It was a Thursday evening like any other, I walk into Worship Harvest Naalya for Music Team rehearsal and I am introduced to a new member who wanted to join the music team. I said hello, asked about her music background and what voice she sang. She seemed withdrawn, wanting to be in her corner but oh, was I mistaken. This discovery was made when a one Dennis (commonly known as Deno) showed up and this missy became very bubbly. I knew I liked her. She had a force, a good force with and in her and I liked it.

A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24)

This is what I can say of Penelope Sanyu. She is a woman who has friends because she is very friendly herself. She is that person you call and are sure will come through for you.

In 2016, while I lay in hospital at IHK oblivious of what was going on, she had rushed back to Uganda from Nairobi, Kenya where she had gone for a meeting. She didn’t even wait to drop off her luggage at home, straight from the airport she headed to IHK to see me. She had made several calls the day of the accident to find out where exactly we were in Mbarara, called all her friends and tried to get us help. That is the Penny I am talking about. At IHK, she tried to get me to speak even when I clearly couldn’t. She made it her life’s mission to cheer me up, holding my hand throughout, rubbing it, ensuring that I was comfortable and had everything I needed. She shopped all the things a girl needs during an emergency including ear buds and puff holders. I was humbled by her acts of service towards me, the genuine care and love she showed me. She became my bodyguard all the time I was in hospital, spending days with me from morning to sunset. Simone de Beauvoir once said, “That is what I consider true generosity, you give your all and yet you always feel as if it costs you nothing.” With Penny, giving is what she knows to do to express love and I learnt it during that period.

Have you ever had someone who believes in you more than you do in yourself at times? Well, I know quite some but today I am focusing on this phenomenal lady. Some call her mother, others sister, and others friend. She is so many things to many people and everyone calls her friend because she is a friend who will not cower to tell you when you have blown it, when you are being fake or when you sell yourself short. Penny believes in people and will go to lengths to walk a journey with you so that you can see greatness in yourself. Several times when am being tough on myself or when am doubting myself, she is one of those few people who will speak to me and I will believe what she says because I know that she doesn’t fake it nor will she sugarcoat what she is saying. She will throw a challenge at me and she will expect me to accomplish it no matter what because she knows that I can. She has on several occasions asked me to do HR work in areas that I don’t usually work on and I have had to spend sleepless nights reading and researching and surprisingly, I have delivered.

When you ask me about a fearless influencer, Penny has been that fearless influencer that I know will take a bullet for the ostracized people in society. She has demonstrated, been to prison, walked dangerous roads and even gotten into some serious fights only to ensure the voice of the voiceless is heard. I had a chance of working with Penny on a consultancy level for a period of 6 months and listening to her speak about what keeps her awake at night, what makes her blood boil, what drives her and what makes her work all night made me understand what purpose is about. She knows why God has placed her on earth and she won’t sleep until she achieves it.

If you haven’t met someone who will give up her all for the well-being of others, someone who will smile amidst tears, who will laugh heartily, someone who will love genuinely, someone who will go an extra mile, then allow me to introduce you to Penelope Sanyu.

If I have learnt something from Penny it’s to be selfless, to stretch myself, to never give up on my dream and above all to love and love some more.

Penny, as you celebrate your birthday today, know that you are leaving footprints in the sand for others to follow. Know that as you go about doing life the way you do, you are causing change in society and many are watching and following. May today be the beginning of greater and better opportunities for you.

By Evelyn Nuwagaba 


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