By Edgar R Batte
On a trip to Ssese Islands in Kalangala District in July, Dennis Rubarema met a woman whose appearance and conduct he fell in love with so much so that he could not resist starting a conversation with her. Evelyn was surprised that someone had had his eyes on her right from the start of the journey at Makerere University in Kampala to Bukakata and then to Ssese Islands.
Dennis was a student of Development Studies but had fluked the trip in order to enjoy the sights of Ssese Island. And because he was not supposed to be part of this journey, he spent the first night in the coaster bus since he did not have any accommodation reserved.
When he talked to Evelyn and explained his predicament the following day, she welcomed him to share with her and her friends. He remembered her being so nice to everyone during the journey; sharing cookies and refreshment as they travelled. He knew for sure that she was kind and generous, and no wonder she had opted for to pursue a degree in hospitality. He was in the last year of his academic study at Makerere University while she was in her second year.
The next day, the group was scheduled to have swimming lessons in the lake. When Dennis joined them, he realised that Evelyn was a good swimmer too and so, he approached her and made a request.
“He asked me to teach him to swim but as I tried to teach him, I noticed he was playful and maybe up to something else. He later asked for my mobile phone number and a week after returning from the trip, he called me and asked if he could pay me a visit,” she says, adding that at the time, she stayed with her married elder sister in the upper estate of Kyambogo near the Kabaka’s Palace.
He would walk 10 kilometres from Seeta to Kyambogo to see and have a chat with the woman he had fallen in love with. Her niece admired his commitment and started to convince her that he was serious about their relationship.
Evelyn’s niece would ask her how many boys had walked the Kyambogo hill for her.
She decided to make her feelings known as well since she had also fallen in love with him. With time, Dennis started confiding in her, just like lovers do.
The long distance
“One day as we had our usual banter, he told me he would be travelling to the United Kingdom for further studies and asked me to pray for him,” she recalls.
She was pregnant with their first child and although she escorted him to the airport with her family, she was skeptical about their future. She thought this was the end of the relationship. However, the moment he arrived, Dennis called and then for every night on all the days he was away.
“Because he was allowed to also work, every time he received some money, he would send it to me. Even if he was far away, through our daily phone conversations, our love grew stronger. For the one and half years he was away, we talked every single day, encouraging each other and praying that we finally get to spend our time together as a married couple,” she says.
“Through our conversations, we got to know each other better so when I came back, I went straight to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park where she worked. Because she was staying with her mother at the time, I rented another house and moved in with her,” he recalls.
Dennis travelled again for further studies to the UK and when he returned, the couple got married in July 2013 on her birthday. And whereas their friends thought the lovebirds would have their wedding reception in Kampala, they opted to have it in Buhoma, Bwindi.
Their marriage is anchored on commitment and friendship. The couple are founders and directors of Ride 4 a Woman, a charitable organisation set up to support women struggling with poverty, HIV/Aids and domestic violence in Buhoma.
“We are committed to changing lives. It was not easy to give up the comfort of the pre-set norm of settling in the city but we have been able to sustain village life,” Dennis says.
The couple are lovers and business partners, something they say needs a delicate balance.
‘‘It is not easy but when we began working together, we both had to settle into our roles. We each had to appreciate the roles we were good at and that is our strength. When it comes to work and a business decision has to be made, we try not to get our emotions interfear. We are lucky that both of us know what we want to be and we encourage each other to each our goals,’’ the couple says.
‘‘We will agree before we take the decision but overall, I am the financial controller. Although I have been entrusted with the role of running the organisation and the family, I always consult my wife and we both agree before a final decision is made,’’ Dennis adds.