theadanews.com - Ada, Oklahoma

Education

December 18, 2012

Pictured, left to right, are Charles Mugabi, ECU President John Hargrave, Richard Kirabira and Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby, keynote speaker at commencement.

Ada —  

An act of generosity by Richard Kirabira and Charles Mugabi came full circle at East Central University’s fall graduation on Saturday.

Their life-changing act in March of 2010 has led to the two Ugandan men obtaining their master’s degrees during ceremonies at ECU’s Kerr Activities Center.

“Charles and Richard are not only great students, but have proven to be outstanding individuals,” said ECU President John Hargrave. “They have brought a lot of leadership qualities with them and will take even more back to Uganda with this additional educational opportunity. Our current and future students can aspire to the standards they set through their morals and character.”

The story began over two years ago when ECU President John Hargrave traveled to Gulu, Uganda, with Pros for Africa, an Oklahoma City-based organization that aids disadvantaged African children by drilling water wells, providing doctors and medical care as well as teaching life skills.

Upon landing, it was discovered that Hargrave’s luggage was lost. But Kirabira and Mugabi waited three days at the airport for the American’s lost luggage to arrive and drove it five hours through a civil war-torn area to deliver it to him.

Gulu is in northern Uganda where rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army fought government troops for years and brutally terrorized defenseless villagers, regularly seeking children to replenish their military ranks. They also kidnapped girls, forced them to become sex slaves and often mutilated or killed them.

"We didn’t encounter any problems but we went through some scary parts of Northern Uganda,” said Mugabi.

Once Hargrave received the luggage from Kirabira and Mugabi, the Ugandan pair would not take money and compensation from Hargrave for their efforts.

“The principle we live by is helping others without expecting a reward.” Mugabi said.

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