Down the Isle

Down the Isle

Written by Mercy Kangwato, HHF-L Alumnus

In case you’re a huge fan of my writing and/or storytelling, you would know how huge (and super emotional) this moment was not just for me but for these two and the many beneficiaries of their benevolence that were present in huge numbers on this day. Numerous times, I’ve shared our connection on this blog ( and talked about them to anyone and everyone who attempted to ask;

“So, what’s your story really – Khaleesi?”


I binge watched all 8 seasons of Game of Thrones and have since held onto that name, ‘Khaleesi’ because who wouldn’t want to have dragons for children though? In any case you can’t relate, replace the name with Mercy, still sounds cute I guess?.


Growing up under their care, they did the best that they could, with what they had at their disposal to give all the 170+ kids at (Hanne Howard Fund – Lenana) a better life with strong hope that we’d all get a good landing at life. Life’s uncertain and unexpected tides that one time rise and other times steadily fall without warning didn’t allow for all to get the good landing they so dearly desired for us. I can mention a ton of us who currently have a good bearing and a handful whose choices didn’t present them the same outcome as it did the greater number.

-HHF-L family at my wedding

30th April 2022 is a day like no other. I was the girl of the moment, surrounded by my siblings from HHF-L and my folks from the village. To either side of me, were the people I have lived to owe my life to – Mama Hanne and Baba Ted. The two were walking me down the isle to witness as I take my wedding vows to the love of my life, Austine.

As we were walking hand in hand, countless memories came to mind; memories that kept me going in my journey to self sustenance post life at HHFL. I remembered the times when they’d occasionally come visit my sister and I in high school on Visiting Days which led most students to think that we had white parents and that we were filthy rich ?. Since it was too tasking to explain the whole story to the vocally curious cats, we just played along and said “YEAAAH, we have white parents, it’s the genes that played some tricks … but life is all that matters, right?” 

I was also taken back to the ‘Current Affairs’ classes that Papa Tango (Mr. Ted Horton) used to facilitate back in the day. Here’s how he’d facilitate the classes: He’d come with the day’s newspaper, select a manageable number of us (high schoolers), sit us at our open dining hall and share sections of the newspaper with each person. We would then each go through the section assigned, read, understand then explain to the rest of the team what you thought the sections meant and give your personal opinion – without reading it ?. 

At this point it would be better to mention our reality on the ground in those days starting with our struggle to express ourselves in English. We’d been used to ‘Sheng’ both at home and at school. We’d always round off our English to the nearest ‘Sheng’ or broken Swahili. I now understand that it’s an environment issue. There weren’t many role models to show us how important expressing ourselves in proper English was and so we’d just go with what was familiar to us. This is the gap Papa Tango noticed and with much effort, managed to bridge. This class wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea though, it was quite challenging … but little did we know how vital it would be in our future!

When I joined campus in my first semester, among my units was Communication Skills taught by one Madam Betty Ngala. In her introductory class she had everyone come to the front of the class, introduce themselves and mention a thing or two that they expected to learn from the unit. She further explained that in the course of learning there would be times when we’d each present to the class a take-home assignment. Let’s just say that after my gibberish introduction, all I wished was to have Papa Tango there with me to remind me of the dos & don’ts of public speaking.

I can never put down all the memories. Perhaps one day I’ll write a book? 

This moment remains one of my happiest. The fact that I got to share this magical moment with them is just one among many ways that I could share how grateful I am for the big and little ways they’ve impacted my life over time. I didn’t even think twice about who I wanted to walk me down the aisle. I would choose them a thousand times over!

To Mama Hanne and Baba Ted,

…because of you, I have a constant ‘fire in my belly’ and your words, “You’ve just got to be pro-active!” still runs in my mind to date. I have embraced and will continue to hold dear our motto: Disciple, Respect & Teamwork because without those, I’d not even be remotely close to where I am now.

As I put my feet into this new chapter of my life, I am confident that I have gained a lot of life hacks that will play a big part in making our marriage work, and raise a healthy family that is built on principle, trust and teamwork.

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