– Says Kabanda Edward, a 20-year-old student of Luigi Giussani high school.
My name is Mukunda Awaru, a social worker of Meeting Point International in charge of accompanying children supported by DSP program in their path of growth. During the past year I had the opportunity to interact with Edward; at that time, he had just completed his senior four examinations which will help him to be awarded a Uganda certificate of education. I felt happy about his goal and I decided to interview him because the pictures of our path are very similar. Our stories are indeed very similar: when I look back at the time I was Edward’s age, I realize that mine and his stories have many point in common. After the completion of senior six, I never had hope to join the university but as they say, Hope changes everything: I was failing at first but through constant hard work and determination, it was eventually a success for me that I completed. I really got moved by the way he passed through all the challenges up to when he was successful; this is our mission: not to reduce the person to the challenges he encounters but to let him discover that he has an infinite value as Rose Busingye (MPI Director) says it, “The greatest need of a human being is the need of belonging, which gives stability and certainty in all aspects of life. Meeting Point International has discovered that with a belonging you can approach others while taking into account their reality and you can be able to truly embrace him/her whichever are the differences that separate you. MPI creates simple environments where each person can find it easier to belong, and experience love.”
When Edward completed his primary seven, he was unable to join secondary school because by then his uncle Mukabiri Geofrey who was paying his school fees had lost his job. He sat at home for one year, all his hopes of continuing with studies was all gone. He is the fifth born in a family 0f 6 children with 03 brothers and 03 sisters, the other children were studying using the little saving that his uncle had accumulated while he was still in service before he lost his job, his uncle was looking for a way of supporting Edward in secondary school but he failed so Edward decided to sit for a year. His family comes from Iganga district found in the eastern part of Uganda. His parents came to Kampala in search for job opportunities and they settled in Naguru housing estate which was considered redevelopment and the tenants where displaced. Edward’s family relocated to Kiganda zone, a neighboring village to Acholi quarters where Meeting Point International has a center. His father earns very little income by making chapatti, their family burden out weights their income this is why Edward was being paid in school by his uncle. His father lives in the same place, so when he received help from his brother (Edward’s uncle) to support Edward in primary, he was so happy but when it came to secondary, it was a burden for all of them because the uncle could not any more afford to pay his school fees, so Edward did not give up, he knew one day, he would go back to school, the desire for studies kept him awake to focus on his dreams. His father is our client in Meeting Point International and he was active in all the activities of our organization.
During the time he stayed at home without going to school, Edward admired his friends who managed to join secondary school. He often visited them at their homes to try to understand what goes on at secondary level. His closest friend by the names of Tumwa Derrick had joined Luigi Giussani High school and his mother Apia Betty was a member of Meeting Point International. Apia Betty was moved when she got to know that Edward who is a close friend to her son had dropped out of school at primary level. She encouraged him to talk to Rose Busingye (Director of M.P.I) about his challenge because Rose helps needy and vulnerable children like Edward (she supports them). He first hesitated because he is used of hearing of corn men who promise that they are going to pay for people, then in return take their money and the promise becomes false. Apia Betty insisted and kept on telling him to go to Meeting Point International, so one time Apia Betty invited him to go to Meeting Point International Naguru. Edward agreed and went with Betty to Meeting Point International Naguru, when Edward reached, the other women attending the weekly meeting in Naguru wondered why Betty had come with a young boy because the meetings are usually attended by women and besides Rose was out of the country. Apia Betty talked to Achieng Agnes (one of the field social workers in Naguru) about Edward’s challenge, Agnes called Edward and he narrated his story to her, Agnes was touched and she promised to tell Rose about his situation. Agnes also talked about Edward during the women’s meeting, they too felt concerned about him, however Edward doubted their reaction he thought that ‘’may be the women would isolate him because he was just a small boy’’ but he was surprised with the way he was welcomed and comforted with love and care like he was their own child. He stayed with them and enjoyed their dances, songs and drama when lunch time approached, he was very hungry yet he had no money on him however another surprise unveiled, two women invited him for lunch they bought for him a snack with milk for lunch.
This warm welcome made him feel at home, so every week, he would join them for the weekly meeting where Adult literacy is also conducted to give an opportunity to mothers who never had a chance to study to learn how to write and read. Each passing week everything was so nice to Edward, he would come, listen to what they study, take breakfast, lunch with them and after go home. Edward that the weekly meetings became his home because he would wake up with no money to eat but the only thing he thought was to go and be with the women. He would come and sit with them, listen and watch what they study and after go home. One day, one of the women told him that she knew some history and geography, she asked him to come with his books so that can teach him geography and history. Edward was very excited he could not wait for the next meeting, when the day he was more than ready to learn, the lady taught him for two weeks. When Rose came back from her journey in Europe she was welcomed with dances and songs of joy often depicting courage and strength in the fight against AIDS. Rose did not realize the presence of a new family member until her next meeting with the women. When she came back a day after, Agnes introduced Edward to Rose and told her about his situation. She also told about the joy that he brings to the women whenever he attends their meetings. Rose asked Edward to go to her office located in Kitintale about five Kilometers from Naguru. When Edward reached Kitintale the next day, Rose asked him, “are you the boy who has been attending with the women?” Edward said he was the one. He wanted to tell her his story Rose kindly said, “Edward I know everything about you because Agnes has explained everything about your situation. Bring your photos so as to fill a form for you to get someone to support your education”. He went back home very happy, and returned with the photos. Edward knelt down and thanked God for he has answered his prayers. Rose Busingye told Edward that we are going to request for support but it will take a while before the request is answered. He went home full of gratitude and waited patiently. It was coming to the end of the year when his form was filled and it takes some months to find a sponsor. So another year began when he was still at home, first term elapsed; it was during first term holidays when he finally got a sponsor. He was admitted to Luigi Giussani high school where he has now completed senior four this year.