Posted by: Stephen Palmer | June 27, 2008

One Man’s Struggle For Education

Contributed by Eric Dowd

In our MTA class we have finished As a Man Thinketh by James Allen. The students have really taken to it. Humphrey says that the idea of thinking positively occupies his mind most of the time. “Has it made a difference?” I asked him last Wednesday. “Oh, yes,” he replied. “My wife likes me more.”

This sounds like a cute little story at first glance until one gets to know a little of the society here. The family structure has become a place where it isn’t uncommon for children and spouses to fear one another. Rape and abuse are fairly common inside the home and the structure isn’t set up to be able to handle it. There are very few (and in many places no) places for abused spouses or children to find help. If a parent is arrested, then the remaining family suffers because of the loss of income. To see loving homes like Humphrey’s is a big deal, especially when one understands that a successful society is based on a strong family unit.

I’m proud of Humphrey and the fact that he has been discussing what he learns in class with his wife. All of the people here are simply amazing.

I had the opportunity to have a mentor meeting with one of the students, Nasser. Nasser, a disabled Muslim, is the headmaster of a school. He was in an accident many years back and is forced to walk with a cane due to a broken bone in his leg that healed incorrectly. He told me a story that I would like to share with all of you.

There was a student at Bweyogerere whose parents died before he could complete S-6 (the last grade of high school). Because he could no longer pay school fees he was kicked out of school. His older sister sent him to work with a shoe maker in Nairobi. The young man wanted to be able to save his earnings so he could go back to school, but the shoe maker treated the school drop-out like a slave. He paid him no money and worked him very long hours.

After a couple of years of this, the young man stole some money from his employer and made his way back home. His sister was furious with him because the man from Nairobi had been sending her money while he was there. To punish him, she treated him like a slave in his own home. He was forced to do nothing but cook, clean, haul water, and anything else she could think of.

The young man did this for some time, thinking all he wanted was to save enough money to go back and finish school. Finally, he ran away again, but he did not know where to go. He had nothing. His clothing was reduced to rags. He had no money and no place to live.

One day, Nasser was visited by a man who he did not recognize. The man was very skinny and looked extremely poor. Once the two spoke for a short while, Nasser remembered the child who had not returned to school one semester. He listened to the story of the shoe maker and how his sister had treated him. At a great sacrifice, Nasser paid the man’s school fees and bought him some new clothes. To help, the man cleaned buildings and cooked meals at Bweyogerere.

He graduated with excellent scores and went on to University where Nasser continued to pay for his school fees. This man obtained a social service degree with one goal in mind. He knew that he owed much to Nasser–more than he could ever repay. He also knew that Nasser was disabled and worked with organizations that help disabled people.

After graduating, he told Nasser that it was time to give something back; it was time to build and fund a school for the deaf at Bweyogerere. Currently this man heads the division for the Department of Education in charge of projects for educating special needs children here in Uganda.

I wish you could have seen Nasser’s smile or the way his eyes shone as he told me this story. I wish you could all visit Bweyogerere and see how happy and excited the deaf children are to have the chance to go to school. These children are considered to be good for nothing by their own families. Most of them live at the school because if they go home their own parents will not feed them.

The need for education here is beyond description and so many of them are ready for it. I cannot begin to tell you how much I look forward to every waking day–to be able to arrive in class with a book in my hands and discuss the masterful teachings of great thinkers from history. Though I have a book, many of our students do not.

Please, please, please, if you have not sent a contribution, do it now. If you have already sent one, thank you, and send another. Be like Nasser. Help educate the ignorant. Help free someone in bondage. Your life will be better for it, I promise.

Click Here To Invest In Ugandan Education


  1. Perhaps you can help these students learn to think, using examples from their every day lives. You can be sure they are gaining an education from their home experiences. The quality of such an education if highly suspect, however. Education can be better directed when each student’s aptitude in commersate with the instruction presented. In a building block fashion, higher levels of instruction may be presented as students show a readiness to receive such instruction. Removal from detrimental home enviornments would seem to be part of the solution. Money, of course, is needed. Perhaps students of the world will receive the education then need for success in life when politicians stop causing the problems they campaign against.

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