'How was your Easter long weekend?' I message my friend over WhatsApp.
This is how I imagine people using the app the whole world over - telling a travel adventure or two, offering live commentary to a sporting match, perhaps some sneaky flirtation here or there… So I’m surprised and amazed when Paul, the One Village Education Co-Ordinator, tells me that the One Village alumni group (past students in Uganda who received a One Village education scholarship) have been using the app to communicate and co-ordinate to sponsor another student, Eveline, to attend secondary school in her rural village of Namwendwa.
The young people in the alumni received a One Village scholarship (funded through One Village Australia) to attend tertiary education and have become the first in their families to gain ongoing paid employment in Uganda. Now, as well as helping their own families, in particular their younger siblings to attend school, they have rallied together to support Eveline.
Eveline lives in a rented house with her mother in Namwendwa. She does not have a relationship with her father since he left the family, leaving Eveline’s mother as the sole provider. Unlike most families in the area who live off their land through growing produce to eat, Eveline and her mother have no land. Her mother does domestic chores to earn some money which largely goes to rent. There is often not enough left to buy food and Eveline may go for days without a meal.
Eveline dreamed of going to school but as Paul describes, she had lost hope and struggled with feelings of low self-worth. The Ugandan alumni empathised with both Eveline’s passion and her struggles and so, through contributing part of their own very modest salaries, they are now paying her school fees, school books and for other basic needs.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing. Paul tells me that integrating Eveline into the formal education system took time - hope and trust are not built in a day. One Village knows that support must be more than just a scholarship for school, and both the One Village Ugandan team and the alumni provide ongoing support and mentoring to all students in the program.
Eveline is a proud and hard-working student. When she completes secondary school, she wants to study further and become a nurse.
‘My vision is to build a house for my family,’ she says.
One Village is currently seeking sponsors to support more young people in Uganda, like Eveline, to go to school.
We know from experience that with education, a young person becomes empowered to take control of their own future, and to support others to do the same.
Not in a position to donate or have other causes you’re already committed to? We get that. Perhaps instead, you can share this article?
Maybe you can even send your friends and family the link to this article through a WhatsApp message ;).