Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” It is this altruistic expression that inspired the former medical students of Makerere University—the graduates of the class of 1977 to be precise—to donate 108 modern research desks to the newly renovated and extended library.
It all started in 2017 when the aptly named ‘Cohort 77’ visited their former medical school in 2017 to see how they could give back to the community that shaped them. By then the extension to the Sir Albert Cook Memorial Library was nearly complete but needed 108 research desks/carrels to be functional.
“We offered to buy these desks; each costing about 450USD and we are here today to hand over the first batch,” said Dr. Jane Kavuma-Kayonga on behalf of the group, on Friday, June 1, during the reopening of the library.
The function was presided over by Eng. Dr. Charles Wana-Etyem, Chairman Makerere University Council. In attendance was also the Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Finance and Administration Prof. William Bazeyo, Stanbic Bank C.E.O. Mr. Patrick Mweheire and the Principal College of Health Sciences Prof. Charles Ibingira among other distinguished guests and students.
Some of the famous members of ‘Cohort 77’ include Dr. Munini K Mulera who is based in Canada and contributed more than ten desks, Dr. Christine Kadama, Dr. Mukasa Mukwaya, Dr. S.P.K. Mwesezi, Dr. S.B. Lumu, Dr. Sekadde Kiyingi, Prof. Ssegane Musisi, Dr. V. Lema, Dr. Lebona Sneg, the late Dr. Margaret Nyirenda and Dr. Jane Kavuma-Kayongo.
These medical professionals have served the world nobly and given back unreservedly, but their class was unique in that they wrote their final exams six days after the brutally murdered bodies of the then Archbishop of Uganda Janan Luwum, and the then Inspector General of Police Erinayo Oryema, and Minister of Internal Affairs Oboth Ofumbi were dumped in the city mortuary just a stone’s throw away from here (the library).
After the exams many stayed in their country to serve with honour despite the then volatile political situation while others found their way into Australia, Botswana, Canada, Kenya, U.S.A., Tanzania, South Africa and Namibia. But thanks to the Internet, from October 2016 they started looking up for each other and connecting again until they held a reunion at Munyonyo. It’s from here that they decided to visit their former medical school and pledged the desks, inspired by the Biblical principle that it’s more blessed to give than to receive.
“I must say that we are ordinary people who gave from the heart because we felt that it was the right thing to do,” said Dr. Jane. “Our reward is the self-respect that comes from doing what is needed at the right time.”
She also quoted Martin Luther King Jr., “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broad concerns of all humans.”
Indeed ‘Cohort 77’ have shown what it means to give back, and it is hoped that their selfless gesture will inspire others who have passed through the College of Health Sciences to do likewise as Makerere University continues to build for the future.