It was nearly 20 years ago that Kenneth and his wife Miriam set out on a short journey from their family home in Mukono, Uganda to the neighboring village of Bajjo. Kenneth had just returned home from his work in the United States of America to join his wife and 4 boys for Christmas when they shared a profoundly touching story about the plight of an elderly woman in their community.
When they arrived at her small, rundown house, Elizabeth was sitting outside with her two young granddaughters. She had just come back from her garden where she had picked some fresh jackfruit for lunch.
Kenneth remembers his first impression of Elizabeth: “She was dressed in rags. She looked stressed and sick. I saw poverty, despair, and hopelessness in her face. Like her life had already come to an end”. For a moment, Jajja Elizabeth mistook her visitors for government officials who had come up to help the poor elderly in her community.
“I thought they were just district officials.” She recalled!
But her face quickly lit up when she realized that the Mugayehwenkyis had come to help her and her granddaughters. They wanted to build her a house and help Jajja’s grandchildren start their school year.
For Jajja Elizabeth, who had lost her husband and daughter in the early 1990s, the visit was a ray of hope in an otherwise bleak existence. “I was alone. All I had to live for were two little grandchildren my daughter had left behind and at 70, I knew it was just a matter of time before I met my creator. I felt that I had outlived my usefulness”
Touched beyond words, Kenneth returned to the United States where he began to mobilize support from friends in Pennsylvania to help other grandmothers that he had met through his friendship with Elizabeth. His eyes had been opened to the dire situation of the elderly in Uganda and his heart burned to alleviate their distress. In September 2003, he quit his job and returned to Uganda to serve the elderly. He started ROTOM in October 2003 to provide care and support for older persons and the children in their care.
Within a period of 5 months, ROTOM had grown from supporting just 4 older persons to an astounding 49 older persons in both Namubiru, Mukono and Muhanga, Kabale (now Rukiga) districts of Uganda.
Today, ROTOM has directly supported over 2000 older persons and 600 children through healthcare, housing, education and small-scale income generating activities.
ROTOM also hosts seniors’ fellowships which continue to provide a venue for ROTOM supported older persons to find a sense of community and purpose. They come together to share their stories, exchange ideas, support each other, learn about Jesus, and also share a BIG nutritious meal. This day is an opportune moment for the older persons to exchange ideas and learn from one another.
Friends, your faithfulness over the years has made ROTOM’s work possible in hundreds of older people in East Africa. Thank you for giving the gift of love; the same love which gave Elizabeth a new lease of life. Your love has given hope, dignity and respect for older persons. We couldn’t do this without YOU ❤️
In 2011, Jajja Elizabeth Kiryokya went to be with the Lord but her story brought into existence the needs of thousands of impoverished older persons in Uganda. She remains the fundamental pillar of the work we have accomplished at ROTOM.
“At 70, I knew it was just a matter of time before I met my creator. I felt that I had outlived my usefulness” – Jajja Elizabeth Kiryokya
In honor of our 20th Anniversary this year, ROTOM has planned a series of activities that showcase the work we’ve accomplished together. These activities will also aim to raise awareness of the needs and rights of older persons. In keeping with the spirit of generosity, we hope you will consider making a gift to our 20th Anniversary Campaign. The money will go towards our programs for ROTOM Supported Seniors. If you are called to donate, please click the yellow button on the left.
It is our humble appeal to all of you who have supported ROTOM over the years to continue being good and faithful stewards and join us in this effort. From all of us at ROTOM we say thank YOU! Contact us at [email protected] for additional details about the ROTOM 20th Celebration details.