Losing family can mean a total breakdown for anyone. And some people never get the courage of picking up pieces to move on. Some lose control and find solace in drugs and alcohol hence having accommodation on streets. Indeed for Mathias Ssemugonja, these were some of the temptations he had to contend with, but decided to overcome.
24-year old Ssemugonja, a resident of Ssekanyonyi village in Mityana District lost both his parents and siblings to HIV/AIDs. At nine years then, he had no choice but let the world choose his destination.
Had it not been the church, Mathias says, he would not have got even the little education he acquired. After his senior four, he chose to fight back.
Having endured the struggles of an AIDS orphan, Ssemugonja chose to be a better example to other victims of the scourge by embarking on an awareness crusade targeting HIV/AIDS orphans that seeks to reassure them that there is life after losing a parent to the disease.
He started God’s Mercy Ministries. He took it upon himself to fight the plight of many children in his community who are neglected and abandoned.
“ I became an orphan at nine years. Life without parents can be very challenging. There is that bond you miss out when you lose them. Sometimes, you feel like you don’t fit in society. You tortured both physically, emotionally and psychologically. I was lucky the church gave me a hand, nurtured and educated me up to my senior four. The fact that many children are living the life I lived once upon a time and are in the environment that I lived in as well drove me to start up something. I told myself that even if I failed to feed them with food, I would feed them with hope through preaching the word of God,” Says Ssemugonja
Ssemugonja’s life experiences prompted him to create a space at his home so that he could share whatever he had with the less privileged children in his community. He couldn’t bear to see them suffer after losing their parents.
“ I stepped out in faith to minister the needs of the orphans, vulnerable children and the less privileged families in my community. I had nothing but a small house where I started with (5) five orphans who had been abandoned by their guardians. Now, I look after forty-five children. I feed them, educate them and shelter them. I am lucky because people in my village are supportive. They don’t have much to offer but at least, they are not against my duties,” he proudly concludes.
Ssemugonja says he has been able to provide for the children through soliciting for assistance from local churches as well as national and international charities.