“I was lucky enough to have been born in a family with a mother who knew the importance of education. Beside the fact that we were very poor, she insisted that my father took us all nine girls to school. After my father’s death, everyone in the village told my mother that she should get us married because she could not afford paying for our school fees anymore. All hope vanished. I was desperate because I wanted to pursue my studies. Then I met with FAWE.” Says 4th year law student at Makerere University, Caroline Kanyago Kalogala.
“I am from a family of six, with struggling parents who could hardly make ends meet; even feeding the family was a challenge for our parents. When my father lost his job, the situation became even worse because my mother could not pay for our school fees any longer. I was really desperate when my father came home one day with a newspaper talking about FAWEU helping disadvantaged girls who wanted to study. I thought it was a miracle!” Says Jackie Kaija, a brilliant young lady who teaches mathematics and physics at Makerere University in Kampala.
“My mother was sick and could no longer do much farm work to support us. I went to stay with my aunt who was also poor and could not pay for my school fees. I thought it was the end of the story for me as far as going to school. I was desperate and did not know who to turn to anymore.” says Doreen Muhumure, now a law student who became a FAWEU beneficiary at the right moment in her life.
“My name is Hilda Thropao and I am a lawyer at the State Attorney Ministry, here in Kampala. I am one of many teenage girls in Africa who made the wrong decision of getting pregnant too early in my life. I first met with FAWEU when I was a very brilliant girl who had gotten a scholarship to attend one of the best high schools in Uganda. Then, I got pregnant. I was in grade 4 and I had to drop out of school. I lost the bursary and my parents could not afford to pay for my school fees. I was desperate. I thought of the brilliant future I had spoilt because I did not know how to better prevent a pregnancy. My life was over. Like a miracle, FAWE was following up on me and discovered that I was sinking in desperation. They took it from there and guided me until I finished my first law degree! Now, I try to help younger girls to avoid making the same mistakes I did. I hope to go for a Master's degree in Law very soon. I thank God and I thank FAWE and the donors who make it possible for many Ugandan girls to stay in school and succeed”
“I am Violet Okaba Kayom, a Medical Doctor and Teaching Assistant at Makerere Medical School, also pursuing a Master's degree in pediatrics. After emerging 4th best student in the national certification examination in Uganda, I started panicking instead of celebrating because I knew my family's situation. My father had lost his job, my mom as a primary school teacher could barely feed the 7 children we were. How I will pay for my tuition? I spent many nights silently crying and asking God to come to my rescue because I wanted to study very badly. Then the miracle happened: FAWEU came to my life and paid for my year in advanced education. I was so happy, could not believe my eyes. From then on, nothing could stop me anymore; I got a scholarship and finished my first degree. Then I was invited to come and teach in the same university from where I got my degree. I feel like there are no more limits for me... I will keep it up and help other girls in need. ”
“I am Lamoaka Stella Laura, and I just got my Bachelor's degree in Computer Science after a lot of struggling on the way; but I made it. I met with FAWEU at a time when I thought I did not have any more hope to finish school. My father died when I was only in my S2; we were nine children on my mother’s shoulders and I was going to drop out of school because we could not pay for it. Then FAWEU not only gave me a bursaruy, but followed me all the way till graduation. They always made sure that I was going to school and provided me with support whenever necessary. I am so grateful to them. Now, I am giving back by volunteering at the FAWEU office while looking for a job. I am planning to start helping young children in need as soon as I get settled myself.”
All these girls shared one commonality: they had lost hope. They were brilliant but they had financial and social constraints that could not permit them or their families to finance their schooling. Then, they brought to FAWE, and there was hope again. FAWE could not give back hope to these girls alone. The role of FAWE is to help them get back on track and help them find solutions to fulfil their educational aspirations. Bursaries are only one aspect of this support. FAWE also provides psycho-social support to girls in difficulty. It empowers them, advocates for their education, supports them through their schooling. Thanks to the many partners and individual donors, FAWEU was able to help 2389 girls and 50 boys for the past two years.
Still despite FAWE’s work and the help of many donors like the governments of the Netherlands , Norway, Denmark, Finland, Cananda, Ireland, UN agencies such as UNICEF and UNESCO, and a host of private donors, alot remains to be done to achieve gender parity and equality in education in Africa.
F. Thiam Diallo
FAWE Communication and Advocacy Officer, Nairobi