My story represents the plight of millions of the world’s children growing up in the world’s toughest situations. It is one of a young Karimojong girl, a prospective Medical Doctor from Lokupoi village, Matany Sub County-Napak District, who has not yet lost hope. A first born of five children, I grew up with all my parents living together, but practically in a female headed household.
When I was five years, my father got a mental illness. That was the last time I experienced the love of a father. Because of his mental state, he became hostile, and always threatened to kill all of us children, thus our mother always hid us away from him. For this reason, my siblings and I grew up in hiding from our father even though we live in the same household. Now the sole bread winner, with support from her children, our mother tilled her garden to realize food for the family. I sold locally made alcohol to raise money, but could never raise just enough to take our father for medical treatment. We have grown to accept and live with his condition. As a toddler, my peers used my father’s mental state to mock. That affected my self-esteem, I avoided them because any time, they would make fun of my father, and that would make me feel bad.
My primary school education in Lokupoi Primary School was punctuated by occasional absence in school, especially during seasons when the demand for local brew was high. I would take off time from schooI to sell local brew in order to support my mother raise money to meet the family’s basic needs. We could not raise enough money to sustain my follower’s scholastic materials, so he dropped out of school. He is now 18. Nonetheless, amidst a difficult childhood, a poverty stricken family, and on-and-off days at school, I finished primary school and scored 22 aggregates. After weeks of selling local’ brew without realizing enough money, one day, I become bold and approached a nun by the names of Sr. Rosaria in Matany Catholic Mission and pleaded for support towards my education. I was lucky, she accepted, but on condition that I repeated P7 to increase my chances of getting good grades. She enrolled me in boarding school at Municipal Primary school in Moroto, where I scored 11 aggregates at the end of exams. Sr.Rosaria took me to St. Mary’s college Aboke Girls Secondary School in Apac District, and I scored 17 aggregates in the 2013 Uganda Certificate of Education examination.
I knew that this performance would impress my sponsor, but my excitement was short lived, when I was told the scholarship had come to an end. What hurts me most is that my mother who has never gone to school does not understand the joy in my performance even though I have explained to her. She does not know what I mean when I tell her I passed with distinctions.
Since there was no hope in resuming school, I continued to stay home with only 60,000shs that I raised from the sale of local brew during school holidays. It was on March 24, 2014, that I received a call from Mr. Chuna Moses, the CAO of Napak District that a lady by the names of Juliana Amal-Obonyo had heard about me, and had volunteered to mobilize funding for me. She wanted copies of my results. I rushed to Matany Hospital and pleaded for my results to be scanned and e-mailed to her. Two days later, she called to say she had secured admissions for me in Nabisunsa Girls Secondary School to study Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics and Computer Studies – subjects that will enable me pursue my dream career in human medicine! She said she was mobilizing funds from well-wishers for my tuition for first term, while she consults with others to look for sustainable ways to support me complete A level education. On March 26, she called and asked me to travel to Kampala to come and report to school. I could not believe this since I did not know her or even heard about her. I was excited because I had never imagined myself studying in a Kampala school, much less a top school like Nabisunsa! Most of all, I was so worried because I had heard stories of people who lure-young vulnerable girls to prostitution or subjected them to human trafficking.
Because I was desperate, I took a leap of faith, ventured into the unknown, and took the bus to Kampala the same day at 10:00PM. She advised me to use part of the UGX 60,OOO to pay for bus fares. On the bus, many questions ran through my mind: Who is this this lady, where does she come from, what does she do? Where will she get the money to pay for my fees? Can I trust her? When I arrived, she came with two young men, in their twenties to pick me up. I was so suspicious, but as we interacted, I realized that the boys were her brothers. It is now one week since I have been with Juliana and her brothers. Juliana has already mobilized 1,560,000shs from well-wishers, but advised that it might be a waste of money to send me to school only two weeks to term closure. She has since spoken to Nabisunsa SS administration, and explained the difficulties I am’ facing, and asked them to keep my place for next term. Fortunately, they have accepted.
I am not worried that I have missed all classes in first term because Juliana has already got the school, and bought for me all the required text books for my subject combinations so that I can do home study to catch up with what I missed this term. She has offered to let me stay at her house in the meantime. Her brother, a graduate of Computer Science is already teaching me in Computer Studies, and Math. I am so excited to a computer for the first time. While I am sure that I will be in school next term, I do not know for how long this excitement will last, and whether I will complete my A level education. I need sustainable financial help in order to stop worrying about school fees, and focus my mind on my education. Although my dream is to become a doctor, I realize if no one can support me financially, I will never realize it. But I have not yet lost hope. I am determined, and I know that I will make it, even if it takes a long time!