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Dorah Dunigan Wanyana: HIV Researcher-in-Training

Published on 10/03/2017

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.

with my dad

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.

Giving out medicine

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?
I 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

Connect with Dorah Dunigan Wanyana
Email: dorahdunigan94@gmail.com

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. 

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  1. Paula Kiger

    What an incredible story! Thanks for sharing it.

    • Carla

      I have just met Dorah Dunigan yesterday…for the first time. But, I have followed her journey and SUCCESS for years. I am Dr. Nathaniel Dunigan’s aunty, and here at AidChild Leadership Institute they call me, Aunty.

      Every word Dorah chose to answer in this interview is TRUTH! Also, she inspires me as an older person to keep giving my best.

      Cheers, Dorah! ONWARD!

    • Dorah Dunigan

      Thank you so much Paula. Am happy you loved it, thanks alot.

  2. Joanne

    Dorah is a beautiful girl. She expresses herself in such a lovely way. I know you will be a success in your future.

    • Muyunga Brian

      The Lord has chosen you for this generation and for a purpose. You are an angel!

  3. Roberta Livesay

    Dora, you are beautiful on the inside and on the outside. You are a woman whom God can use to accomplish many good things in your lifetime. Stay focused and walk in faith. I am eager to see what you will do!

    • Dorah Dunigan

      Thank you so much for your wonderful comment Roberta, am honored by it. Thanks alot

    • Muyunga Brian

      The Lord has chosen you for this generation and for a purpose. You are an angel!

  4. Gail Kavanaugh

    I remember Dorah from when she was very young, and became another of the many children AidChild rescued. Nathaniel and his team have seen in Dorah the result of caring, compassion, and “never giving up” attitude shown by their mission. May God continue to bless Dorah and AidChild.

    • Dorah Dunigan

      Thank you kindly, Gail. Hope I get to see you again soon. Am blessed by your words dear.

  5. Noe Nakityo

    Am inspired by every detail of your beautiful life. You have been a formidable force in our lives as a family. Every email to me just gives me reasons to fight harder and become more optimistic about life.
    You will forever be in our lives and the world will one day lean on your purpose to change and make it a better place to live. I wish the whole world had a chance to experience your virtues.
    Love you daughter

    • Dorah Dunigan

      Mummy, thank you so much. I am as well inspired by you. You are such a great woman, thank you for your guidance and counseling. Love you tones..

  6. Mbabazi Ronald Aziz

    Dear sister, for sure you an inspiration to us all. From the day we met at the AidChild Leadership Institute( former AidChild Masaka), to-date as we grew up. Your point of view is always positive. Thank you for the spirit please keep it up. Much love bro.

  7. Diana Ritah Asiimwe

    Am greatly inspired. Dorah is a real definition of beauty with a purpose.


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