Natukunda Grace: How her childhood challenges helped her to become a midwife

They say challenges are the hidden ingredients that build strong people. This is evident with Natukunda Grace Chaka who was shaped into one of Uganda’s most dedicated midwives amidst her childhood life filled with painful experiences.

Natukunda is the Diocesan Health Coordinator in the diocese of Kigezi. Lizzy Nabuma visited her and compiled this story for the Scribe News Personality of the Week.

Born in Rwakaraba cell in the Northern Division of Kabale Municipality, to the late John and Lydia Tibaringanira. Natukunda is the fourth child of the five siblings.

Natukunda would have become either a performing artist or a business lady given the events that characterised her childhood however fate made her a midwife. “I was so much into music that I was even recognized as the best performer in Music Dance and Drama (MDD) at Kabale Primary school in 2002”. She noted.

She recalls how she led a very difficult childhood being raised by a single mother. Her father abandoned them in Kabale and relocated to Kagadi district in Bunyoro kingdom in the southern part of Uganda.

“There was a disagreement between my parents on relocating to Bunyoro but my mother who was already doing a small business refused to follow our dad who by then was a builder. He left us and established another family in Bunyoro leaving our mother to suffer alone with raising us. Unfortunately a year before I completed primarily school, my mother passed on”. Natukunda who appeared to be nursing emotional wounds told the Scribe News.

“This was the darkest moment in my life and it marked the beginning of our suffering”, she admitted.

When their father came back to attend their mother’s send off, the children were filled with joy hoping that their father would go with them to Bunyoro. He didn’t. After one month, their father went back and left them in Kabale without any support. All the five children now had to fend for themselves. Their elder brother who had just completed his teacher training was now charged with the responsibility of looking after their siblings.

She completed her primary school in 2002 in what is today known as Kabale Demonstration School.

“The administration at Kabale Primary school understood my problem and allowed me to complete primary school without paying money. God was with me and I got 8 aggregates in my national primary leaving examinations”, Natukunda who was thankful added that although she was always among the school fees defaulters in secondary school but still she was able to pass with a first grade in her Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) national examinations at Kigezi High School.

Natukunda Grace
Natukunda Grace (Sitted Left) with some of her fellow students at Mbarara University of Science of and Technology.

How did you become a midwife?

Natukunda reveals that her journey to become a nurse started with a nurse in her neighborhood whom she says used to look very smart in her professional uniform.
“When a girl who was helping us at home got labor pains, I worked with that nurse to help the girl give birth. This made me love the service even more”, she revealed.

Although she was admitted in High School at Kigezi High School to History, Economics, Divinity and Entrepreneurship (HED/Ent), Natukunda instead opted for Kabale School of Comprehensive Nursing to do a certificate in nursing. This opened doors to her nursing career.

Still she faced challenges with her school fees since her siblings who were responsible for paying her school fees were also still in school.

“Am grateful for my husband who found me when I was hopeless in life. He believed in me and ever since he has been my guardian” They got married soon after completion of her nursing course.

Throughout the interview, Natukunda kept praising her husband Mr. Tumwine Joseph Chaka to whom she attributes all her life successes. She reveals that her husband has been besides her all through her career journey supporting her diploma and bachelor education. They now have three children; Jeremiah,Joshua and Josephine.

Mr Chaka is the Deputy headteacher at Kigezi High School in Kabale district.
Mr Chaka, Grace’s husband is the Deputy headteacher at Kigezi High School in Kabale district.

“My husband made me forget that I was an orphan. He has raised me as a child”, Natukunda expresses her gratitude.

She is now looking at a Masters in Nursing Science in Midwifery and Reproductive Health such that she can empower the young generation by training them in the profession.