INCOME FROM BUSINESS HELPS PAY SCHOOL FEES FOR MY SIBLINGS
Anyidi Simon Vule, aged 23 is from Pacere Village, Ofua Subcounty, Adjumani district. He’s an orphan, living with a single mother. His dad passed on in 2009 living behind 8 children with him being the only boy.
He narrates that, “When dad died, life became very hard. We didn’t have school fees and had to directly engage in farming to raise money for fees. This affected my studies and performance so much; I could delay reporting to school for a period of two weeks due to lack of school fees. At times, I would report before paying and end-up chased away.”
My education experience has been a puzzle, full of challenges. I used to be a very bright student before ‘O’ level, I was ever the best in class. However, this changed at A- level where I performed poorly, because the school fees challenges worsened.
After Senior 6, I didn’t have any plans to further my education at either degree or diploma level as my mother couldn’t afford. “I knew I was headed nowhere as I couldn’t raise University fees.” As a result, I had planned to abandon studies and start a family (get married). Fortunately, I thank God this didn’t happen because I would be in a worse state and couldn’t be where I am today.
As I was figuring my next move, in May 2018, a friend I studied with at A’ level called and informed me about the FAWE Uganda Scholarship Opportunity. However, this information found me deep in the village. It got me without any money to travel to Gulu University and apply. I had to borrow transport funds to move there and apply for my education course.
After submitting my application at University, I filled in the FAWE Uganda Scholarship forms; I was selected, interviewed and awarded the opportunity. At this point I couldn’t wait to join University. Following my previous education challenges I must say, this was the first time ever I felt settled at school, with everything I needed provided for. This opportunity helped me a lot too, together with my family. Whatever I receive today (the little) I share it with my family and also support pay school fees for my sister now in S.4.
However, as a result of COVID 19, the Government of Uganda declared a national lock down, which involved shutting down of Schools and learning institutions across the country. Consequently, we were forced to return home pre-maturely before our semester examinations. While at home, I had much time in my hands and decided to engage in some income generating activities. I started with planting tomatoes. After a period of 3 months, I harvested, sold it and raised a total of UGX. 270,000/=. I used this money to start a small saloon at my home trading center (Kureku T/C). I added some money, from my savings and bought a battery. The other savings amounting to UGX.250, 000/= I used, it to buy a shaving machine. I had to look for another UGX. 210,000/= to purchase a solar panel, which I first got on credit and still paying for it now.
Currently the business is progressing slowly. From the time I commenced operating, I make an average of about UGX.10, 000/= per day and charge 2,000/= per head. Implying that in a month I make a total of UGX.240, 000/= and annually UGX.2, 880, 000/= and these include cost of servicing the machine, paying rent and buying lubricants.
I am currently saving the little money I make from shaving to start a bigger business like a hardware shop or selling electronic appliances; since there’s none in this centre. People here travel for a distance of 7 kilo meters to Adjumani district to buy hard ware materials including; cement and Iron sheets; I currently seeing this as an opportunity. Even the saloon, I did some research, and realized there was no saloon here, the reason I started.
I am not only doing business during this lock down, but take off time to give back to the community through teaching /coaching of some students in candidate classes (of S.4, S.6 and S.3) in secondary schools; on subjects like chemistry and physics to help them understand certain concepts. We currently conduct our lessons under trees. Besides all this, I am still continuing with the tomato farming enterprise because it greatly contributed capital for the saloon.
After finishing my course, I want to work hard, teach and there after further my studies by enrolling for master’s degree. I thank FAWEU very much for whatever they have done to me and changing my story, if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here today. I would have not continued with my education and even this business wouldn’t be here. “I would have remained in the village being called ‘a villager’, with nothing much to show. Married with children I couldn’t take care of.”
I pray for FAWEU and Mastercard foundation to continue with the good work of helping vulnerable and needy children. The need though is too much, our village has many orphans without help; parents produce many children they cannot support especially after P.7 and S.4. Many of them drop-out and remain languishing in the villages as parents are unable to pay fees. And it’s for this reason, that we have high cases of child marriage and teenage pregnancies here in the West Nile region.
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