- Selfless. Teopista Nabakiibi is a beneficiary of a scholarship from Emmaus Foundation a charity organization founded by the late Fr. John Scalabrini that allowed her to go to school.
- The 21- year-old law student is determined to keep girls in school using her pocket money, writes Gabriel Buule.
Teopista Nabakiibi is passionate about girl-child education which inspired her to start the Keep Me in School initiative to raise funds from friends and acquaintances to keep children, especially girls in school as she explains. In September 2016 together with friends, Nabakiibi started a Whatsapp group to help a family in Banda- Katoogo slum where five children had spent a week without going to school because their mother was unable to afford scholastic materials at that time.
The first million
Nabakiibi together with her peers went around soliciting for funds from people they knew raising more than Shs1m shillings to help the family. “My dream started as a social media campaign targeting my peers on social media to reach out to the underprivileged children,” Nabakiibi says. She explains that Keep Me in School focuses on creating a comfortable and supportive environment for school going children/young people and those in the community.
“We hope to help reduce the number of children/ young people, especially girls dropping out of school due to lack of scholastic materials, school fees, sanitary pads for girls among the many challenges they face,” Nabakiibi explains.
Nabakiibi who comes from the same background as the children she helps is aware that children miss out on school because of small things such as lack of pens, pencil, book and sanitary pads. After completing her A-Level UACE exams she rallied her peers to champion a campaign that could help children crafting slogans like “one book one pen one child” that saw hundreds of children in Kwania District northern Uganda get books.
“We have community dialogues where parents, children, school administration and the community come together to discuss the challenges faced by the young people at school and during these dialogues parents ,children, school administrators speak out the different problems and together we find solutions for them,” Nabakiibi shares.
Nabakiibi notes that as part of her project she organises sports galas and talent competitions citing that co-curricular activities help to keep children in schools.
The 22-year-old law student also offers career guidance to the children in schools to help them becoming confident and stay out of trouble.
“We talk to the children in both homes and schools and we skill them in making crafts and reusable sanitary towels to support the girls’ education. This also helps to increase the income of the community for those who take on the job,” adds Nabakiibi.
Her dream is to grow the Keep Me In School project, support more young people to stay in school and help them realise their dream careers regardless of their gender, physical appearance or background.
Having witnessed how her benefactor Father Scalabrini struggled to help children enabled Nabakiibi learn that one does not necessarily have to have enough to help others. “I look up to the Fr Scalabrini (RIP) because he moved door to door in Italy begging for us to stay in school. That is why I beg from people to raise at least small money for the disadvantaged school going children, especially girls. He always told us that helping others is an act that can change the world and it is the best way to leave a mark before one’s death and this what I intend to do,” she pledges.
Her parents Resty Nalubega and Angello Mutyaba struggled to look after her and her six siblings. When she was in Senior Two and her parents could no longer afford the school fees, Fr Scalabrini stepped in and offered her father who had worked for him for 15 years, a scholarship. She attended Bishop Cipriano Kihangire SSS Biina Luzira for O and A-Level.