PORTSMOUTH — Traveling far away from home is something that many college students find themselves doing to get their degrees. However, how many college students have traveled to a country, they have never been to with people that they don’t know, just to get a college education?
Two young men from Kampala, Uganda, in East Africa came to the United States at the young age of 23. Patrick Kawooya and Edward Mukomazi were born and raised in Uganda and were taken to Good Samaritan Children’s Home Orphanage in Kibwa, Nansana. Most of their time was spent growing up in the orphanage until they were presented with an opportunity to come to America for further education.
In the USA, they were hosted and received by Christ’s Community Church in Portsmouth, Ohio, under the leadership of Sr. Pastor Scott Rawlings. Rawlings and his wife, Alice Kaye, had visited Uganda and they visited Good Samaritan Children’s Home, where they found that some people had graduated from high school but had not yet gone to college. When Rawlings was told about the need to get them a college education, he offered to find scholarships for two of them back in the states.
When Rawlings returned to the states, he secured two scholarships at Kentucky Christian University (KCU). This was a dream and a prayers come true for the two young men who were selected to come to the United States. It was an opportunity for them to get a college education and for them to come to the United States. In Uganda, it is almost every child’s dream to come to America.
As excited as they were, there was the anxiety of moving from what they were used to into something completely new. Thoughts of living with new people, communicating in a language they barely understood and being far away from friends and family was scary. Still, they had to push all that aside because of the great opportunity.
“When we got to America, the first and unforgettable challenge was the weather. It was the 28 of December 2015 when we arrived in Newark, New Jersey,” Kawooya and Mukomazi said, “We had winter coats because we had been warned about the weather but being the very first time for us to be in such cold weather, the coats we had on felt like not enough! Especially when you consider Uganda’s average temperature is about 75 degrees Fahrenheit year-round.”
Rawlings talked about when these boys first left Uganda that they had never been on an airplane, on an escalator, there were lots of firsts for them like when they landed, it was so cold for them, Uganda is really close to the equator and that means the temperature stays nearly the same. The young men talked about their first snow and how they both felt that it was OK to look at it from inside the house.
“I don’t want to experience that cold. It’s too much,” Kawooya said, with Mukomazi quickly agreeing.
They said that they did go sleigh riding their first semester and that it was probably the last time. Although they said they did go with the Christ’s Community Church group tubing, they still were not fans of the cold things.
Differences they saw when they came to the U.S., they said that first, they had a different picture, they thought that every person in the U.S. was very rich.“We had a picture from the movies,” and humorously said they thought they were going to find phones on the road and pick them. They would find money anywhere and pick it.
“That’s the picture we had about this country. We never thought about finding a homeless person in the U.S,” the brothers said. “It was different. The reality was there were all kinds of different people.”
The young men continued, “Besides Scott, his wife Alice Kaye and his family, the entire body of Christ’s Community Church welcomed us so lovingly that it became hard for us to miss home, though the home is home, and we are not forgetting that. Many families opened their hearts and homes to us and, on top of that, their pockets to make our stay in the U.S. as easy as possible.”
Kawooya and Mukomazi shared they started school at KCU a week after they arrived, and four years later, they graduated with bachelor’s degrees in Advanced Biblical Studies (Class of 2020). After that, they attended Ohio Christian University, where they recently graduated with a master’s degree in Business Administration (Class of 2021).
These special young men asked of themselves, “What is next for us? Going home after five years and seven months to see how God uses us for His glory. We are getting ready to go back home to be part of the transformation of our people and country. However, God enables us to do so.”
Look for part II of this story tomorrow – What these young men are prepared to do when they return to Uganda.
Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740)353-3101 ext. 1928
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