Help from our friends
Many of us are worried about the world’s problems but feel that, as individuals, we cannot make much difference. However, Humanists tend to believe that small acts of kindness, repeated many times across the globe, have the potential to make the whole world a better place. This philosophy underpins the work of the Humanist Schools in Uganda. The schools are in rural communities where families struggle to survive. Parents work hard to find money to educate their children, but often need additional help from extended family, friends and well-wishers in other countries. The Humanist schools do their best to keep bright, hard-working children in school. UHST supporters in Britain, the USA and elsewhere in the world help by providing scholarships for some of the neediest children, such as orphans and those with a struggling single parent.
The difference that education makes was demonstrated at Mustard Seed Humanist School this week. The school held a small party to celebrate the graduation from Kampala University of two former students who are now teaching at the school. Hellen Namaganda gained a B.Sc. in Agriculture and Saidat Mukasa a B.A. Education (Hons) in Economics and History. We are grateful to them both for allowing us to tell their stories.
UHST supporters provided a full scholarship for Hellen from 2010 to 2016. She enjoyed her time at school and her A-levels made her eligible to attend university, but her grades were not sufficient to gain one of the few government scholarships. After leaving school and failing to raise funds to pay university fees, she had a tough time. Hellen was forced into a traditional marriage and she conceived two baby boys. The marriage broke down and she returned to live with her mother who continues to help her to bring up the children. Seeing that she needed help, Moses Kamya offered her a teaching post, which provided a salary and covered her part-time university fees. This was a win-win. The school gained an extra teacher. Her inexperience was more than compensated by her knowledge and commitment to the ethos of the Humanist School. Hellen herself gained a lifeline and a means to support her two growing boys.
Saidat Mukasa came to the school as an orphan. Since losing both parents his grandmother struggled to keep him in school. He did well in his O-level exams but during A-levels, his grandmother’s health deteriorated, and she could no longer find the money to keep Saidat in school. Recognising his potential, the school stepped in to help. Saidat taught, as an unqualified teacher, while the school paid for him to study part time for a Teaching Certificate. He upgraded the Certificate to a Diploma and finally to a B.Ed(Hons) degree in Economics and History.
Both Hellen and Saidat are now very happy to be established members of the teaching staff at Mustard Seed School. Hellen is enjoying teaching Agriculture and Saidat is making his mark as a teacher of Economics and Entrepreneurship. The kindness they have received has helped them both to get a good start in life and they are enjoying being able to make a valuable contribution to their school and wider community.