By Namulwa Patra Higenyi, S.6.C, 2019
Gratitude is a powerful practice that can revolutionize life forever. Thousands of people portray gratitude through appreciating and feeling thankful for their possessions only on specific dates such as Christmas, thanksgiving and the like. I too have been among those thousands not until the 29th April, 2019 where I had a life changing experience that enabled me to actualize gratitude as the ability to cultivate a sense of contentment and acceptance for what I have and what it can do without having to ask for more.
Before visiting St. Francis Vocational Secondary School as a Global Scriber, I had never imagined that a child would survive at school with no access to even a drop of safe drinking water therefore being exposed to a number of diseases like typhoid, a disease that contributes to over 128000-161000 deaths country wide considering the fact that there is no such thing as a dispensary let alone even a school nurse. Never had I imagined that a girl child would undergo over eight menstrual cycles without securing even a simple packet of sanitary towels or a boarding student being restricted to only one option of having to share a bed with another under circumstances of deficient facilities. Most of all, never had I imagined a girl aged 17 working as a teacher only because she comprises the youth and poorer younger people locked out on huge opportunities by financial and cultural constraints.
What disturbed me the most is a story that one of the students called Immaculate shared with me. She runs to school and back home every single day with each journey lasting over three hours. For her, this means receiving punishments both at school and at home for arriving late and having to battle with being deprived of academic and other necessities. Despite her struggles, Immaculate has chosen to press on with pursuing her education other than opting for marriage as an escape route to relieve her family of their financial burdens.
One thing I know for sure is that there are more children globally who are primary victims of such deplorable situations and even worse. Neither can their families nor schools ensure their health and wellbeing. Even worse, some children are sent to live in cities as it is thought that they will be better off, instead they end up being sexually harassed, living on streets with their rights neglected and opportunities like education remaining only for the most fortunate children.
Therefore, being able to hand over sanitary towels, toilet paper, soap, among other necessities and cutting cake all together with the children at St. Francis vocational Secondary School was not just any ordinary act of charity to me. It was one of those rare opportunities that taught me the true meaning of gratitude for all my life’s blessings that I had always taken for granted. I got to understand the value of treasuring and taking good care of what I own regardless of its magnitude.
Namulwa Patra Higenyi – S6 2019