Almost 10 years ago, a little boy named Henry Kikomeko boarded a plane in Uganda bound for the U.S. He, along with nine other children, came to America to become part of the first ever Ugandan Kids Choir tour!
The year was 2006, and Henry was 10 years old. Read on as he reflects about his choir tour experiences and gives us an update on where he is now.
Henry was so excited to meet us and give us an update on his life over the last couple of years. He had grown into a tall and confident young man – a far cry from the naïve little boy he once was. Henry strode over to a chair and took a seat, smiling as he began to reflect back on his time with the tour. Read on for the full interview:
QUESTION: Before we talk about your time in the U.S., can you tell our readers a little bit about your background?
ANSWER: Yes, absolutely. I grew up on one of the largest of the Ssese Islands in Lake Victoria – it’s called Bugala. I don’t really remember my parents as they both died before I was five years old. I was passed around by a few relatives and then when I turned eight, a miracle happened! I was sponsored and sent to live in Bbeta Village along with other orphans who were sponsored by Childcare Worldwide.
Q: I love coming to Uganda and visiting your beautiful country! Can you tell me something you like about living here, and something maybe that you don’t like?
A: I really like our green jungles that we have and our wonderful fruits – especially Jack Fruit. I remember when I was a child picking berries native to Bugala, but, you had to be very quick – the monkeys liked to eat them too! I guess what I really don’t like about my country is the corruption. It is very bad.
Q: Do you have any memories that stand out in your mind from the time before you were sponsored?
A: Yes, one in particular that I don’t think I will ever forget. One day when I was about seven years of age, I went fishing with three other people out on the lake. One of the men was pulling in his fishing net and it caused the boat to rock back and forth considerably. One man fell in and none of us were able to swim. I saw that man die from drowning right before my eyes. I have never been fishing since then and never want to go again as the memory of that man’s death will haunt me for the rest of my life.
Q: That sounds like such a tragic memory. Can you tell us what the happiest memory of your childhood was?
A: The day I was told I would be going to the U.S. to sing in the choir! I will never forget that day. I couldn’t sleep that night as my mind raced with questions of what it would be like. I felt like I would be travelling to another world.
Q: Being in an airplane for the first time must have been amazing. Can you share what that was like and what you remember about it?
A: I remember going to the bathroom and being very scared by the loud flushing sound when I hit the button to flush the toilet! When I finished washing my hands, I carefully opened the door thinking that when I came out everyone in the plane would be looking at me – the boy who had made that loud noise in the lavatory! But they were all quietly seated in their rows as if nothing had happened.
Q: Do you have a favorite memory from your time in the U.S.?
A: Feeling so much joy coming from our host families. Pillow fights were really fun! I liked riding bikes too. A particular highlight: One of our host families took us to see the Pacific Ocean. I had heard about it and had always wanted to see it. I kneeled down and touched the water and thought, “This is it. It doesn’t get any better than this.”
Q: Is there something you miss about the U.S.?
A: I miss the joy and cooperation Americans have for each other – I felt like their hearts were “golden.” So giving and caring. I also really liked how scheduled they were and good with time management – that is something I want to incorporate into my own life when I have my own business.
Q: Can you tell us something about your sponsor?
A: They live in Lynden, Washington. I stayed with them one night which was great. They taught me so much. Their encouragement really kept me going in my life. I remember when I first met them – it felt so unreal, like, wow, my sponsors are really real people! That visit with them really kept me going in the years that followed.
Q: Was there something that inspired you during your time in the U.S.?
A: I was really inspired by the preachers I heard in the US. After we performed, we would sit and listen to the sermons – a lot of the messages we heard really touched my heart.
Q: You’ve been to the U.S., where else would you want to go and why?
A: I would be interested in visiting the Philippines. I would like to see and meet other people who have had similar struggles like I have had. I think the typhoons that took place there have been really devastating to the people.
Q: Can you tell us what you’re up to now?
A: Recently I graduated from Makerere University with a major in Human Resources Management. I am now working for marketing company as an assistant manager.
Q: Do you have any final thoughts?
A: I am so thankful for the time I spent with the choir. It has really shaped and changed my life in a positive way. And without my sponsors, I would never been where I am today.
Big thanks to Henry for sharing about his past and future with us. Check out our website to see when and where you can meet the kids from one of our current choirs!