Nelson Mubezi enrolled at KLSS in 2011 as a mature aged student. He had been a church evangelist leading services and preaching. His father had died, and he lived with his mother in very poor circumstances in Izigo, a village six kilometres north of Katoke. Nelson quickly proved to be a very capable student – amongst the best of his year and remarkably gifted musically. He wrote Christian songs for the school choir and also the words and music of the inspiring school song which is a prayer and now sung every Monday morning in school assembly. Nelson was also gifted artistically. Marilyn Moir tells how his beautiful calligraphy was seen around the school on signs and in posters.
In his final year at KLSS he was the school’s top student and in the National Exam gained Division 1, winning a place at Dar es Salaam University to study education. But he did not receive a government study loan and could not afford the fees so he returned to KLSS and was employed to teach. His eyes had been giving him problems and he had to wear glasses. Then to his dismay, one terrible day his sight disappeared. With help from school friends he was taken to some of the best hospitals in Tanzania but the answer was conclusive and very troubling. He had suffered Optic neuropathy. The doctors told him that the damage was so bad there was no cure.
This caused overwhelming distress. Although he did receive fee relief and started university studies he could not continue and wrote, “I stayed home for nearly two years hopelessly.” But he had a support group of former Katoke students – now at University – who stood by him and helped him in his music and for his studies. They are part of the growing Katoke alumni – a warm and grateful group of former students who want to show their thanks in practical ways. In particular he is assisted by his dedicated friend and carer, Joventius Katunzi. I vividly remember Joventius leading Nelson as he walked hesitantly up the steps when he visited our house at Katoke. I wondered what would become of this very clever but now a seriously handicapped young man. However, he regained his faith, took the year off University and with the help of the Katoke Trust learnt Braille and the use of a computer.
The Trust was delighted to find generous Australian sponsors, who meet costs for his University education and have given him a computer. He also now owns a Braille machine supplied by supporters of the Katoke Trust. As I write he has received results for the first and second years of his three year degree and has done very well.
There is much more of Nelson’s story to unfold but Nelson and his friends are emerging as great examples of Habimana’s vision “educating leaders for tomorrow”. They have a wonderful sense of Christian faith, vision and service. Nelson also has a vision. He writes saying that he “will stand firm for his family, the Katoke community, the nation at large and become a good ambassador of God in the society.” We thank God that we have been able to share in this story and we look forward to further episodes as Nelson completes studies next year and seeks to serve others as an “ambassador of God”.