My name is Juliet and I am the Projects Manager at The Mbuyu Foundation and the Read for Life Co-ordinator. I oversee all the projects and project co-ordinators that the Mbuyu Foundation do in Katanga Slum, alongside with co-ordinating and teaching at Read for Life.
At the age of 9 when I was registered in a compassion project in my village, I could never have know that one day I would ever be training other little children in literacy skills and helping them develop a love for reading and above all in a slum.
Being raised in an impoverished and polygamous family where peasantry was the main source of income, life was difficult in terms of meeting basic needs, especially education.
As a family, we used to cultivate crops for both cash and food so as to earn a living. It is out of the crop yields harvested that my mother would raise the money to pay for my school dues , buy scholastic materials etc.
Hence, the crop yields determined my being at school or not.
In case the harvest was poor per say, that meant my older siblings were sent to school and as being the younger one, I stayed at home to take care of little sister even though I had the love for learning. But because God knew me before I was formed in my mother’s womb, He indeed had plans for me to accomplish my education despite my family background.
Not long before I was in Primary three I remember it was a Friday Morning when compassion staff from Kampala visited my Local church and they started registering children from poorest of the poor families since its, i highly qualified for the sponsorship.
Education would have been out of reach without sponsorship. Sponsorship changed my future and destiny.
This came to reality through the sponsorship from my sponsor parents Steve and Leila Muir from Australia who started sponsoring me not long after I was registered.
Because of the care and services I received as a young child - such as mentor ship, spiritual growth, education and literacy and servant leadership skills, through sponsorship, it made me yearn and have a passion to give back to the community when I grew up. Especially after excelling academically.
I managed to strive amidst challenges as a child and made it to university where I studied a Degree in Social Sciences majoring in Social Administration and Sociology which involves service delivery and socialising with people no matter their walk of life.
After graduating in 2014, my desired dream of serving others didn’t come to pass immediately. Not until after two years when papa Steve connected me with Leah who is the director and co-founder of the Mbuyu Foundation.
Thankfully, God had orchestrated that one day I would meet with Leah in Uganda.
I started as a volunteer, teaching children in Katanga how to read every Saturday. Working with the Mbuyu Foundation was a turning point in my life because my long awaited dream of training children in literacy skills is now being fulfilled. Helping families to help themselves.
In an organisation where there is a good working relationship between the directors and their employees, this has made it easier for me to thrive. I have been able to socialise with my workmates and even create a good relationship with my directors. We are like a family though from different races and backgrounds.
Working as the Read for Life coordinator as well as teacher at the Mbuyu foundation’s Read for Life program has enabled me to learn and gain skills and experiences these include; relating with others at work, how to encourage children in the program that they too can excel academically if they learn and have a love for reading, being a problem solver and always thinking outside of the box for the program to excel and progress.
I believe that reading is essential for our survival. Almost everything is written.
Our ability to read enables us to uncover hidden treasures written within books. Because of this, we have embarked on teaching children that reading is fun and they must develop the love for reading in order for them to achieve the best education at school. Change starts with reading.
It has been said many times that if you want to hide something from an African, put it in a book- you don’t even have to write it, just place it in a book.
This is used to point to the fact that our reading culture is very low, it’s like we have a hate relationship with books.
What we are doing is trying to change culture. We are working to create a reading culture in Katanga slum and to help support parents with understanding this. The Mbuyu foundation has created reading space in Katanga slum to enable children ages 3-20 to come in and enjoy reading with others and several literacy games.
This is also an opportunity for children from different schools to interact and make friendships that last. While we also have the opportunity to speak life into the children we are working with and encourage them to be the best they can be.
We are making a difference! And its exciting to be a part of that.
Finally, never doubt that a small group of thoughtful people, committed citizens can change this world, Indeed, it’s the only that has ever, “Margret Mead”.
Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.