Misfortune & Fortune Brought Me To America: Isaac Ahimbisibwe

Updated: Jul 28, 2019

Think about all the immigrants in your life. Do you know why or how they came to the USA? Has it ever occurred to you that, your neighbor, best friend, teacher, doctor, or even your barista at Starbucks may have come to the US involuntarily? While it is true that many people willingly travel to the United States for new opportunities, it is also true that some have no control over the decision to come to America. For 26-year-old Isaac Ahimbisibwe, coming to America began with a bit of misfortune and fortune. Hear what he had to say about Uganda, America, and the family that adopted him:

Isaac and his son returning home after 15 years away

A bit of misfortune and fortune brought me to America. Had I not been an orphan at such a young age, my journey would have been different. God was gracious enough to bless this young orphan with a big loving family. A family that helped nurse the hurt and confusion I faced at such a tender age. My name is Isaac Ahimbisibwe and I was born and raised in Uganda.

Four generations pictured

As a child, to me, Uganda was an adventure. It was a mix of play and scoldings I got from my mother and grandmother for my stubbornness and mischievousness. We didn’t have much — in terms of the “glow effect” in modern society, but we had it all — happiness, I mean. When I was in school, I stayed with my mother in the city, but during breaks and holidays, I spent plenty of time with my grandmother in the village. Eventually, I learned how to take the bus to my grandmother’s place. It was a means to escape the loud city life, as well as the lashes my mom would unleash on me because of my stubbornness — well I think it was just curiosity. The back and forth life between city and village sowed stitches into the fabric that makes me the person I am today. I am grateful, but my life really changed when I got adopted.

A younger Isaac pictured here

My adoption story isn’t traditional. They gave me a home, but I wasn’t legally a part of their family yet. In fact, there came a time when my family had to move to the Philippines (without me). My soul was healing and I thought I had found a family. Seeing them leave brought great sadness, but eventually they came back for me! On one sweltering hot day in boarding school, I got the news that they planned on adopting me and legally making me a member of their family. That day, I changed forever. A feeling overcame me, I was suddenly an American...well just not yet, after a few years, and lots of paperwork, it was finalized, I joined my family in Nigeria (Mom’s work). It was bittersweet though. It hurt to leave my Grandmother and Aunt behind, but I was excited to finally reunite with my family. Now, here I am. In America.

Isaac with his son at a private baptism in Uganda

America has treated me fairly well. Most of my friends here are foreign. In-fact foreigners are the ones who accepted me the most when I came to America. After-all, birds of a feather flock together. We’ve all traversed different routes to get here. Our stories collided here. I think saying America is the sole reason for my happiness would be an overstatement. Like anywhere else, It has its ups and downs. But with all the vast opportunities, I am content and I am grateful. Going back home, has always been in my heart since I left. After all, it is the country that I was born and raised in. It shaped me from birth, fueled me with curiosity, and set me off into the world. I think my hope was to one day I may come back and have something to offer that would be of value to other Ugandans. They say home is where the heart is, and surely ... Uganda is where my heart is!

- Isaac Ahimbisibwe