Henry

Ddungu-HenryHenry Ddungu and I are the same age and while he is a successful doctor and a PhD candidate, we have lived very different lives.

He has three children, as I do, but his are ten years older than mine.   I teased him a bit about becoming a father so much younger than me. He is a remarkably friendly guy, always quick to share a smile and a good joke, but his response was quite serious.

Peter, he told me, back in the early 90’s when we were young, if you wanted to have children, you had to do it when you were young.   He was 21 when he first became a father because most of his friends, and four of his brothers all died before they were 27.

They all died from HIV.

Today, Henry takes care of an entire village of family members, many of them the children of his dead brothers.   With his skills and experience, he could practice medicine anywhere but he chooses to stay in Uganda.

“My family, they need me.   My people, they need me,” he says without any sense of ego. It is just a fact of life for Henry.

Henry is now the deputy director of the Uganda Cancer Institute and is determined to make a difference.   Later this week, the President of the Republic will pay him a visit to thank him for the work he is doing.

Henry is non-plussed about the pomp and circumstance that will come with that visit.

“I just want to do my best to see that whole families, and entire generations, never get wiped out by a disease again in my country.”

“This is why I stay.”

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