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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Don’t ever doubt your ability to impact the lives of others

Title: The Price of Stones
Author: Jackson Twesigye Kaguri

Reviewer: Dennis D. Muhumuza

This is a true story about an individual who took a step of faith to help his community. Jackson Twesigye Kaguri was lucky, at least, that his uneducated parents sacrificed to educate him; an opportunity he maximised, excelling and earning a government spot at Makerere University and finally finding himself at Columbia University as a visiting scholar.

There, Kaguri fell for and married an African American woman and it was when he brought her back home in the remote village of Nyakagyezi, in Rukungiri district, that he recognised the gravity of need in his neighbourhood as hundreds of people lined up outside his family’s door, seeking tuition and other necessities for children of relatives who had died of HIV/Aids.

Kaguri deeply comprehended their plight, seeing that he had lost his beloved big brother and sister to the deadly disease and whose children he was now taking care of. That day in 2001, together with his compassionate wife, he knew they had to do something. Thus, Nyaka Aids Orphans School was born, with the intention of “saving one child at a time.”

However, it was not easy as Kaguri had to confront financial obstacles, doubting Thomases and other individuals who thought he was using the Nyaka Project as bait to contest for and win a parliamentary seat.

Relying on God and the larger support of the community, Kaguri was undaunted as he began with one classroom, “stone by stone.” As the vision took shape, the sceptics relented and started supporting him, donors came on board andright now, the Nyaka Aids Orphans Project has since grown and is helping hundreds of orphans and widows.

The Price of Stones is about that challenging but incredible journey. In 263 pages, Kaguri and Susan Urbanek Linville crisply tell this moving account, sugared with hilarious stories of Kaguri growing up and how his father’s strictness, mother’s immoderate love and the generosity of his elder brother were to shape him into the inspirational figure he is today.

President Jimmy Carter praises the book as “an inspiring account of turning tragedy into hope”, while another reader notes: “If you’ve ever doubted your ability to impact the lives of others, read this story and it will change your mind and heart.” Published in the US by Viking Penguin early this year, this book is already available in Ugandan bookstores.

--Sunday Monitor, October 17, 2010