I was born in rural Uganda in a district called Sembabule, this is one of the districts in the country that has the highest illiteracy rates. I was born in a family of 16 children with 3 sets of twins, my set being the first so I am the first child among the twins.

My parents did not go to school so this explains the number of children which later explains their lack of interest in education and lack of financial resources to send children to school. Like so many families in rural Uganda, this was my fate. I remember as a child, I loved to go to school but I could barely make a week at school without being sent back home for the lack of school fees, scholastic materials or other basic requirements.

As fate would have it, my aunt selected me to stay with her from the age of 8, but still she did not have money to take me to school. So from primary 3, I remember I was studying in Mbale, a district in Eastern Uganda, where the school was for the Army.

Still I could not afford the basics like books or a meal at school, and walked barefoot to school every early morning for 5 years. It is in that primary school that I started talking to teachers and the headmaster about my situation and they began to intervene in terms of food and books at school. As a child I do not know where I found the courage to request help from strangers, but yes I did it, and it yielded good results.

When I completed my Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE), I was among the best in the district, but still another hurdle awaited me — joining the secondary school level. I started approaching schools and explaining my situation and assuring them that I was willing to work during the holidays to pay for my school fees. The first school accepted me, and I studied in that school up to senior 3 after which I left Mbale for Kampala with a church friend who had joined University by then.

My friend at the university agreed to house me at his university residence as I figured out what to do next in terms of my education. I was 14 years old at the time and knew no one else but my friend on campus.

Long story short, I visited some schools, and suggested once again that I would work on holidays as a way of paying my school fees. I managed to find a school that accepted my offer and studied there until I finished secondary school.

After my secondary school examinations (Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education), I emerged among the best in the country. However, I was not offered a government scholarship, so it was time to worry again about what was next.

For my university, I applied for a university scholarship, which I got, hence studying in Algeria for my both my undergraduate and Master’s level programs.

I am now a professional, who started out with an absolutely uncertain education journey. My story is the story of millions of children in rural Uganda and Africa who cannot afford an education for one reason or another. I am now inspired to help other youth in Africa achieve their goals — and it all starts with education.

I intend to write a book soon in hopes that it, too, will inspire others.

By: Waswa Moses

Waswa Moses earned a Master’s Degree in Strategic Management and a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Universite’ Mouloud Mammeri Tizi-Ouzou in Algeria. He is co-founder and CEO of Swift Minds, a Management and Business Consultant firm in Kampala, Uganda. Moses is fluent in English, French, Swahili, Luganda, Lusoga, Lugisu, and Runyakitara.