Collins speaks at NMCL opening

Collins was born in Western Uganda, a place where life was simple, and books were a rarity. His parents, Jeninnah and James Tumwesigye, worked hard to provide for their five children.  When Collins’ father found work in the distant city of Kampala, Jeninnah and the children stayed behind, close to her teaching job. Soon Collins moved in with his grandparents, who taught him the values of hard work, education, and dreams.  

His grandfather, who believed fervently in education, undertook long walks to work to save enough money for Collins’ mother and aunt to attend college. They were the first educated women in the village, setting an example of perseverance and determination.

At the age of twelve, Collins learned that his mother and siblings had joined his father in Kampala, the city of opportunities. Hearing tales of their success in school and their mastery of English ignited a spark within him. Leaving the familiar village, he set out to join them.

Kampala, a bustling city of millions, was a stark contrast to the close-knit village. With no one to recognize his family name, he found himself alone and eventually homeless for three years. Life on the streets was harsh, filled with uncertainties, but a defining phase in his life.

In the depths of despair, he prayed for a chance at education and a place to call home. His determination was unwavering. It was a providential encounter with Moses, a friend who had left the streets, that provided a glimmer of hope. He found refuge in a mission and the kindness of those who shared the love of Christ.

Support from a generous woman named Nina Skarpsno Heide, rekindled his education. Nina sponsored his school fees for an entire year, marking a pivotal moment in his life. Education became his compass, guiding him away from the streets.

His journey led Collins to the Ugandan Dance Troupe, Ndere. Through music, dance, and drama, he found not only a creative outlet but also a renewed sense of self-worth. The dance routines became a driving force, empowering him with confidence and self-belief.  When his aunt attended a performance, Collins found his family!

Reuniting with his family and finding love in Jess, who had come to Uganda to work with a home for street children, were unexpected beautiful twists in the journey. Their shared passion for helping others marked the beginning of a lifelong partnership.

Collins and Jess joined forces with the Ugandan Water Project (UWP), where their work brought clean water to schools and families. The ripple effect of accessible clean water meant that children could focus on learning instead of walking long distances to fetch water.

Throughout his life, Collins recognized the scarcity of books in Uganda, particularly in villages and among underprivileged children. As he reminisced about his own journey from homelessness to education, he thought about the challenges children in Uganda face. They lack access to books outside the classroom, hindering their reading development and educational prospects.

In 2020, Collins’ brother, Namanya Hilary and his wife Winifred Blessing Barbra died in a car accident.  In their grief, Namanya’s family was determined that the couple’s heart for helping others and love of education would live on.  Namanya’s mother, a retired teacher, took in their children and set about teaching the boys, Jethro and Jesse, to read. 

Inspired by his experiences and his late brother’s passion for education, Collins envisioned a solution. He dreamt of building a library, the Namanya Memorial Community Library, to open doors for children and offer them the opportunity to explore the world of books. The library, established in July 2022, began with 1,200 books and quickly served 4,000 children in its first two months. With support from individuals in the United States and Uganda, over 23,000 additional books were collected, ready to fill the library’s shelves.

The library provides access to reading materials that were previously a rarity in Uganda, offering children and families an opportunity to make learning interesting and accessible. Books once owned only by teachers in schools now reach the hands of eager young readers. The Namanya Memorial Community Library emerged as a beacon of education, bridging the book gap and illuminating a brighter future for Ugandan children. 

Namanya Memorial Community Library embodies hope, compassion, and the belief that education can change lives. Together with the passionate team and generous supporters, NMCL is making strides in turning the page on illiteracy and creating brighter chapters in Uganda’s future.

Please join us on this incredible journey!