August 24, 2010
Shaloni Nakayemba, age 9, lives in Kyeitabya with her mother and two of her six older siblings: Nasuna and Godfrey. To make a living, Shaloniâ€™s mother works as a farmer and is also fortunate to have one cow, one pig and three hens. When asked what she was most excited about for her new school, the BT Academy of Kyeitabya, Shaloni gave a one-word answerâ€¦â€okumpiâ€. Translated from Luganda, it simply means â€œnearâ€. Shaloni currently walks six kilometers to and from her P3 class at Nakaseeka Primary School (the closest UPE school to her home) each day and the distance doesnâ€™t get any easier. Within her family, Shaloni and Nasuna are the only two children still in primary school; all of the others dropped out before reaching P6 â€” an unfortunate fact of life for many families and children in rural Uganda.
Shaloni says that when she is not in school you can usually find her fetching water for her family. Shaloni carries a 10L jug spilling over with water, no easy feat for a nine-year old of her petite stature by anyoneâ€™s calculation. When she does have some free time, Shaloni loves playing all sorts of ball games. She also loves singing (at which, we can attest, she is quite good!), her favorite color is red, her favorite animal is a cow and her favorite food is rice (a delicacy in rural Uganda).
Our hope is that, through the BT Academy of Kyeitabya, we can decrease the amount of time she has to spend facing what she says is her biggest fear: walking alone outside at night, and increase her odds of staying in school. If we can do that, Shaloni will be one step closer to her dream: becoming a doctor or nurse so that she may return to her village to take care of those in her community.