As a young, 18 year old girl, I must admit the idea of living in Uganda for a whole year was very daunting. When I stepped off the plane at midnight and got hit by the heat I began to doubt whether it had even been a good idea. But since arriving in my new home, Kiwangala village, I have realised that this was just the place for me. After surviving visits from rats, bats and fleas and then two months with no electricity, I felt as if nothing could shock me. That was until my host Moses Kiwala told me all about his life and the many extraordinary projects he has currently and planned for the future. If anyone is an inspiration, it is he.
To start at the very beginning, Moses was from a well off family who lived in a not so well off area. Moses realised how lucky he was from a young age while at school, saying, “I realised there was something wrong when out of the 700 pupils at school with me, only myself and 2 sisters were wearing shoes.” It was at that moment when Moses realised he wanted to help others. Therefore after finishing his education and getting a university degree, Moses started his first project; building a free private school for those below the poverty line and vulnerable children, thus Children Sure House was born, a school which has now developed from only 5 primary classes, to a full primary school and a secondary school up to senior 4.
Starting Children Sure House was no easy task for Moses. Firstly he had to tell his family that instead of going into big business and making a wealthy man of himself like the generations before, he was going to build a school which would be completely funded by himself, seeing as the government refused to help. Moses admitted he was spoilt when he was growing up but felt he should try and share what he was lucky enough to have. He told me his family felt betrayed and only after many years did they begin to try and understand what he was doing.
As well as family issues of his own, Moses faces many families of children who wanted to go to school who felt education was a waste of time and would even demand their children stay at home and work. However Moses rarely gives up on something he feels passionately about and would often visit families to explain the importance of education and how it would benefit not only the child but the family as a whole. Many of the children at Children Sure House are orphans which also proved very difficult for those who wanted to go to school as they felt it was the only way in which they could make money. However this caused a great deal of trouble for the girls as men would exploit and abuse them leaving many infected with HIV/AIDS or pregnant. Moses told me of a girl who was sexually attacked and ended up pregnant. At this point she thought she would not be able to finish her education and her dream of being a nurse would be over, however superman Moses was there to save the day and after the child was born he found it a good family within the community and now the girl is at University training to become a qualified nurse, sponsored by Moses himself.
Moses and Justine also take children into their home when they feel it necessary, currently they have 12 children living with them as well as raising their own family of 4. Since 1994 they have given a home to 35 children, bringing them up, feeding them, clothing them and taking them onto further education if they so wish. One of the girls that is currently living with them was taken away from an abusive step-father and a mother who never truly cared for her.
Esther is now living a healthy life in the Kiwala home being loved and cared for as if she was part of the family. Moses and Justine try to be parents to everyone as much as they can, even to volunteers like myself. I am fed every night and often call Justine ‘Mum’ as she calls me her ‘baby’ or ‘daughter’, I have been made to feel like one of the family and feel as if I love each person as if they are part of my own family.
Moses does face many daily challenges with Children Sure House, some main issues being that the children cannot always afford a workbook and pen and therefore refuse to turn up to school. Or the fact that in a school that essentially needs 25 teachers, there are only 9, 5 of which are volunteers, including myself and 2 past pupils of the school who are working for a year as Moses will sponsor them and send them to high school elsewhere for them to complete their A-levels. However he delights in telling me all about his incredible success stories. In the past 18 years thousands of children have left primary school with their primary leavers qualification, roughly 300 secondary children have completed school up to senior 4, 40 children have completed A-levels and 15 people have graduated from university with various different degrees. One story that Moses loves to tell is of one of his very first pupils at Children Sure House being named the best at economics across the whole of Uganda and being sponsored by the government to complete his degree.
However Children Sure House isn’t Moses’ only project, he also runs projects to help elders, women, prisoners, the environment and future generations, but he can’t afford to have electricity in his own home! After successfully building 20 homes for elders and HIV positive families throughout the community, Moses continues to visit frequently and help support the people in various ways such as medications and food. The food which he provides people with is from his very own garden, which is where he runs his second biggest project; ‘Save Our Green Environment’ (SOGE).
SOGE was set up 2 years ago with the goal to educate the community about how they can help the environment. Moses holds special meeting where he teaches how to grow crops organically as well as discussing the different ways in which the people can make changes in their way of living to help the environment. Already recycling of plastic bottles has been introduced as well as the use of bees to improve crop production and to produce honey, which I must admit is amazing! As part of the project Moses takes children from the school to help maintain his garden as well as teaching them how they can grow crops of their own, how they can have a balanced diet and how to retain vitamins naturally from the different crops.
As well as teaching about the environment, Moses has started a tree nursery of hardwood trees similar to Mahogany which he hopes can help future generations. He feels that by him growing these trees, future generations can use the wood to build furniture and create a decent income for themselves.
The SOGE company is an excellent project but with so little help, sadly Moses’ crops are often stolen which can make life very difficult, especially as his family eat what they grow. Moses isn’t even growing the crops to create an income for himself, instead he hopes that one day he will be able to provide a school lunch for the children at school as he says, “by feeding the children, I am feeding the future.”
Moses’ biggest dream is that the school can self sustain. To manage this he plans to buy a coaster bus which will travel from Masaka to Kampala daily which will bring in a good amount of money that will allow him to hire more qualified teachers and provide the children with work books and other necessities the school lacks. Sadly one bus costs £35,000, money which Moses just does not have.
After hearing everything Moses does for his community and his plans for the future, I felt truly inspired. I don’t think I have ever met or heard of anyone like Moses in my short life, who happily gave up the chance of a wealthy life to help others. The only thing I can think to compare him to is the myth of the New Zeland bird, the Kiwi who gave up his chance to fly for all the other birds, but I’m not sure if Moses would appreciate that comparison. Therefore I ask you, the reader to think about what Moses does and maybe be as inspired as I have been to help either your own community or Moses in his dream. Currently I am trying to set up a link between Children Sure House and a primary school in Scotland. I am also planning to try and spread Moses’ story as he is so kind I feel he should get the credit he so deserves. As Children Sure House’s anthem says, “Better do what we can than nothing.” Jenny Cleeton