Tamara White met John Sekito in 2007 when she was interviewing child laborers in and around Mulajje Village, Luweero DIstrict, Uganda. At 17 years old, John was the oldest of three children who had been orphaned by AIDS and were being raised by their paternal great grandmother. John's story is not unique. He and his siblings were unable to attend school on a regular basis because they were frequently sent home and told not to return to school until they paid their school fees. John and his siblings would spend most of their days clearing land for local farmers who paid them less than 50 cents a day. But all too frequently John, his brother Asharif, and sister Farida would come to find at the end of a long day of heavy labor that the farmer refused to pay them at all and, as children, there was nothing they could say or do other than walk away and go home. John and his siblings were among the first students whose education was sponsored with the proceeds from the piggery AsOne Global built in Mulajje Village in 2008. Unfortunately, his great grandmother died that same year. He went on to attend a government school and became a teacher intent on helping students suffering the same effects of extreme poverty he faced as a child. Since starting his own school in 2013, John has worked with the parents of his students to find ways to collectively ensure that no student is ever sent home when a family cannot afford school fees. AsOne Global is currently working on constructing a new building for Sekito Primary School as well as a piggery which will generate the income needed to sustain the cost of running the school for years to come.
Sekito Primary School is located in Wobulenzi Town, Luweero District, Uganda. It is a pre-primary or nursery and primary school that goes up to primary three now. I started this school in 2013 after realizing that there are many poor parents and guardians who wanted to educate their children but, due to lack of money, they couldn't. By then I was a teacher in one of the private schools around here and many of the poor children were being expelled from school because their parents could not afford to pay. This could always make me upset and feel bad, though I could do nothing. I thought to use my salary to pay for them school but I couldn't afford even two children. So I tried to help only one. They were paying $90000 UGX ($27.00 US) per child per three-month term, and I was paid 110000 ($33.00) per month. I remember finding some of the expelled kids at home not studying and others working has helpers at construction sites. All this could remind me the old days of mine when I was a child laborer. There I realized that I could help many kids to get education if I made a school. This is where the idea of making a school starts from. And a school of poor people.
So I used the little money I had and paid rent for a place I was going to put the school. I bought some text books, used iron sheets and wood for some two classes. ln December 2012, I started moving from home to home in searching for kids. I registered about 45 kids. Most the parents were fearing but I told them that together we can succeed. ln the beginning of the first term, in 2013, only 11 kids reported. Then I bought five old desks because before I all I could afford was to dig a hole, get short poles and put on a wood. And that was a chair for them to sit and write.
Well school started. I started alone as a teacher and I remember the first two weeks we didn't have a cook so I cooked with the help of some 3 kids who were older. Each child would come to school with a piece of firewood every day. Later on I got one teacher and a cook. By third term, kids had reached 29.
In November 2013, I was in the hospital taking care of my younger brother who was dying and I was called that the landlord had taken things claiming that I was not paying rent. I came and found it true. i went to police and reported. The police called the landlord and he confirmed that I was not paying rent. Good enough I had all the documents of payment bearing his signature and witnesses. I showed them to the police and the landlord was ashamed. I was advised at the police to forgive and leave his place. This advice I took. Therefore in 2014 I left his place and rent another neighboring place where I am now.
In December 2014,I bought a small piece of land which I was paying in installments. Then last term I started digging the pit for an outhouse as I wanted to shift the school immediately after getting tired of the new landlord's behavior.
Kids report here every day in the morning and lessons begin at 7:30am. They come out for break at 10:00am. They enter classes again at 11:00am until 1:00pm. At this time the nursery section goes back home and the rest of the kids enter for other lessons at 2:00pm. They get out at 3:30pm and they go back home at exactly 4:00pm. So we call it a day.
FEEDING: since the school began in 2013 I have been giving them porridge and if porridge is not available, I could give them tea with some little sugar. But in porridge I could not afford to give sugar. Those who go back at 1:00pm take porridge it at 10:00am and the rest take it 1:00pm. This term feeding changed with donations from ASONE Global. All kids take porridge with sugar if it is there at 10:00am and those who goes back at 4:00pm eat POSHO with beans.