- Philanthropy. Olive Tumwesigye Kajubu lived a life of poverty and lack which she endevoured to break free from as an adult and succeeded.
- Having benefited from the benevolence of others on her journey, she decided to pay back by going back to her roots to transform her poverty-stricken village writes Charlotte Ninsiima.
Kito village should by its proximity to the city not be in the condition it is in. Prior to Olive Tumwesigye Kajubu’s generous intervention, the village located in Nagojje Sub-county, 10 kilometres from Lugazi Town in Mukono District, had no school facilities and generally lacked infrastructure such as roads and a clean source of water.
According to Tumwesigye, the residents still move long distances for basic health support, the nearest healthcare facility is a health centre IV in Nagojje, about 10kms away.
“Most mothers still deliver from their homes assisted by one aged birth attendant. We hope that one day we shall get a nearby health center and maybe another close by school to cut on the overwhelming number of students,” Tumwesigye shares wistfully.
Tumwesigye describes her childhood in this village as one fraught with uncertainties and deprivation.
“Being a girl child in this village meant you were nothing more than a source of income for the family. Your contribution was to be married off in exchange for money, cows and goats. Therefore, most of my friends did not finish primary school. I was one of the few luck ones,” she relates.
The 10th of 12 children and among the surviving four children born to Ruth Nkwanzi and Charles Rutare, Tumwesigye went to Wagala Primary School in Nagojje village, Mukono District and proceeded to Lugazi Senior Secondary School where she dropped out in Senior One due to lack of school fees.
“My dad left us when I was seven years old. I was raised by a single mother who worked in the sugarcane and tea plantations where she earned a pittance to look after her 12 children. We would wake up very early in the morning fetch water from the well before walking six kilometres barefooted to school. It was never easy; it took resilience, an acquired skill that is never taught in school.”
She adds, “When I dropped out of school, I was 15 years old and did not have any particular skills. My only option was doing odd jobs from hairdressing to store keeping which paid me a pittance. I wanted to make more money and believed I would do so in the city,” Tumwesigye recounts.
In Kampala, Tumwesigye got herself a job as a housemaid where she worked for three years until one day, she forgot to lock her boss’ parrot’s cage and it flew away.
“My boss was so incensed that he terminated my employment on the spot and told me to leave the home immediately. I sought refuge at Elim Pentecostal Church in Mengo. At the church, I met Pastor Azaria Tuwangira who became my spiritual father and counsellor. He generously sponsored me for an early childhood certificate at YWCA which set me up for the rest of my life,” she recounts.
Armed with her certificate, she got her first job at Aunt Clare’s Kindergarten in Mengo where she made contacts that connected her to International School of Uganda (formerly Lincoln International School) and Kabira International School where she taught for 17 years.
A mother of two boys, Adriel Kasaija and Abia Kasaija aged 11 and 18 years respectively, go to Kampala Academy and Naalya Senior Secondary School.
Tumwesigye says one of the things she promised to do if she ever made it was to help someone else in need just like Pastor Tuwangira helped her. She also wanted to show her gratitude to her mother who refused to give in to community pressure to marry her off and paid her school fees until Senior One.
The teacher decided that what the village needed most was a school, so she started planning the project.
In 2007 the devout Christian enrolled her first 35 pupils that started off as a Bible club and later transformed into a school.
“Although we were studying under a tree, parents kept sending their children and within two months, the number had grown to 75. We then moved into in a mud and wattle house with a tinned roof that served as a church. Currently Kito Community School accommodates 60 students in secondary school of which the Senior Four candidates are the pioneers, sitting their national exams this year. We also have 498 both kindergarten and primary,” the philanthropist says proudly.
In addition to the school, the philanthropist takes care of the community’s elderly. She started with five old people in 2005, grew to 25 and now they are 35.
“Kito is a cosmopolitan village, its community is made up of people from various regions who come in search employment opportunities in the tea and sugarcane plantations. So, most of these people have lost touch with their own families since they are migrants,” Tumwesigye notes.
She reveals that having grown up in the village gives her the advantage of knowing who is most in need of help.
Tumwesigye started out with her own savings but she acquired more along the way. “Forty of these children are sponsored and supported by friends of Kito Community Development Programme. Most of my friends in Canada and USA that I met in the former international schools give donations towards the work I do. This helps to cover teachers’ salary, food and others since school fees is not enough to keep activities running,” she shares. The rest of the children pay a percentage of the fees that helps us to run the daily administrative work.
“In nursery section, they pay between Shs10,000 to Shs20,000, Primary One to Three pay Shs15,000-Shs30,000 while the boarding section pay between Shs70,000- Shs120,000 to cater for exams and four meals,” she reveals.
“Having 60 students in secondary is the biggest miracle in our community because there was a high rate of school dropouts at primary level before,” Tumwesigye says proudly.
She is also happy the community has changed its attitude towards education observing that, “We begged parents to allow their children come to school when they are five years old, now they ask if they could bring us their children at three years.”
Additionally, for the past four years, the primary school has consistently performed well in PLE. This has also encouraged community members to trust in her and the teachers who work tirelessly to teach and support those that need additional learning support.
She adds that although parents are happy to send their children to school, they still stop them from going to school during the rainy season so that they plough and till the land in preparation for planting season. This does not only affect the pupils’ performance but also disrupts their morale to engage in school activities.