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Press Box

Of two girls, whose future was turned around through meaningful Corporate Social Responsibility?

Release date:4/7/2015

“I used to watch powerful women on TV and wish I would grow up to be just like them. One day I watched Hillary Clinton campaigning for presidency of the United States of America. With zest, impetus and overwhelming conviction, she put her points across to a cheering mammoth audience.  Oh how I admired her charisma. But then as I looked at my own prevailing circumstances, I knew I had very little chance of ever making it to a recognizable level.”

Those were the words of Anita Senjala, reminiscing how she escaped being a primary school drop-out. Ms. Senjala is one of the two girls currently enjoying MTN/ Forum for African Women Educationalists Uganda (FAWEU) scholarship at Makerere University.  Currently a third year student pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering degree, it is evident that chances of Anita realizing her childhood dreams are now not entirely lost.

Looking back at how luck picked her from the shackles of life several years back, 22 year old Senjala blinks simultaneously as if the very memory of the past would pull her back to her fears. Hers is a life of determination to beat all odds, to attain an education. Her enthusiasm was compounded in her humble background with parents who could hardly afford her school fees. Senjala lost count of the number of times she was chased out of class to go home for fees.

“My father did not have a job for many years, having lost it more than five years ago. My mum’s contract also ended many years back,” she says.

“But somehow, I managed to complete primary level in 2005. I was later admitted to Makerere College School in 2006. This was when I came face to face with reality that unless a miracle happens, there was no chance I would go through O-level. When I heard of FAWE, I applied for a scholarship and luckily, I was considered. I joined Form 1 and did not worry about school fees, which made me to properly concentrate in class. FAWE did not only concentrate on education but also on mentoring and advising me which inspired me to become a leader at Makerere College School and also to live a good life”.

With FAWE’s scholarship, Senjala had very little to worry about until she completed in 2009.  It was equally a smooth ride for Senjala when she joined the A-level class at Makerere College School to study Physics, Economics, Mathematics and French in 2010.

She however drifted back to the previous state of hopelessness in 2012, when she joined University.  Ssenjala went back to FAWE to plead for further help. Fortunately this was the time when MTN Uganda had entered a partnership with FAWE to support less privileged girls at the university level in terms of tuition and other basic needs.
“Thanks to MTN, I now have all the support I need to pursue my studies at the university to the very end. At third year, I feel the burden and fears easing off my mind. I have heard people say the hands that give are more blessed than the ones that receive. To me I feel more blessed to be one of the recipients of FAWE and MTN generosity. I truly owe those two organisations my future.”

Anita Senjala’s story is very much similar to that of Mukoda Sandra, another  22 year old  Computer Science student at Makerere University.

Like Senjala, Mukoda finished primary level 2005, at Buwenge Parents Primary school and later joined Wanyange Girls Secondary school in S1. Financial hardship led to her dropping out of school consistently but she never gave up the determination to succeed.  Her persistence with the efforts from her parents, crapping here and there to raise fees, she completed A-level and was admitted to Makerere University.

Sandra did not know how she would go through university with the high tuition way beyond her parent’s ability. Sandra comes from a humble family. Her father is a farmer and the mum operates a retail shop in Kamuli.

“To me, this was the end of the road. I thought and prayed long and hard for a solution. Indeed, I also tried approaching different organisations for help. This was time when I heard about Forum for African Women Educationalists Uganda (FAWEU) who later came to her rescue. They connected me to MTN and today, I’m one of the proud beneficiaries, about to finish my course”.

“I am very grateful to FAWEU and MTN Uganda who are my sponsors till now. I no longer worry about University tuition, hostel fees and upkeep because MTN cares for me like a father cares for a daughter. I am now in my 3rd year and I look forward to finishing studies and also start working.  This scholarship has enabled me to concentrate in class and thus get good grades and I will forever be grateful”, Mokoda said.

The MTN-FAWE scholarship was established to sponsor young, talented girls undertaking ICT courses, but may not be able to meet their university fees. Each of the two girls receives sh7.5m, every year to cover tuition, accommodation and basic needs. Coming at a time when girl-child education continues to struggle, this initiative will go a long way to help boost the mothers of the nation in key areas like ICT.

Justina Ntabgoba-Kayemba, MTN Uganda’s Senior Manager Corporate Affairs said MTN, through the MTN Foundation will continue invest in the communities where it operates with Education as a key focus area; the others include Health and National priority arrears.

FAWE is a pan-African Non-Governmental Organization working in 33 African countries to empower girls and women through gender-responsive education.

“FAWE believes that through education of women and girls, livelihoods are improved for entire communities and civic education and liberties are enhanced. Educated girls become educated women who have the knowledge, skills and opportunity to play a role in governance and democratic processes and to influence the direction of their societies”, said Malcolm Mpamizo, FAWEU Program Officer.