“[He] was a younger boy of about 9 years old called Denis Olanya, who wore his shirt over his head like a shawl. When we placed him in the wash line prior to feeding he baulked at having to remove his covering. But I insisted, so he tentatively took off his shirt revealing weeping flyblown sores all over his scalp. The smell was overpowering. With gritted teeth, I soaped him all over, rinsed him and applied tea tree ointment to his head, then topped him off with a cap. This little boy no longer stooped over like the hunchback of Notre Dame. He walked proudly, upright – his cap proclaiming, “ZOO KEEPER – Taronga Park”- Mama Irene.
Denis recalls studying with Irene under a mango tree, then a grass roof assembly hall, and finally in classrooms. Denis was the top student of the very first class of IGF students. IGF sponsored him to secondary school and University through its sponsorship program, and when he was finished with his studies Denis returned to IGF to give his life to serve others. Denis has been taken from poverty and tragedy, and because of the support of people like you, he is achieving his full potential.
When Denis returned from school, he knew he wanted to serve IGF. With a degree in business, Denis became the founding head of the business school at IGF’s Technical Institute. He wanted to help “teach others to be productive and better their community through business.” In 2015, Denis helped to establish Kitgum’s first accredited business institute, with IGF’s Kitgum Business Institute expanding from a department in the Technical Institute to a separate institute offering nationally accredited Certificate and Diploma business courses. Business is something that Denis has a passion for, as he also operates a private shop in Kitgum town.
Due to years of Irene’s Christian teachings, Denis is a man of deep faith, and he serves as the youth pastor for IGF’s Community Church. He has a heart for seeing youth empowered and transformed for the gospel of Christ. Some of the vibrant programs he overseas are youth drama troupes, dance crews, bible studies and a regional Christian youth forum. Denis also spent many years as a presenter on Mighty Fire FM.
Beyond all of his professional success, Denis has a blessed personal life. Denis and his wife, Irene, are blessed to have three sons and a daughter. Their family lives on site in IGF staff quarters and is always around to lend a helping hand. Denis is an IGF son and his family is an IGF family in every sense – Denis’s family gets their water from IGF wells, go to IGF health facilities when they are sick, and his children attend IGF schools.
Denis is now a part of ensuring the second generation of IGF children has the same success and opportunities that he had. IGF’s multi-faceted approach has empowered Denis to reach his full potential, and now he serves to give that same gift to others.
“Thank the donors for the heart of giving towards IGF. You have seen many youth reach their full potential. We encourage you to continue with the same spirit. We are praying for you that God would bless the work of their hands and every good work you are doing. We are able to see the future because of you. Even with Mama Irene gone, we are grateful that you have endeavored to continue the work. We always love to see you and have you come visit!” – Denis Olanya.