Where to begin..? I finally arrived at Ssenyange Education Centre in Uganda three days ago and I have already gained so many new impressions and experiences and I have had so many different emotions I don’t even know how to begin.
I have been thrown into an entirely different reality with people living with dire conditions and everyday challenges. Yet, I have never met a more welcoming, happy and helpful people as the Ugandans.
Ssenyange Education Centre truly is a sanctuary for orphaned children without a future. The school, founded by the dedicated Mr. Mutesasira and his wife Mrs. Zaweede Getrude in 1991, is a private primary school, i.e. from nurse class (3-4 years old) up to P7. This school is like no other school in Uganda. It is the only school that forbids chastisement of the children. It is also the only private primary school that does not charge any school fee and in addition to this also enables the student to level up to a secondary school by seeking sponsors to the child since they need to pay for secondary school. A prerequisite for further studies and eventually a job or start of an own business.
The school has a special bond to Sweden and is entirely funded via Swedish donations and Swedish sponsors. All thanks to the enthusiast Matilda Nilsson who met the founder and principle of the school Mr. Mutesasira in 2003. I will let you know more about the remarkable and wonderful story of the school later on.
The feelings that follows one another in such a furious pace are out of this world. From exhilaration to helplessness, joyfulness to sadness and so on. And I have never felt so much love and gratefulness as these children and teachers are giving.
Approximately 350 students live at the school which is their only home and almost 300 students live in the area. All of them are so joyful, curious and full of unstoppable energy.
Two of the teachers, who also lives at the school, took me to a market in a village nearby. It was really an overwhelming experience. You get struck by the poverty walking on the roads by red soil half covered with garbage, passing rundown houses or huts made of scrap and seeing children, from 1 year and up with dirty and/or torn clothes, playing with things they find among the garbage. The smell of waste turning into ashes, cooked meat on the street and red soil is somewhat heavy. On the other hand, you are surrounded by a beautiful, colorful nature with big avocado trees and leafy banana plants, blessed with breathtaking sunsets and amazing night sky. But, what strikes me the most, is that despite these in many cases poor conditions, the people are all so joyful and happy! Waving and calling at you with the biggest smiles that melt your heart.
Coming back to the school after the visit in the village made me realize even more what a special and unusual place Ssenyange school really is. Though, the standard for the children might be below our level of acceptance in Sweden it is a million times better than the alternative that would be and it is gradually improving with time. Here, the children receive love, care and the chance of a brighter future.
I feel so fortunate that I get to be a part of this and I know that I have yet much more to learn and experience during the weeks to come.
“Everything we do has some effect, some impact”
– Dalai Lama