until I stopped after graduating with a Grade III teacher’s certificate.

At the age of 19 I fell into bad company leading to my catching the bad habits of alcoholism and addiction to alcohol and marijuana. Because they are expensive habits and I did not have an income good enough to sustain them, I started breaking into people’s houses to steal cash and valuables. The first time I was apprehended, I was beaten terribly and nearly died. But this did not stop me from going back to burglary. I was thrown into jail many times. All the years from 1990-1996 are for me jail years because I never spent more than one month outside prison during all that time. In January 1997, I was involved in an accident that led to my right ankle getting crushed, leaving me with a permanent limp. Because my mother had died in 1990 and my older siblings had dispersed to different places, I had no biological relative to resort to for help. A friend allowed me to stay with her family where her mother-in-law massaged my broken leg regularly until I could stand on it again. After seven months, I went to live with a friend in a small room on the outskirts of Kampala. In the neighborhood was a pentecostal church from where each evening I would hear voices raised in joyful praise. In the hopeless situation I was in, I could not imagine that God loved me or that He had a good plan over my life. Out of curiosity and boredom, I went one evening to the church and upon entering, an usher welcomed me with a big smile and addressed me as “brother”. I was suspicious and decided to sit as nearer to the door as possible just in case. The preacher surprised me by the beautiful words that came out of his mouth. I went away with a feeling that the burden on my life had become lighter. I went back the following day and on the third day when the altar call was made, I gave my life to Jesus. I have never looked back and I never regretted that I made this decision.

After a few days, the pastor invited me into his office where he encouraged me to ask him questions about my new faith. He also asked me a few questions about myself and I told him I had nowhere to stay. He said the only solution was for me to sleep in the room that was used for Sunday School lessons. For about four months I spent the nights in this room together with other destitute people young and old who would come seeking for shelter at the church. I started helping out at the church in every way I could and many of the congregants started taking note of me and giving me some handouts ranging from small cash gifts to clothes and cooked food. One day an electric piano was delivered to the church and the administrators found that they had nobody to play it. Because the biggest portion of my early years was spent around a big Catholic cathedral, I had access to the big church organ and the two grand pianos. Although I never had formal lessons, I could do something on a keyboard and so my promotion came as a result of that little knowledge. Soon after that, I was the church pianist and I also had the responsibility of taking care of the church’s public address system. I was granted permission to lay a mattress on the floor of the storage room for the sound equipment. This small room became the launch pad of the ministry of taking care of orphaned children.

Uganda is a unique country. It is endowed with a lot of beauty and many natural resources. Fertile soils and mild weather ensure that it is green year round. The fertility rate of Ugandan women is the highest in the world at the average of 7 (seven) children per woman. We now have the distinction of having the youngest population in the world at 51% being children under the age of 15. A high prevalence of AIDS and other fatal communicable diseases, rampant traffic accidents, wars and other calamities, resulted in many parents dying off, leaving many orphaned children. There are 2.5 million orphaned children in Uganda under the age of 15. Many of them end up on city streets.

It is because of these facts that I started to notice some young children who used to hang around the church premises; some very sick with open ulcers all over their bodies. I started sharing my food with some of them and they in turn started regarding me as their parent. I asked the pastor if I could take full care of one of them and he accepted. But soon, there were 2 (two) of them and then 3 (three) and then seven until thirteen when the church administrators became alarmed and asked me send the little ones away or take myself away with them. We moved out of the room at church where we were staying at the time and moved into an unfinished house next to a swamp in the same neighborhood.

Many children came to ask for help and soon enough, I had 26 young boys under my care. There were many challenges facing me due to the fact that the young ones needed to be put in school. They needed spiritual care, feeding, medical care and some of them needed a lot of emotional therapy after the horrible things that had happened to them earlier. A time came when I despaired and seriously planned to abandon them and walk away never to return. In November 2005, three Dutch men came to Uganda and God arranged that we meet and after talking to them, they offered to help and included us into a program where they looked for individual sponsors for individual children. This caused many positive changes in our lives and things took a turn for the better.

In 2008, they organized a big conference in Rotterdam and the people donated towards the buying of 15 acres of land on which Bulamu Children’s Village now stands. With help from individual friends and families in Holland, we were able to set up 10 buildings on Bulamu Village. I am convinced more and more that this is my calling in life. When I look at the faces of these young people, filled with the hope that comes from believing what I often repeat to them that the God of heaven and earth loves them and has their good at heart, then my life gains an unshakeable significance leading me to thank God for bringing me into the earth at a time as such as this. All glory be to him.