I wrote last Thursday about the why story and how I discovered that I couldn’t articulate it for my friend in a Skype conversation. I am going to attempt to tell you some of it today and if this is not articulate, well, there is always the comments section.
Every time I asked my father for money, he gave me half what I asked for and told me what the other half could buy for someone else. Books, brooms, food for the day….I heard it all. Sometimes I might have behaved like a brat, but with repeated instruction and increased exposure, I realised a lot of this. I am ashamed at how easy it is to not recognise the difference on our streets even when we step out for the day, and I am happy that every chance he got, my father snapped at that blindness and taught me something. He grew up in difficult circumstances and he did not want the same for his children. So he worked hard to give us a life where we could go to him and whine for UgShs. 20,000 to go to that show we were dying to go to, or UgShs. 30,000 because we wanted to go hang out at the new shopping mall with friends from school. He worked very hard, every day, never making it for Easter and left immediately after Christmas. It was almost like he worked 24/7 for all 365 days.
He is the co-founder of Uganda Rural Development and Training Programme (URDT) and has acted as the organisation’s CEO for the last decade or so. URDT is in many ways, his heart but he never explained it to me in detail. I am glad he didn’t. He let me grow and process it myself. I worked out my own understanding of the work of URDT and why it was important. URDT was and still is trying to advance the girl child education; to give hope to young women out there who never thought they had a chance to go to school. It gives the community a chance to spearhead their own transformation and development. There are a lot of community activities, cooperation among families; and family support and values remain at the center of community transformation.
Recently, he told me about the most unexpected series of events during his work day at the URDT campus. He said that two girls approached him and asked for a few minutes to talk. They wanted to tell him about a school in Kanywamiyaga (Kibaale district) that, teachers had abandoned [because of no pay], where there had been no classes for almost 6 months. “Have you done anything to change the situation?” he asked them. (My father is the proactive type.) The girls were trying to teach the students in the lower classes, but they could not keep up without advancing their own education. He had not expected that so he was pleased to learn of the involvement. He insists that this is what makes the people of Kagadi special- that they are involved and willing to work for their community. [I suppose that would be his why story].
Long story short, URDT adopted their school, and the parents of the school offered to grow food to provide two meals a day for their children at school. The school has limited resources because URDT efforts are voluntary and dependent on donor aid. However, I know the kind of person he is and he probably sat the girls down and explained this, promising to not let them down regardless and support their education as he has done for the URDT girls.
I am not as privileged as you may think, but I recognise that I have been very lucky in life. I have been particularly lucky to have such a father who in addition to working hard for my wellbeing, taught me to put it all in perspective and that the world was not isolated in little bubbles. And now that I have grown, I appreciate the times he halved money and told me why. This is why I am running this campaign, to help fundraise money for URDT’s budget needs.
Nshunge is fundraising to help buy a school truck for URDT Girls’ School in Kagadi, Kibaale district. The truck will be used to transport students to sports events, farm work and educative theatre. She will be sharing her progress and her learning process here every Thursday and hopes that it will be helpful for other Ugandan women who are running, or thinking about running, fundraising campaigns.
You can donate to her campaign here.