I am the first born in a family of seven children. My parents are both HIV-positive. My father spends most of his time at home because he is sick and weak. My mother is stronger, and she is able to farm for a living. It is from her enduring effort that my siblings and I have been able to go to school.
I sat for my national high school exam in 2012. When the results came, I was very proud of myself because I had performed very well. Unfortunately, my mother could not afford to pay for my college education. I recall her calm and worried voice when she asked to talk to me that evening. She said “James, I think your studies will have to take a pause for now, at least you have some knowledge so let me educate your younger siblings.” Much as it was heart-breaking, I accepted it because I understood the financial situation she was in.
So I started supporting my mother in the farm, as I tried to look for work to earn an income. In 2013, I met a man who told me about the SOS family strengthening programme in Gulu. I went to their offices and talked to the family strengthening team who asked me to apply for sponsorship.
Another year came and went, but I still did not lose hope. One day, I saw the SOS team in my area visiting different families. I expected that they would pass by my home and they did. My prayer had been answered.
The SOS team asked me to apply for nursing and midwifery if I was interested. It was the only course that was fully sponsored at the time. In May, I will complete my certificate level in nursing – I cannot wait.
My desire is to continue with my studies beyond the diploma. I will work very hard to be a successful nurse so that I can support my family. I do not want my younger siblings to struggle like I did. Two years out of school was some good time wasted. I pray that none of my siblings will sit at home for lack of school fees. I am now 21 years old, and I am proud of my wonderful achievements so far.
I am also thankful to the SOS family strengthening team for supporting one of my brothers who just joined secondary school. They pay 75% of his school fees and my mother pays the other 25%. This shared cost gives her room to manage my other younger siblings’ schooling. It might be difficult for now, but at least there is the promise of a bright future for me and my family.
Photo: Will Boase
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