She worked as a housemaid, made bricks, dug up people?s gardens, begged her way around, did neighbour’s laundry, all to save up for an education.

Ms Edith Nakawesi
Ms Edith Nakawesi

Now this determined and gutsy 23-year-old?s efforts are about to pay off. She will be graduating with a Bachelor?s degree in Business Administration in October from Uganda Christian University, Mukono.

A popular inspirational quote, goes, ?The Road to Success is not straight: There is a curve called failure, a loop called confusion, speed bumps called friends, caution lights called family, and you will have flats called jobs?.

This saying sums up 23-year-old Edith Nakawesi?s journey from humble beginnings to Uganda Christian University.

Born in a family of nine where she is the fourth, Nakawesi?s parents used to live in Mukono as squatters. She says the landlord asked for rent but they could not afford it. They decided to return to Masaka.

A family friend convinced her parents to let Nakawesi leave Masaka to stay with her in Kampala and work as her housemaid, promising her a monthly wage of $40.

She says she never saw that money, which made her start making bricks and wash other neighbour?s clothes when her boss went to work.

She earned $0.80 per day from making bricks and between $1.17 and $1.97 for washing the clothes.


Missed school

She saved the money to top up what her parents occasionally sent her for her school fees. She continued her work as a maid for the free shelter and food, but it meant missing school sometimes because of the domestic chores.

She did her primary school in St. Aloysius Primary School in Nansana. For her Senior Four, she went to Alliance High School, also in Nansana, skipping Senior Three to sit for the Uganda Certificate of Education exams, where she scored a second grade.

?For my A-Levels, I joined St. Augustine in Wakiso. I explained to the Director of Studies that I would be on and off from school because of school fees. I kept looking for bursaries but I never got any,? she recounts.

With tears occasionally flowing down her face, Nakawesi remembers how the one month grace period schools give students to pay fees became the only time she stepped in class, before she was eventually sent away for fees.

Then, she went to make bricks and dig in people?s gardens or wash clothes.

?In senior six, I begged fellow students to contribute money for me to attend seminars. They paid for my mock examinations. I would wait for them to come out of school in the evening to borrow their notes. I remember teachers caning me for not having study notes,? she narrates.


Refused to leave

She scored 17 points at A-Level , but did not know where to get fees for a tertiary institution or University.

?I remember one time asking a friend for Shs100 ($0.03) and she told me to get a boyfriend, but I was already stressed and did not want any boyfriend.?

She explains that it was the time she was introduced to the Child Health Advocacy Initiative Network (Chain). When she presented her case to the school authorities, they did not believe she was that needy.

Besides, they had closed receiving applications for assistance. Nakawesi narrates that she refused to leave the school premises.

?I camped at the school for three days at the stairway of the administration block until management became concerned,? she recounts.

Charles Kintu Mwanje, the Chain project officer in charge of orphans and vulnerable children, recalls that they did a background check and found that Nakawesi was indeed needy.

Nakawesi was placed in a computer training school in Mukono town and when she graduated, she was given a job as an Internet Caf? attendant in Reste Gardens in Bweyogere, Bishop Nkoyoyo?s family business, where management liked her commitment to work.

When there were scholarships, Chain selected her as a beneficiary. She was enrolled at Uganda Christian University for a Bachelor of Business Administration degree.

Come October, Nakawesi will be graduating, but her dream is to become an auditor. Such is a story of a little girl who kept focus on her goal for life amid an environment where several distractions today cannot allow the girl child to make personal decisions.


Source:?STEPHEN OTAGE in Kampala


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