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Patrick, a Young Man Looking For Education


Patrick Keenabanyama, 2016


It was late afternoon and I was crossing from the guesthouse to the main house at the Mama Bakhita Cheshire Home when I noticed a slim figure standing expectantly at the open gates. I thought it might be someone on business for the Home and walked over to inquire. This young man, maybe 15 years old, explained in halting english that he was looking for  sponsorship to continue his education and showed me a piece of paper with his grades from the previous term. They didn't look very promising, with mid range grades and three failures. The doll making ladies were at the end of a long day adjusting and correcting dolls, so I brought him over to Nophreen and Mary for help in understanding. 

-They interview him at length and then tell me: "He says he needs to make up the three classes that he has failed in order to pass grade nine. H e has found a school where he can retake them, but he needs 300 kwacha ($30) in order to go. Plus two white shirts and four books and a book bag. He has everything else."

I was a bit nonplussed. The thin, poorly dressed young man showing up, knowing no one here, asking for help. 

The ladies questioned him further and told me that he stays with his older brother who does not help him. I asked what they thought about his story and they believed him. So did I. He was without guile.

-Do you have an acceptance letter from the school? 

So he went and asked for one and returned to say they would only issue an acceptance letter after he paid. 

I gave him 500 kwacha (about $50) and asked him to bring back receipts for everything. I asked him how he would manage to pay the fees for next term. He said he would go from door to door asking for donations. I'm thinking, if only the school children in the States could see this. 

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