From growing up in poverty to becoming a successful student at the best university in Uganda, Sheilla Amanya's journey was far from over. With the help of her mother, and despite many challenges she must face, Sheilla pursues her dream of creating a home to empower orphaned children through education. This is her inspiring story …
I remember the sight of Mother walking home; swollen legs and feet. She carried a basket of tomatoes on her head. She’d walk for miles visiting different markets to make little money. Tomatoes still in the basket, meant no money. On those nights we’d boil water and take that for our meal. We’d sit around and cry with Mother. The next morning she’d leave with her basket of tomatoes, praying to be blessed with money to buy food for thirteen aching bellies.
Mother (RIP) worked hard as a single mother to raise eight biological children, and four orphans, who she took in from the village. AIDS was rampant, and every day another father passed away. My father passed when I was seven years old. Before he died, we’d eat meat and drink soda at Christmas. But after he died, we stayed hungry for days. We missed school and on the days we did go, we walked eight miles. Watching the living fathers ride on their bikes to school meetings was heart-wrenching. I cried and cried saying to myself, "Why God, did my dad leave us so soon?" At home I cried in a closet, wiping away the tears. I promised God if he helps me to study and get some money, I will help orphans no matter what it takes.
When I finished primary school, there was no money for high school, but my aunt, who was hustling in Kampala, prayed in a church that built a school. My aunt spoke to the pastor, and he took me from the village to school. It was like a miracle to go. I worked in the school gardens to pay my fees. I studied hard for four years, emerging as the best student.
I went on to study information technology at the best university in Uganda. Things became much better. My mother was a trained nurse, and she happened to get some money from her father to open a clinic. She started to give me little money to help out. When I returned to the village, Mum would call me into a room and sit me down privately, “Daughter, go, study hard.” She’d place the money in my palm, “Here is the only money I have. Use it wisely.”
On a good season, Mother gave me approximately 30,000 shillings. That is like 1 dollar for my upkeep. On bad seasons, I could get half a dollar or less. Every time I got the money I thought of the little ones in our neighborhood who were struggling more than me. I would go to the shop and buy books and pencils and give them out to orphans in every home I visited. When I left to return to Uni, the lovely kids would cling to me, crying, saying, “You are leaving us. We are going to miss you. Please buy for us bread, shoes, bags, toys...” This could break my heart.
All I could do was promise to support them if I finish my education.
... the lovely kids would cling to me, crying, saying, “You are leaving us. We are going to miss you. Please buy for us bread, shoes, bags, toys...” This could break my heart.”
A Place for Orphans to Come Together & Support One Another
I had a dream to set up a place where orphans could come together and support one another. With my mother’s help (she provided 60% of the funds), we bought land to set up a home. As we set out to build this dream, there were times when I struggled with self-pity and doubt about our mission. But my Mother’s words always inspired me to keep going: “The hand that giveth is more blessed than the hand that receives.”
Sadly, my mother passed away. But our dreams live on together. Since building One Love, we have gone on to register the Agape Love foundation and Agape Love nursery and Primary school based in Fort-Portal, Western Uganda. We have constructed a home for orphans called Agape Love Home where 14 girls and 7 boys are housed. The school has 190 learners, where 50% are vulnerable and orphaned children. The orphans get free and quality education. We support them with food, basic needs and scholastic materials.
We are blessed to witness many orphans become successful teachers, business owners, builders, and government employees. And part of our mission is for them to give back and help other orphans to rise up and achieve their dreams. Which they are doing wholeheartedly.
Being an orphan is painful, and it can lead to long-term psychological problems like depression and anxiety. As a child, I was at risk of these problems, but I learned to deal with my sense of loss and focus on helping others. I am determined to do what I can to help these children get the education they need to build better lives for themselves. Then pass that on to others.
Meet Sheilla Amanya & Support The Orphans
My name is Sheilla Amanya founder and Director of Agape Love foundation and Agape Love nursery and Primary school based in Fort-Portal, Western Uganda.
Be a blessing by donating or sponsoring a child's education. The project is kept alive by anyone sponsoring a child, supporting us with food, and/or helping to pay the teachers to keep teaching these kids. I have over 100 kids. Orphans study for free. If I get anyone to support them, it would be nice. The project is kept alive by anyone sponsoring a child, supporting us with food, and helping to pay the teachers to keep teaching these kids. I have over 100 kids. Orphans study for free. If I get anyone to support them, it would be nice.
Connect with me here: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100066207507262
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