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Student who lost fingers in Makerere teargas incident graduates, enrols for Law

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Richard Ssebuganda. PHOTO URN

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Richard Ssebuganda, one of the 12,913 individuals receiving degrees at the ongoing 74th graduation at Makerere University, is not just a graduate; he is a testament to resilience and determination.

Achieving a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Sciences from the College of Health Sciences, Ssebuganda’s success is underscored by the challenges he faced and overcame.

Ssebuganda entered Makerere University with both hands intact but faced a life-altering incident in February 2022 during a protest led by former Guild President Shamim Nambassa. The protest, aimed at ending online lectures, escalated into a confrontation with the police, resulting in tear gas and live bullets being used in student halls.

Ssebuganda, then a third-year Medicine and Surgery student, lost several fingers on his right hand when a tear gas canister exploded in his room in Lumumba Hall. “I came back to my room at around 3 pm from a discussion, I remember there was something that was coming from a ceiling and coming to my chest, and I used my right hand to throw it away and it exploded,” Ssebuganda told URN.

Despite the traumatic incident, Ssebuganda acknowledges the unwavering support of his parents, who became his beacon of strength in the face of odds and frustration. He attributes his academic success to their encouragement.

While the physical demands of pursuing Medicine became challenging with his disability, Ssebuganda opted for Biomedical Sciences—a field that allowed him to engage without constant reliance on his fingers. He expressed the hope of returning to Makerere one day to enroll again in Medicine.

In a remarkable display of determination, Ssebuganda has also embarked on a parallel academic journey, enrolling in a Bachelor of Law program at Uganda Christian University. Motivated by a commitment to activism and a desire to advocate for others, he aspires to carve a niche as a medical lawyer.

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Addressing the financial aspect of pursuing two courses, Ssebuganda revealed that donors are funding his Bachelor of Law, highlighting his gratitude for the support that enables him to pursue dual careers.

He said his journey is a testament to overcoming adversity, pursuing education despite challenges, and aspiring to make a difference in the fields of biomedical sciences and law.

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