For most 13-year-old’s, school, work, and play fill up their daily schedules, but that’s not the case for Ugandan teenager Nicholas Luwuge. His dream of supporting his mother so that she can enjoy a good life has come true thanks to prudent saving habits and a can-do attitude. In an interview with the Monitor, Luwuge revealed that he built a two-bedroom home for his mother with a shoestring budget of $1,174.
“My mother was living in a wooden house, yet I made some money. So, I decided to construct one for her. I used bricks, stones and cement. I was copying the style used by the former area chairperson, Nalunga Bunjazm, whose house has a firm foundation,” he explained.
The house is one of the few permanent structures in Bugoma Trading Center in Mugoye Sub County, which is part of Kalanga District. Well-wishers who admired his determination contributed the iron sheets for the house.
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Luwuge built the house using income that he earns from making boats. Unlike most adults who attend university to learn about a chosen profession later in life, he learned how to make boats from watching adults do it at the Bugoma Landing Site. The price of a boat costs $88 and he makes about 30 in a year. Part of his income also goes into paying for his school fees.
Luwuge is also the breadwinner in a household comprised of his mother and brother. His father abandoned the family when he was only three years old. They then moved from their home district of Kalungu to Kalanga.
“He has been working since we came nine years ago to settle here. Although the journey seemed tough, my son seemed ready to persevere since he had no father to cater for his needs,” said his mother, Rodha Nakirigya.
A strong bond exists between mother and son, evident by Luguwe’s decision to have his mother manage his earnings.
Yet, despite accomplishing what many of his peers have set aside as a future goal, Luguwe remains grounded. He understands that he has to balance school and work in order to be successful in the future.
“I study during the day and work in the evening and [on] the weekends. I also get time off to go for night lessons since my school is near home. This was the only solution for my education. My mother could hardly take care of us. Life is better since I started working,” he explained.
For a boy so young, poverty has empowered Luguwe and provided him with a sense of purpose, constantly reminding him why and for whom he is working for.