The life of a slum student

In a small rented room, in the middle of a small Ugandan slum, you’ll find a boy called Timothy.

He’s 12 but he still shares a bed with his brother, while his mum and sister share a bed in the same room beside them

Timothy’s father abandoned his family, leaving Timothy’s mum to take care of everyone alone. She earns just enough money from selling ‘fiile’, which are fish bones eaten by most poor people in Uganda’s slums.

Every morning when he wakes up, Timothy walks to his small school – New Seasons Nursery and Primary School – by 7am. He stays there, without breakfast and lunch until about 4.00pm, and then goes back home where he gets his only meal for the day – a small supper at 6pm.

After he’s eaten, he walks about 1km to fetch water for his family. He does his homework when he comes home, but when he’s too tired, he has to finish it the next morning before school.

It’s a tough existence.

He can’t afford schoolbooks and stationary. His neighbourhood floods whenever it rains. And he doesn’t eat breakfast or lunch.

But the truth is, Timothy is one of the blessed ones in his slum… even though he lacks so much. And that’s because he is getting an education.

Timothy started attending New Seasons six years ago when he was six years old. But before then, he used to stay at home in the day, fighting with his friends, and walking around aimlessly, doing nothing.

When we spoke to him about his life, Timothy said: “I used to fight a lot with my friends but when I joined New Seasons, I stopped fighting because my teachers taught me that its bad and not godly to fight with friends. I can read and write, speak English, and I have learnt to behave in the community.”

Timothy is now in Primary Three and his favourite subjects are Maths and English. He dreams of becoming a pilot because he wants to help his family, and to him, pilots are highly paid.

But in all honesty, even with his current education, Timothy’s future is somewhat ‘foggy’. He has dreams and hopes, but so much of his situation is uncertain.

New Seasons only has the capacity to offer classes from Baby Class through to Primary Three. But in Uganda, a full Primary School has classes through to Primary Seven. So, if New Seasons can’t add higher grades by next year, Timothy won’t have a school to attend. He’ll be left to, once again, roam the slum streets.

Timothy is one of the lucky few in Nateete, but we are not content with his ‘luck’. We want to see him finish primary school and we want more children to be given that opportunity.

Only supporters like you can make that possible.

Timothy dreams of finishing primary school, but that’s not where his dream ends. He wants to have a school uniform, to have a school bus, and safe drinking water at school. But most importantly, he wants to have a class next year.

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