Recognising these everyday heroes

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Recognising these everyday heroes
Recognising these everyday heroes

Africa-Press – Ethiopia. In recognition of our June 9 Heroes’ Day, allow me to add a few more people that deserve to be celebrated for their contribution to our nation.

International school teachers

These teachers are often assumed to be as well-off as their students, but this isn’t always the case. While they might not face the extreme challenges of their rural counterparts in Karamoja, being surrounded by students and parents of higher economic status places them at a disadvantage in fulfilling their duties.

In the past, motivating students was simpler; promising a comfortable future or resorting to disciplinary measures. Now, these options are unavailable. Students are already living privileged lives, some receiving allowances that exceed their teachers’ salaries. Threats or corporal punishment, once fallbacks, can now lead to legal consequences. Yet, the pressure from parents, who pay substantial tuition fees, for academic results remains. In this impossible situation, these teachers truly deserve recognition and appreciation.

Pastors

This medal is dedicated to those who have faithfully shepherded churches for a decade or more without achieving financial stability. Perhaps you departed your original church in a confident stride, believing you had gleaned enough to establish your own congregation, only to find yourself struggling. The few members who followed you have returned to their former church, leaving you with a handful of weary souls burdened with disappointment.

Despite employing every trick in the book—affected demeanor, foreign accents, elaborate music and lighting, miracles, and prophecies—success has remained elusive. Each promised breakthrough has come and gone without fruition.

On worship days, as the offertory is counted, you muster all your strength to suppress despair. To all men and women of faith enduring this journey, you deserve a medal for your steadfast perseverance.

Socialites

Our brothers and sisters who, in the pursuit of keeping up with the Kardashians, have discovered the harsh reality behind the facade. Your elaborate charade is a relentless juggling act, as daunting as managing ten arms to keep all balls in the air.

Dread fills you at the sight of calls from persistent bank officers.

Embarrassment finds you when the Benz sputters to a halt in the most inconvenient places. At social gatherings, you maintain a façade of confidence, forcing out the laughter of a wealthy man, while inside, you yearn to retreat and shed tears.

Your 16-year-old daughter demands a new tablet because her classmates all have the latest gadgets, though hers still functions perfectly. Meanwhile, your 14-year-old insists on expensive braces that serve no practical purpose beyond deepening your financial strain.

Late at night, you ponder whether it is time to admit defeat and lower your standards, but another voice insists that no gain comes without sacrifice, even if your suffering feels masochistic.

Your friends jestingly label you a “muyilibi” and your foes mockingly call you a “mufere,” but I declare you a hero. It is an arduous path you tread, and being in your shoes is no easy feat.

Drive/conductors

The fifth medal is dedicated to anyone who has served as a driver, conductor, or both for more than a month, recognising the immense challenges of this demanding role. It is not just about physical dexterity and stamina, but also requires adeptness in theatrics and mathematics; a blend akin to mastering both science and art subjects in Uganda’s curriculum, a formidable feat. Many young men and women, driven by desperation, find themselves thrust into this role.

Picture a frosty morning when you are handed a tin barely held together by sisal strings, a relic from Noah’s Ark era, and paired with a cantankerous old driver.

Your task: To extract fares from passengers.

From dawn till dusk, you shower indifferent crowds with praise, flattery, and exaltation. You must summon passengers by any title; manager, principal, maama, mugole, even if they are worlds apart from these roles.

And just as the ‘principal’ you have convinced you are leaving immediately settles in, demanding to be driven promptly despite the taxi being half-empty, there comes the Kampala ladies, who choose such moments to strut and showcase their catwalk skills. Whether handling a worn-out 1k note or a suspiciously crisp 50k bill that might be counterfeit, you must discern who, when, and how to collect fares as you wrestle with the heavy door and keep an eye out for signals from other taxis about lurking traffic police.

For your unwavering tenacity, for rising daily to respectfully ask, “Ogenda nyabo/ssebo?” despite the trials, I award you this medal. It celebrates your courage in tackling each day anew in this demanding yet vital role.

The spouses

The final medal this year is awarded to the spouses of the aforementioned medalists, recognising the immense strength required to support partners who face daily challenges and frustrations. Your role demands acting skills and constant counsel, navigating a home front often fraught with tension. You must remain ever vigilant, prepared for moments when your spouse’s luck may falter. I also urge you to graciously extend this medal to partners who endure the company of individuals with a general disregard for personal hygiene; those whose body odour could disperse a riot.

I recall a time sharing a seat with a lady whose weave emitted such a potent odor that I silently said a prayer for her long-suffering partner.

To all of you, I commend your resilience and dedication. This medal honours your unwavering support and the quiet strength you exhibit behind the scenes, crucial to the success and well-being of your loved ones.

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