We met Fr. Richard at ACTON UNIVERSITY and after viewing the excellent film POVERTY INC. we decided to collaborate to help launch the Jinja Youth Entrepreneurial Project.
I, Fr. Richard Buyinza was born on Dec. 12, 1976 to Lawrence Baliraine and Jane Kyazike. The second born among 8 siblings: 2 girls and 6 boys. I enjoyed growing up with my brothers and sisters in our small village – Iganga, in Eastern Uganda (not far from Lake Victoria and the source of the Nile). We shared our many joys and sorrows as a loving family. Like any other family in our area at the time, we grew up doing subsistence farming. We lived often on the bare minimum, at times lacking basic needs like enough clothing and food, not mentioning the lack of medical care. Our parents did a lot to sustain us, at times with the help of their friends but it was not always easy.
Though learning is considered a basic human right, my education was acquired at a very high cost given the fact that without reasonable housing structure, medical care and food among others, priorities often shifted and education became a luxury for a good number of village families. In fact, due to lack of school fees, I could not join secondary education immediately after primary school. I spent a year out of school working before re-joining school. Never the less, This never hindered my determination to acquire education.
In our family, we learnt how to work with our hands since we knew that nobody would help us out without working. We sometime did various jobs that were hazardous to our health, especially for children. By 12 years of age, unbelievably, I had started working to supplement the income of my parents. I did sand mining, block making, animal rearing, and growing of crops like maize and tomatoes. Working together helped us to pay school fees, along with the help of a few generous individuals.
The most challenging economic venture that I embraced, I think, was making blocks in a traditional way. This involved working more that 12 hour every day in the scotching sun or during heavy rains, cutting huge quantities of wood with hand axes, carrying the wood at that tender age, and enduring the pains of burning blocks. I cannot estimate the degrees at which blocks burn to turn red, but that speaks volumes about the heat we enduring for years. This gave me an experiences of how dangerous life can be and how dangerous to the environments human activity could be by cutting trees. No wonder, we suffer a lot from effects of deforestation. Despite all these dangerous activities, I was among the few lucky ones on the village at my time, who, miraculously earned the joy of education
I began my primary school at Mawundo Sub-grade, then joined Nakalama Primary School, Mugadya Memorial Secondary School (now defunct), King of Kings Secondary School. I continued working even while doing my secondary education without giving up my faith. With this little education I had acquired, we used to move from house to house praying the rosary, and since I was among the few who could read and write, I had to took up a leading role at village prayers sessions, especially leading the rosary and the litanies at the end of the rosary. This probably was opening my way to priesthood. While doing my secondary education, I felt an inner voice calling me to the seminary. And like any other child, I shared with my parents this desire and dream. I received a positive and encouraging response.
With the support of my parents and some generous Christians in my home parish, I began my seminary formation on July 4, 1997 at Jinja College Secondary School (Uganda Martyrs Minor Seminary). I then joined Katigondo National Major Seminary where I did a BA in Philosophy followed by a year of pastoral experience in Kagoma Parish. I then joined St. Paul’s National Seminary in Fort Portal where I did BA in theology. I was ordained to the priesthood on August 11, 2007, in and for the Diocese of Jinja. After working in Nawanyago and Buswale parishes between 2007 and 2010, I joined the formation and teaching team, at Katigondo National Major Seminary in Uganda. Here, I did the formation work and taught philosophy for 3 years. With the recommendation from the Rector of Katigondo, my bishop sent me to Rome for further studies. I am currently at the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome studying for my PHD in Philosophy with the view of getting back to Uganda, to continue with the formation and teaching work. If all goes well, my current studies will end by the end of next year.
As part of my hobbies, I enjoy meeting people from different parts of the world, sharing experiences, having intellectual discussions and teaching. I play a bit of football (soccer), chase game, table tennis,and badminton. I love visiting new places for discovery. I have been to Italy, Australia, USA for the excellent ACTON University (where Our Jinja Youth Entreprenureal Brick Making Project began), Nigeria, Ireland, Kenya, and Tanzania during my holidays. I speak Lusoga, Luganda, English, and Italian. Encounter and accepting people beyond the limitations of my family, clan, village and country, with an open and appreciating mind, has been my biggest blessing and strength. I can never thank God enough. Reaching out to others is for me a miracle of life and growth. Though some people change negatively after meeting other cultures, the fact is, you cannot encounter other people and remain the same. I am what I am because of many good people I have encountered in and outside my homeland.
I grateful to my parents who gave me the possibility to be who I am in their simplicity. I thank the bishop who has opened my eyes by offering me the possibility of further studies. I look forward to retuning to my homeland to teach the next generation of holy and faithful priests.
Father Richard has been fortunate to attend ACTON UNIVERSITY on a scholarship. It is a 5 day seminar mixing faith with free market principles and entrepreneurial attitudes, with over 1000 people from all walks of life and countries. He recommends looking into the conference and considering applying for a scholarship. His friends Fr Samuel and Fr Robert have benefitted from the connections formed there.