Moses Ssekabira Testifies about Scholarships given for his Educational Journey
Recently our East Africa team had a discussion planning how to support the 24 children that we provide school fees for each year. Moses Ssekabira was present at the meeting and was overcome with emotion as he thanked the team for doing this for his own education. He was more than excited to be able to testify to his experience here on the blog.
I did not start school till until I was six years old. Other children my age started when they were three or four years old, but my parents say that I was so sick that a school environment would not favor me. So, I started kindergarten at the age of six and after two years of it, I started primary level. From my kindergarten to third year of my primary school, my parents were able to pay for my school fees but they weren’t able to pay for my lunch because it wasn’t only me in school, but also my six other siblings. For my parents, the goal was to afford school fees. It wasn’t something that they enjoyed, their children being hungry, but they had no other way to provide for us.
So sometimes, once or twice a week, our parents were able to give each child 100 shillings, which is about a penny, to buy a lunch, but that would be just a little bit of food. I would only get that only once a or twice a week. In primary level there are 7 years that a student has to go through before he or she goes to secondary (or “high school”). From primary four to seven, that was when things went so badly for my family. My parents were not able to pay for our school fees. You might wonder, if that was the case, why did they not move their children to a cheaper school? But New Lwoga Primary School at the time was the only school close to my home that offered quality, standardized education.
At this time, we weren’t only not able to get lunch, but we struggled to have enough for school at all, despite my parents wanting desperately for us to be educated. A friend of our family, Josephine, also taught at that school. She intervened for me and pointed out to the administration how gifted my sisters and I were at music, something that was important to the school. A program called “Music, Dance and Drummer” became a way that the school could not send us away for not paying tuition, since they didn’t want to lose my two sisters and me in light of competitions. Although that did not take away the debt, it became a way for us to stay in school.
Music competitions were not a sustainable solution to our problem. My two sisters finished primary level before me, leaving me with three full years to finish. In primary six, while doing the final exam that would promote me to the next class, I was pulled out of the class to go get tuition. I ended up repeating the class because I could not pay the debt. But God was faithful in that I finished the last three years of Primary level, although the debt was not yet paid for. It was a consistent struggle throughout my years in school.
The last four years of primary were very difficult, because you didn’t not know how the day is going to go without lunch--if God would provide, hoping maybe a friend would share with you if he or she had brought for lunch. Sometimes I would go the whole week without lunch and other times I would go days without it. The last two years of my schooling, I used to feel nausea during in the middle of the day. I remember telling my mom about it. She become so emotional and her response was, “soon it’s gonna be okay.” She did not want to tell me that she was not capable of providing, because she knew what the cause was. Later after some time, she told me that I was nauseous because I was hungry, because my body needed something to eat.
In 2007, I was able to finish my primary level and then go to secondary (high school) in the beginning of year 2009. In Uganda, high school has six years, separated into two levels. Ordinary Level has four years and that Advanced level takes two years. This means that a students can decide to attend only four years and then branch to trade school. For me, I only needed to attend these years so that I could branch to trade school and learn a skill. I wouldn’t have made the achievement I did if it was not for sponsorship from Global Outreach Developments International.
I started my first year in secondary in a small school. The school was called Lukole Senior Secondary. In Uganda, tuition is not free, but the government was starting free tuition in the class behind me. When I heard about this scholarship, I decided to remain out of school and wait to start again with the class behind me and receive free tuition.
That was when G.O.D. Int’l, hearing that I was not going to school, was sensitive to my situation. This was 2009; because of their hearts sensitive to provide empowerment to those that the world thought were doomed, they reached out to me and my family. They said, okay, since you have you are going to be having free education from the government, we will provide to you with lunch, (the government did not provide lunch it was only tuition). So G.O.D. Int’l provided lunch for me and my two sisters, Deborah and Milly, who by then, were finishing their ‘Ordinary Level’ (which is the end of high school for those not planning to go to college.)
By then, my sisters needed to finish Ordinary level (called O level), but because their debt was not paid from primary school, there were complications. They needed to have their results from Primary school exams to register to do their exit exams. G.O.D. Int’l came up and paid for 5 years of tuition debt for three of us that my family could not afford to pay so that my sisters could be able to sit for their exit exams. They were able to sit for their exit exams and my sister Debbie was continuously helped throughout her high school. My sister was one of the best students in her class, and she received a scholarship to a school which had an advanced level. The school was only able to help her for one year out of two. G.O.D. then made some room to help her through the next level of secondary. From there, she became a teacher.
Although I had a scholarship from the government, G.O.D. did not stop providing lunch— they went ahead and checked on how I was doing in my classes and checking on my performance, attendance, and in addition to that, checking on the school’s impact on my empowerment. When schools get government scholarship in Uganda, teachers in the schools have to take on side jobs for them to be able to provide for their families. That means that their attendance in school is going to reduce almost by 50%. This would cause their student’s performance to lag a lot. There were days when I would go to school and there would be no teacher available because he had to work another job. All of this happens because sometimes the government is not able to provide full salaries for the teachers. Or they will pay the salary three to four months late. That greatly affected students’ performance in school.
After overviewing the school I was studying in, it was clear that I was not going to pass because of how I was negatively affected by the school. G.O.D. decided to provide for me to move to another private secondary school, by paying for my tuition and providing lunch and school uniforms. In this school, that’s when I realized that I was very behind in all of my classes. I was left with one and a half years to sit for my exit exams. I thank God that G.O.D. Int’l worked with me and the school to ensure that I passed. This consisted of making sure that I was healthy, provided with necessary tools for school. Peter who was the supervisor of my performance, constantly visited the school to make sure that I was doing well.
I was able to finish secondary in the year 2012 with good grades, all due to the G.O.D. community sacrificing so that they can have a room for me so that I can have education that is not only going to benefit me, but also having this opportunity that I can also be a benefit to those who were like me.
In 2013, I started my trade school. After having a conversation with Gregg Garner about gaining a skill that I could learn, based on my experience and how how it would benefit others, we sat together and reviewed my history and talked about the future. Growing up, my family never had electricity. Which was really a challenge to everyone. We used fuel candles, whose fumes were harmful for our health. It was always a challenge for us whenever we wanted to read or do homework at home, it was hard because using the candle was “first come, first serve” or sometimes we would only have enough fuel to light the candle for a few hours at night. So reading and doing homework was a challenge because of insufficient lighting in the house.
I started the trade school where I pursued electrical installation. This training took two years. Within those two years, I enjoyed school. I had no pressure of being behind, all my tuition and lunch, had been provided through G.O.D. I was able to settle, focus and study. At the end of two years in 2014, I came out with the best grades that I have ever earned in school. I was one of the best performers in the school at the end of my course.
I am so thankful for work that G.O.D. did in my life. They gave an opportunity to education, and not just the opportunity to go to school (because anyone can go to school), but they put all their effort into sustaining me by empowering me with skills and an education. I am now twenty-seven years old, married and expecting a child. God has been faithful to me because of people of faith who listened to his voice and and made a decision that in all that they want to do, to become, they can let it go and make room for those that seemed to have no place in the world so that they can also have a place. I was one of those.
Thank you to all those who make our educational sponsorships happen! This was not a 'plug,' it was real and genuine and had to be shared. By supporting children, you're literally changing a life. Thank you.