by Justine Ojambo, Executive Director, PEFO and 2014 Give a Day speaker
Greetings from PEFO (Pheobe Education Fund for Orphans in Uganda). It was a great pleasure meeting you last year, our dear friends that have supported PEFO through SLF and the Give a Day campaign. Memories of meeting and talking to you will always be part of me. Your donations through SLF continue to enable PEFO to give hope and allow AIDS orphans to live in dignity and fulfillment. On behalf of PEFO, I want to share with you the story of Yesse Shafic, an orphan who has gone through great pain as a result of losing both his parents to HIV/AIDS and had lost hope in life. But with your support through SLF, PEFO has been able to help orphans like Yesse access education and regain their dignity in our communities. Yesse is an example of the many thousands of orphans whom PEFO has been able to support through your donations over the years. Without your donations orphans like Yesse would have no meaning in life. Through your support PEFO is enabling orphans like Yesse to access education and support and remain in school. It’s this education that will form a strong foundation for their adult life. Thank you for being a Give a Day supporter.
Justine Ojambo, Executive Director, PEFO and 2014 Give a Day speaker
Below we share a story of one of the children supported under the PEFO SLF funded Education project. Yesse is just one of the children among many thousands that have suffered the impact of HIV/AIDS right from their early childhood.
Yesse Shafic is a 17 year old student at Njeru secondary school. He was born in Buikwe district, Uganda. At the age of 9 years, he lost both his parents to HIV/AIDS. Yesse assumed the role of parenting his two younger siblings when their parents died. He was too young to know what to do. He opted for casual labour in the neighbouring homes and farms to provide food for his siblings. Unfortunately, his siblings were sickly; they too were positive and sadly they both died under his care. This worried him and he decided to go for an HIV test all by himself to confirm his status, fortunately his results came back negative.
Shortly after his siblings died, the landlord visited to ask him to find relatives to stay with as he needed the house to rent out to people who were able to pay the bills. It’s then that Yesse realized the house was never theirs. He had run out of food and sold everything sellable to keep him surviving and in school. He cried every time he thought about the fact that he may one day be forced to drop out of school. He wanted to study a health related course so that he could contribute to the fight against HIV/AIDS. He spoke with his head teacher about his situation. The head teacher was kind but also very poor. He offered to meet Yesse’s school costs such as examination fees and meals at school but he could not take him in for accommodation, he hardly had enough space for his own family. He helped Yesse trace his maternal uncle. This uncle and his wife took Yesse in. They were not rich but they loved him just like their other two children.
However, his uncle’s wife died just a year after from HIV/AIDS. The uncle married another woman quite soon. His new wife didn’t want to support Yesse or the children from his first wife. She mistreated all of them and when Yesse’s uncle become sick and weak, he could not fight for them. He soon died and his second wife sent both Yesse and his cousins away from the home. The maternal relatives of his cousins took them in but they didn’t take Yesse, he was not their relative. Homeless, he moved from place to place at night. His best friend at school felt pity for him and spoke with his mother to accommodate him and his mother accepted and gave Yesse accommodation. He started calling her aunt and she played the role of being a true aunt to him.
When Yesse reached form 7 (his final year of primary school), his performance was promising. He was excited about his final year in primary school but the costs of form 7 were high, so his aunt sought support for him from PEFO. Yesse was enrolled in the SLF Education Programme which covered his school fees for him. When it came time for National examinations Yesse knew the National Examination Board requires all students to be in uniform during the exams, yet Yesse had neither uniform nor shoes on his feet. When Yesse picked up his money for his National examinations, he took it and used it as capital for a business. He bought some silver fish and hawked them door to door to raise money for his additional costs. After two weeks Yesse was able to make a profit and buy himself a uniform. When the Primary Living Exams (PLE) results were returned, Yesse had emerged the best from his school. Yesse’s determination to excel prompted PEFO to meet Yesse’s full tuition for secondary school to allow him focus on his education.
His aunt relocated to Kampala after a divorce but she continues to pay his rent and provide food.
Yesse says that “I feel so good because every day I go to school. I’m very grateful to PEFO and my new aunt for the support. I want to become a midwife after my first degree to help protect the new born babies from HIV/AIDS during delivery”.