Thursday, March 15, 2012

Hungry for Education

Mary is 16 years old and an orphan. Her father died in 1996 and her mother in 2005—both of AIDS. She started staying with her grandmother deep in the village together with her other four siblings: Nakyanzi Goreth (18), Nakaweesi Beatrice (13 ), Nanyondo Agnes (12) and Luyiga Kenneth (9). Their grandmother, Miss Namasinga Zoe, is 78 years old and a traditional birth attendant—a job that Mary is also learning. Mary attends a secondary school 45 km away from her home. Because of the distance, she stays in the hostel at the school.

In addition to Mary and her siblings, Ms. Zoe looks after 12 other orphans. She has worked tirelessly to provide for the needs of the children she cares for. She supplements her job by helping in neighbors’ fields and has been providing school fees for some of the children including Mary’s three other school-age siblings, Beatrice, Agnes and Kenneth. There have been problems with regular income due to the seasonality and unreliability of her job as a birth attendant, and yet Ms. Zoe has been caring for these orphans well.

However, since 2006 she has been experiencing back pain, which makes it difficult to attend to many women during labor as she used to. This financial strain has made it difficult to pay for the school fees and food of the children she cares for.

Ms. Zoe has started training Mary to help her attend to women in labor. Mary appreciates the importance of the job that has helped her grandmother come so far, but she wants to continue studying and become a professional nurse so she can help people. She also worries for her young sisters and brothers.

Mary is an example of a bright young woman hungry for education. Can you help?

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