Chapter 2 –
Over the past eleven years we have helped quite a few young people, all coming from the poorest backgrounds, and seen them growing up and progressing through school, some onto college and university and even starting up small businesses, only because we have given them each the opportunity of a good education they would otherwise never had the chance of gaining.
As well as Nico we are still supporting two others. Paul, a young man who my friend Godfrey found alone, hungry and not going to school, in 2008. Paul has progressed so much that last month, now 21, he headed off to university to study for a diploma in Clinical Medicine and Community Health. Amazing!
It has never been easy for Paul, an ‘orphan’ boy from an outlying village where poverty is the norm, attending schools where most of his classmates were from better off families, relatively speaking, and away from his local community. But each time he was challenged his determination and inner strength led him down the right road to success. He really WANTED an education! Now Paul has an even bigger challenge taking him to Ishaka over 400k away from everything he knows, where he will have to make his own decisions just like our young students here in the UK have to do but to a bigger extent as he does not have family to help him on his way and knew no-one who had been to uni to give him advice either. Also life in a big town compared to his rural village will be very new to him! But if I know Paul he will rise to the occasion. Actually I heard from Paul recently to say he was working hard with assignments and research and really enjoying the practical side. He said ‘It was some how fun for me as I did the extraction of blood from the person’s vein for the first time. And I did perform that on my fellow student. It was all excitement for me’! That made me smile! I wonder how the fellow student was feeling?
The other student we support is Paul’s young stepbrother Emma (Emmanuel) who we started supporting just three years ago when he was maybe 11 or 12 years old (many children in Uganda do not know their actual ages!). Like Paul, Emma’s previous education was of a very low standard and he spent most of his time just hanging around the village with no prospect of employment when he grew up. Emma’s report showed low grades for the first few terms at his new school called Happy Days Nursery & Primary School, mainly because of his lack of English, then during the long Uganda school holiday from the end of November 2018 to the start of February this year big brother Paul, who was waiting for his A Level results to enable him to start university in August, taught Emma to speak, read and write in English. Mind you Paul did report that Emma kept ‘escaping to the next village’ to play football!!
English in Uganda is essential in education because all books etc are written in the language and all modern business is conducted in English. Uganda has many tribal languages but they often cannot communicate with those outside the tribe or district and very few words are written down in the tribal languages. So English is the main language along with the East African language of Swahili which is also taught in schools.
Anyway, since Paul worked with Emma his results have shot up in all subjects! Emma is so proud of his achievement and most importantly he is happy at school, especially as he can still play football! In fact he is known as Striker Emma because he scored the crucial goal in the end of year championship! Chapter 3 to follow