Thanks to the Girls' Education Movement (GEM), I will be a lawyer
By Proscovia Nakibuuka
Victoria Nakiberu, 13 years old who lost her parents at the age of two, now lives with her 50 year old maternal grandmother, Maria Kevina Nakato and her 14 year old brother in Luvumbula village, Mpigi district.
“I don’t have any pictures of my parents because they were burnt. While walking to and from school, I think about my parents but I will never see them”
Ever since the death of her parents, her grandmother has taken care of her includ-ing paying her school fees. However, de-spite Victoria’s love for school, she had to drop out of school in 2008 as her grand-mother couldn’t afford her fees plus buy her scholastic materials anymore. She stayed at home for a full year digging in her grandmother’s plantation as well as fetch water for families within her village to earn some little money that they used to buy necessities like soap, sugar and paraffin.
Little did she know that the Girls’ Education Movement (GEM) which was introduced in St. John Bosco Katende Day and Boarding School in 2009, would lead her back to school. According to Joyce Nansubuga, the Chairperson of the GEM club, Victoria was identified by the GEM members in 2009 during their mapping exercise and brought back to school. Using the funds earned from the sale of mats, brooms, table mats and other things made by the GEM members, Victoria receives financial support towards the purchase of scholastics materials, school fees and uniforms. She is currently in primary six, enjoying school and her favourite subjects are Mathematics, Science and English.
According to Sr. Maxiensia Babirye, GEM Clubs have improved the status and participation of girls in schools. They also raise awareness on the importance of sending every child – boy and girl – to school. “The underlying principle for GEM is the involvement of girls themselves as key players in ensuring that they receive a good education” she adds.
Victoria’s home is 5kms away from the school. Her ordinary school day begins at 4 a.m. with fetching water for her grandmother before beginning her journey to school at 6 a.m. in order to make it for the first lesson that begins at 7 a.m. When asked if she is scared of walking all by herself, she responds “I am now used to the journey and I always find other children on the way, so we walk in a group”. On a lighter note, she mentions that she enjoys her way back as she picks and eats fruits like mangoes, pawpaws and passion fruits.
“Thanks to GEM, I am back to school and I will be a lawyer when I grow up because lawyers help people with solv-ing problems” Victoria says.
She likes her teachers and Headmistress who bought her a new uniform. She also likes her best friend Patricia with whom she shares everything.
As a member of the GEM club, she has learnt how to weave baskets, make table clothes, brooms and other things. Her biggest challenge is getting scholastic mate-rials like text books which the club cannot afford to provide