Two devoted, warmhearted and beautiful minds. Both determined to invest in the children of need. Both with small means but yet the strong belief that it is possible and that you at least have to start somewhere.
One of the spirits based just outside Masaka town on the countryside of Uganda had decided to dedicate his life to help orphaned children in need. Being an orphan himself that was helped by friendly people who paid for his school fee he become a teacher, worked hard in Kampala and met his wife, teacher Mrs. Gertrude Zaweede. For the money he earned he bought a land in 1970 but due to the dictator Idi Amin he could not start building until 1991. In 2003 he was housing 15 orphaned girls in his small livingroom, his family in the other room and a few orphaned boys sleeping in one of the three classrooms. With no help from other organizations or from the Ugandan government he was struggling with money while teaching and taking care of the children who had nowhere else to go. A lot of difficult times, worrying and doubting of the school’s further existence but with a great ambition and determination Mr. Mutesasira and Mrs. Gertrude kept on fighting for the children.
The other spirit, Matilda, from the small town Våxtorp in south of Sweden, was working as a volunteer for six month in Uganda and her former colleagues had collected 2 990 SEK for her to give to a project of choice. Searching and screening carefully after a serious and right-minded project the two spirits’s paths cross and an impressive, beautiful story of building a strong bridge between Uganda and Sweden began.
Thanks to these money they were able to house six more children, i.e. 25 children in total. They were also able to invest in mosquito nets to prevent malaria, mattresses, sheets, blankets, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, wash tubs and school supplies.
Coming back home to Sweden, Matilda, seeing the great potential in Mr. Mutesasira and the school, was determined to help out even more and they kept contact. As she spread awareness about Ssenyange in her environment many people wanted to help out and every month money could now be sent to Ssenyange.
The genuine caring is one of the things that makes this school unique. Since many of the children have experienced things no one should ever be experiencing they are truly in the need of love and care. With a non-violence policy at the school it is strictly forbidden to use any kind of abuse towards the children. Due to the violence against women and children being quite common in Uganda members of the staff have also experienced an abusive childhood and learned that this is the way of handling children. Hence, critical situations have occurred at the school as well. When this has been revealed the management have taken action and the person has been fired.
One of Mr. Mutesasira’s dreams was to be able to afford a new dormitory for the girls and thanks to Matilda’s drive and performing of talks in several associations they could start to build the dormitory only one year later in 2004.
Like branches on a tree, the Swedish private sponsors and Swedish companies contributions has spread widely and the school has expanded a great deal. New buildings have been built like two more dormitories for boys, kitchen building, assembly hall, two toilet buildings, nurse clinic, staff housing, library, sewing hall, smaller woodwork shed and rooms for volunteers at the top floor of the boys’s dormitory. Several teachers, head mister and head mistress, matrons, kitchen staff, a nurse and a secretary has been employed and in total they are around 30 employees at the school.
The number of students has gone from 25 in 2003 to over 600 today whereof around 450 are boarding students.
Another unique thing is that they do not let go of the children when they graduate from Primary 7 as they do in other schools. The children are then between 12-15 years old and early on Mr. Mutesasira and Matilda decided to find a solution so they could be able to continue their education at secondary level. Otherwise, they would not have been able to pay the school fee which would have ended up they staying home with relatives in best case or, in worst case, they would have ended up on the streets.
In addition to caring and education the project focus on health whereas one basic and essential matter is having safe and clean drinking water. This is not always accessible in schools or orphanages but if it is one thing the Ssenyange school prioritises it is the water. They have invested in sustainable solutions such as a distilled water tank for drinking water, several water storage tanks that collects rain water for washing and taps in the compound. Water stations has been placed around in the school area where the water is mixed with soap for the students to wash their hands before eating and after visiting the toilets. These kind of hygiene factors are not common at all in Uganda.
When visiting the students at secondary schools you get struck by their great ambition and humbleness. All of them express their gratefulness for the Ssenyange Education project and the caring received from Mr. Mutesasira, Gertrude, Matilda and all their sponsors. Being well aware of the chance they have been given to have a brighter future they truly seize it and work hard to get a better life.
This school project and Mr. Mutesasira has become very well-known due to the successful structure, the results of graduating students and not least the impact it has on the society by taking care of children in need no matter what religion or disability they have. Supporting and encouraging, and turning them into well educated young adults that can provide for themselves and even create new employment opportunities while starting their own businesses. Beyond this the project also creates many employment opportunities itself. In 2012 the king of Buganda, Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, had noticed the school and was eager to visit in order to see the project with his own eyes and while being there he officially opened the new dormitory for boys.All over the school you see the strong connection to Sweden. The Swedish flag being raised along with the Ugandan and Bugandan flag, Swedish flags painted on the buildings, buildings being named after Matilda, her family, volunteers etc. ALmost every school in Uganda has a morning assembly where songs are sung but this school is probably the only school in Uganda that sings the Swedish national anthem and a song written by Mr. Mutesasira dedicated to Sweden. I doubt that there is even a school in Sweden that sings the Swedish national anthem every day.
And all this, thanks to the beautiful bridge of spirits between Sweden and Uganda.
I am so grateful for receiving the chance of being a part of this human development project🙏🏼❤️
”The future depends on what we do in the present”