“I was only a child when both my parents died leaving seven children in a very difficult world”, says a very pretty 26 year-old businesswoman, well-dressed, sitting in the conference room at FAWE’s 8th Donors’ Consortium meeting in Kampala, Uganda.
“I did all sorts of small jobs to be able to continue going to school and to have some food for me and my siblings at least once a day”.
Grace Nangyonga is one of the many girls who were guided and financially supported by FAWE to pursue their education against all odds.
Grace was brought to FAWE by Hon Ruth Karuma, then Chairperson of FAWE Uganda (FAWEU), who read an article in the local paper about her selling chicken. “My only family became FAWE. They guided me, paid for my tuition, and followed up on a regular basis… I knew I was blessed by God”.
“I first sold chicken at age 8 to make a living for me and my six siblings. I was mockingly called “Chicken” in school because they all knew that I was selling chicken after school; it did not matter to me because I knew I was an orphan, responsible for six siblings and I needed to work to survive”.
When Grace reached secondary II, it became very difficult for her to pay for her tuition and she was desperate because she wanted so eagerly to keep studying. FAWE stuck by her side all along.
“Today, I have my degree in Information Science; I work for Theta as an Information Officer. I own a fish smoking company that is doing pretty well so far. I am taking care of five siblings who are all going to school. My dream is to see my business grow, get married and keep helping other girls who are going through the same thing I had to go through…, girls who think there is no hope for them in this world….who are head of family at a very young age…I would like to help them believe that they can make it the same way I made it”
The program that helped FAWE pay for Grace’s studies was funded by the Ambassadors’ Girls Scholarships Program. The Chapter also receives supports from individuals and funding agencies such as Irish Aid andUNHCR. 2389 other girls and 50 boys are currently supported through FAWEU. They each have a different story; stories thatclearly demonstrate that there is hope for every girl in Africa to get an education and be independent.
Still despite FAWE’s work and the help of many donors like the Netherland's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Norwegian Agency for Development, the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations, The World Bank, the Government of Finland, UNICEF ESARO, UNGEI, USAID, UNESCO, CIDA Canada, Irish Aid, and many private donors, there is still a lot to do for all African girls to be enrolled in school and to go through a complete cycle. FAWE still needs support from various funding partners to help more girls in the 33 countries where it has its national chapters.
Together we can give hope to many African girls in need of education and guidance, just a little push to go further, to make more Graces all over Africa….
“I am so proud of who I am today that I want to transfer some of that to other girls in my country and in Africa. I want to be an example for girls in my country and beyond…..We do have an association of girls who benefitted from this program, we are trying to get organized and to sensitize girls through different activities. Today, we were encouraged by FAWE Executive Director, Dr. Codou Diaw, to even go further and link up with other FAWE beneficiaries in other countries”