THE wife of Shine FM founder Nathan Asiimwe has spoken of her heartfelt gratitude to the people of Banbridge and beyond for their support as she prepares for a court appearance to plea for her sister-in-law to be allowed access to the UK to visit the popular father-of-three’s grave.
Annmarie Asiimwe said she was shocked and saddened to learn that Nathan’s sister Florah Kampairwe had been refused a visa to visit Nathan’s grave from Uganda for the first time since his death on St Stephen’s Day last year.
Nathan, who had battled cancer and was aged in his late 50s at the time of his death, was said to be like a father to Florah when they grew up in war-torn Uganda.
The two had last seen each other just under a year before Nathan passed away, and Annmarie said not being able to visit his grave has been very difficult for Florah.
Annmarie will travel to Belfast on November 7 to act as a witness in the appeal for Florah’s visa to be approved.
The mum of Grace, Joy and Hope, said the visit is “an essential part of the grieving process for Florah” and added that the visit would allow a long-awaited memorial service for Nathan to be organised.
Annmarie said the visa had been denied on a number of grounds including those that Florah did not have enough social and economic ties to Uganda - but added that her sister-in-law has 11 children as well as a small business making and selling clothes in Uganda.
“She is not coming here to skip her visa - she simply wants to visit her beloved brother’s grave and spend sometime with his family.”
In a plea for support Annmarie said, “I would really appreciate your prayers over the next few days as I prepare my witness statement and all the documents to be relied upon at the hearing, that I will present the best case possible and God will give Florah favour to be granted the visa.”
The family - well-known in Banbridge for their religious work - has since been inundated with words of support from many across the community.
Nathan, who moved to Banbridge around 17 years ago, and subsequently met and married his Limerick-born wife, worked with the Ywam religious movement and devoted his life to spreading the word of God.
Although he left Uganda to undertake discipleship training, Nathan kept close links with his native country and had met and stayed with the country’s President on his travels home. The Irish Consul to Uganda attended Nathan’s funeral.
Annmarie, who has visited Nathan’s family in Uganda, said she had always been shown great hospitality there, and added that it was unfortunate the same is not currently being shown to Nathan’s sister.