What is your life’s purpose?
My purpose is to find a cure for HIV, a virus that has killed millions of people.
How are you living your purpose?
I am currently an intern at the AidChild Leadership Institute clinic in Entebbe, Uganda, East Africa. I supervise the patients and make sure they take their medications on time—and help them understand why this is so important.
I love interacting with patients, encouraging them to push on—even when it seems impossible. I share my own story with them, not out of self-pity but with the aim to show people struggling with disease that there is still hope.
I recently completed my certificate in Medical Laboratory Techniques from Kiwoko Health Training Institute Uganda East Africa; I am now applying to a 3-year program in Medical Laboratory Science at a medical school here in Uganda, where I will specialize in research aimed at finding a cure for HIV/AIDS. After I complete this program, I will apply to Medical School outside Uganda.
How did you find your purpose?
After our parents died of HIV/AIDS—my mother soon after my birth and my dad when I was five—they left five children behind, including me, the youngest and only one with HIV. My older sister took on my care. When I was 7, she read about a new NGO (non-governmental organization), Aid Child, that was caring for orphans living with HIV. She was poor and couldn’t afford my meals, let alone my HIV medication needs, so she gave me up to live there. That’s where I met AidChild’s founder, Dr. Nathaniel Dunigan (profiled here on Purpose Stories), 17 years ago. He would end up adopting me and becoming my dad. I admire his passion for life. He brought hope to the hopeless. He is my inspiration.
I developed a love for medicine in my youth, inspired by the doctors and nurses who cared for us at AidChild. Because of my interest, starting at age 11, the nurse in charge allowed me to help with simple tasks: I was assigned to supervise patients’ medication intake, dress simple wounds, record weights. This made me believe that I can do more. I want to save lives.
In 2014, my story was featured in an exhibition in San Diego, California called “My Sister’s Voice.” I shared my story and was told I am an inspirational speaker. As a result, I was compelled to think that as I walk my journey to finding a cure, I have to live a motivational and inspirational life.
When I was studying for my certificate in Medical Laboratory Techniques, I did a lot of public speaking and, as Chairperson of the Students’ Counsel, did some counseling of my fellow students. They seemed to love my words of advice; some even joked that I was lying about my age, that my words were bigger than my age. I feel so happy and peaceful when I know that maybe there is that one person I have inspired and motivated to go on. This is my purpose, this is why I keep going, this is my reason for living.
What advice do you have for purpose seekers?
Remember it’s not about us, it’s about others. A purposeful life is that life lived for others, creating change. Let’s offer the best of our gifts to others, and accept the same in return.
Let no circumstance stop you from living a purposeful life. Even if it seems the world is to end tomorrow, always plant that apple tree.
What resources do you recommend?
We Are Not Mahogany: Three stories about the male African life by Nathaniel Dunigan
Redemption Series by Karen Kingsbury
Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story by Ben Carson
The Pursuit of Happyness by Chris Gardner
Dorah Dunigan Wanyana is an intern at AidChild in the Leadership Institute Clinic in Entebbe, Uganda, East Africa. She is a certified Medical Laboratory Technician and an HIV-Research Specialist-in-training. Dorah has been featured in the text “My Sister’s Voice”, and was a Fellow at the Hansen Leadership Institute at the University of San Diego.