Meet Paolo


Paolo practicing his writingname. Paolo Ssekate
age. 8 years old (munana)
home. Kyeitabya, Uganda (Kiboga District)
class. P1

Paolo is all personality. It doesn’t hurt that he’s positively adorable, too but that’s another story… The first time our team in Uganda met Paolo he was the quiet kid standing alone on the dirt road in front of their home. Staring at them. Hesitant to move even a foot in their direction… Fast-forward two weeks later and Paolo was “hamming it up” (as Whitley likes to say) for the camera, dancing, sketching, showing off his good marks in school and helping the team stay on top of their Luganda. On the mornings he was unable to attend his “school” – he would faithfully wait for his new-found friends to emerge dreary-eyed and begin the walk to the site of his future school. Once there, he was quick to take the tools right out of their hands and proceed to “show-them-up”: moving bricks, pushing the wheel barrow and clearing the land…no matter how many times they protested. On the walk back at the end of the day he would jump on Whitley’s back and begin one of his favorite activities…singing his “name-song”. It goes something like this… “Paolo, Paolo, Paolo – EHHHH!”

In the evenings, Paolo would meet everyone on the front porch and begin another of his favorite activities, writing and drawing in Whitley’s sketch-book…which should come as no surprise considering Paolo says his favorite subject in school is writing. Unfortunately, Paolo hasn’t had the access to education that he deserves…yet. When he can attend, his school – Kyeitabya Primary School, is truly just a number of benches under a tree next to the main church in Kyeitabya. But that hasn’t stunted his desire to learn or thirst for knowledge one bit. Paolo can’t wait to attend the new BT Academy in his village next year! In fact, on the last night our team spent in Kyeitabya with Paolo, he grabbed Whitley’s sketch book, flipped to the drawing the two of them had made of his future school and proceeded to proudly show it to all of his friends – excitedly pointing and saying “Somero!” (Lugandan for “school”!).

Paolo has eight siblings but only lives with five of them and his mother. His favorite foods are rice and Nile Perch (Our team is pretty sure jack fruit fits in there somewhere, too after seeing him devour it daily.) His favorite color is red. His favorite animal is a cow. And when he grows up, Paolo wants to take on the family business of farming and learn all sorts of agricultural techniques. But, for now, he’s happy with practicing writing his name…over and over and over.

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