Feature: BRI brings hearts of Ugandan, Chinese young people closer
The China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is famous for its infrastructure construction, but it has also subtly enhanced exchanges between people of different backgrounds.
On the scenic shores of River Nile, the world's longest river, a Chinese construction technician and a Ugandan teacher found love, and their love has bared fruit, baby Kyle.
Baby Kyle, born on Aug. 11, is a new generation of children that signifies the people-to-people relations between China and Africa, brought forward by the BRI.
Announced in 2013 by China, the BRI, aims to build trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa. The initiative comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.
In Uganda, the Chinese-constructed Isimba Hydro Power Plant, a 566-million-U.S. dollar project by Sinohydro Corporation Ltd., is one of the key BRI energy infrastructure projects in the east African country.
During the construction of the 183 megawatts power plant, Betty Nabukeera, a local teacher, and Liu Qi, a Chinese construction technician at Sinohydro fell in love.
In their house, the excitement about their new baby is visible, as Nabukeera carries the baby, Liu is preparing milk in the kitchen. Liu also cooks for his young family whenever Nabukeera is not able.
In November last year, Liu and Nabukeera held a wedding ceremony.
Before the wedding, Liu had to fulfil the traditional practice of paying dowry to Nabukeera's family before he was allowed to proceed to the wedding ceremony.
Liu told Xinhua in a recent interview that he gladly paid the dowry because he was determined to marry his love, Nabukeera.
Five years before their marriage, Nabukeera and Liu met at a roadside, as Liu was supervising construction works on a road leading to the power plant. They exchanged pleasantries and telephone numbers promising to keep in touch.
"I wanted to learn English, so I asked her to buy me a local sixth grade English textbook, and then I often sent the pictures (in the book) to ask her how to read and what do they mean. Later, after around three months, my English level improved very much," Liu said.
Through continued interactions, they developed feelings for each other.
When Liu communicated to his parents back in Xiantao of China's Hubei Province about his love, her mother was a bit upset.
Liu's parents disagreed at first, concerning about cultural background, which made himself questioning the relationship with Nabukeera.
"At that time, I also wanted to give up. I told Nabukeera, I will support you, so you can leave me. She flatly refused, and told me she was serious," Liu recalled and occasionally smiled at Nabukeera.
In 2016, Liu got life-threatening Malaria.
"She often called me and asked about my condition. Sometimes, she would call friends to bring me food, such as fish, jackfruit, and bananas. Sometimes she came to visit me too," Liu said.
Liu returned to China for vacation in 2018.
"I felt like I had lost something. I wanted to go back to Uganda. I had a showdown with my family and said that I must go back to find her."
When Liu returned to Uganda, the first thing he did was to enroll Nabukeera at the Confucius Institute at Makerere University. To help Nabukeera pass the Chinese language test, Liu taught her for one hour every day.
Nabukeera successfully passed the Chinese level-three test, and she can now use Chinese for simple communication.
Since then, Liu's parents started to change their attitude and occasionally have a video chat with their future daughter-in-law.
"We miss you, when will you come to China?" Nabukeera said that is what her future parents-in-law often ask.
She said her parents told her that as long as she is happy with the relationship, they would not stop her.
Nabukeera has since got a job at Sinohydro and is responsible for coordination and communication with the communities in the neighborhood of the power plant. Liu has also been promoted to a technical professional. Enditem