1. NANKABIRWA RUTH, 14 – Primary 7
“I’ve always had strong admiration for lawyers. I like how smartly they dress and how confidently they carry themselves. I also love them because they help defend innocent people against bad men. My teachers say I have to work hard if I want to be a lawyer. I try my best to work hard but some subjects like math and science are difficult.
Early this year, my friends and I were sent home because of Covid-19, we had only spent about six weeks in primary seven, we were sure we would be sitting our Primary Leaving Exams in November 2020. We returned to school in October but the restart of school has been difficult. My father who had been struggling to pay my fees before Covid-19 is finding it even harder to pay my school fees. I worry whether I will be able to sit my final exams. I’ll need a miracle to happen for the fees to get paid. I have lived with my grandmother for as long as I can remember. She doesn’t have enough to pay my fees and I know she would if she could, but she sadly is unable because she fell upon hard financial times about two years ago and that is when father started sending help our way.”
(We were able to talk to Ruth’s grandmother Nakalanzi Aisha, to introduce the foundation and seek her consent on the Foundation’s attempt at finding aid for Ruth.)
Ruth’s grandmother says that Ruth’s father left the girl under her care because he found himself incapable of providing for her.
Ruth’s Head teacher Ms. Sserwanga Lydia speaks highly of her. She had this to say of Ruth: “Ruth is an assertive girl who speaks up for herself when circumstances demand so. She’s helpful to both her classmates and teachers. She’s cheeky as any child could be but reliably knows which lines not to cross. Despite her struggles, she shows remarkable resilience for a girl her age.
The head teacher is honest about Ruth’s academic standing. She considers Ruth an average performer who shows a remarkable interest in studying. The head teacher is alive to Ruth’s tuition challenges. She says she’s seen Nankabirwa’s father once and from what she gathers, he’s a Bodaboda rider in Kampala. She adds that he occasionally sends small monies like UGX. =20.000= (Uganda Shillings Twenty Thousand Only) and follows such contributions with requests to the school administrators to allow his daughter in school.
2. DDAMBA EMMANUEL, 16 – Primary 7
“My dream is to become a doctor. The most difficult thing about school is having different classmates for nearly every year without changing schools. I often miss school because of unpaid school fees. My parents both don’t have enough money to consistently pay my school fees. I have as a result found myself repeating classes.”
When we spoke to Ddamba’s mother (Nansubuga Betty), she revealed to us her family’s struggles. She revealed she is a mother to five children. Ddamba is her second child, her first child, unfortunately, dropped out of school in his second year of secondary school because the family was simply unable to raise his tuition.
“I sometimes worry when I think about my son, Ddamba’s dreams. I have constantly asked God to help him achieve his dreams. I have never stopped hoping for only good things for him. I am grateful for how far he has gone, it has not been easy but that Ddamba boy moves about with God’s blessings. COVID has been harsh on us. Before it struck I was working as a cleaner at one of the neighbourhood sports betting houses. I stopped working because world sports had been halted and this affected business too.” She added.
“My husband is a builder which means he only works when there are active building sites, on most days though; he’s forced to stay home. A couple of weeks ago, he baked a few clay bricks which he sold to raise money for our rent arrears. Rent obviously is a more pressing need because it doesn’t make sense to keep the child in school yet he has nowhere to stay.” The emotional mother narrates.
Ddamba’s mother revealed to us that she had fervently appealed to the headmistress where Ddamba goes to school to exercise leniency and patience. We discovered that Ddamba owes the school UGX. =300,000= (Uganda Shillings Three Hundred Thousand Only), exclusive of this term’s fees (UGX. =200.000=). She adds that the headmistress is a very patient lady but would understand why her patience is running thin with them over the unpaid school dues.
Ddamba’s father, Steven Kisuze was receptive to the Foundation’s modest attempt at redeeming Ddamba’s academic dreams. “There is no way I can refuse because if I had gone further with my education, I would not be mixing concrete or baking bricks, please you have my full permission to help him.”
Ddamba’s headmistress had only positives to say of him.
“Ddamba is a punctual student who uses every opportunity at school to study. He, unfortunately, misses school because the school survives on fees collection and we are forced to send pupil’s like Ddamba home when we run low on funds. Ddamba is trustworthy, responsible and quite likeable. Ddamba struggles academically but the failure to pay school fees makes it harder for him in school.
There’s a time when I summoned parents who had not collected their children’s report cards for the past 5 years (due to failure to pay up their children’s tuition), and of course Ddamba’s parents were amongst those.
The introduction of the Foundation’s interest in catering for Ddamba’s tuition left the teenager overjoyed beyond count that he promised to buy me chicken, an ambitious promise I think but one I do understand. He had never had his tuition paid fully.”
The Headmistress’ general remarks: We as administrators and indeed as teachers have never had anyone coming to the school to pay full tuition for any of the kids. We have heard of people doing such for the underprivileged but we had never witnessed it in our school. We are grateful for your acts of kindness.