A Strong Young Woman

Allen Zalwango is an 18 year old young woman from Katuuso Community Academy. She was born and raised in Ssembabule district in the central part of Uganda. She and her brother, Andrew lost their parents when Allen was 16 years old. Her life changed immediately when she was put under the care of her paternal aunt who resides in Bunga, a suburb of Kampala. Having completed her O-level studies, Allen learned that she could not go on to her A-levels because her aunt no longer had enough money to pay her school fees. She was advised by her aunt to get married and forget about education. Allen’s situation worsened when her Aunt tried matchmaking her with men old enough to be her father. Despite the many setbacks that she faced, Allen did not give up her passion for education.

 Allen decided to take her future into her own hands. She went on a job hunt and was eventually hired as a shop attendant, earning $21 US dollars per month. She also left her Aunt’s place and sought shelter at a friend’s house. After four months hard work, Allen enrolled at Katuuso Community Academy for her A-level studies. At Katuuso, her friends who were members of the Educate! Social Entrepreneurship and Leadership course convinced her to join as well. She remembers the theme of her first lesson in the Educate! class: Resourcefulness.  After a week, Allen decided to put creativity into practice by using her last remaining savings to buy a $17 jerry can of kerosene. She recognized that many households in her community couldn’t afford electricity and thus used lamps for lighting, yet gas stations were not easily accessible. Allen asked her former boss to help her sell the kerosene in her shop, and quickly started making a profit of $7 per week. Using insights learnt from the Educate! Powerful Relationships lesson, she also approached the Katuuso school accountant for advice and mentorship in regards to her entrepreneurial project. 

 Though Allen was allowed to pay school fees in installments with the money earned through her kerosene venture, her brother, Andrew was forced to drop out of school due to lack of fees. Thus, Allen resourcefully used some of her savings to buy him a piglet to raise. By the end of last year, the grown pig had given birth to 12 piglets, which were sold for $8 each. Allen and her brother used the earnings to pay his school fees. During her summer vacation, Allen plans to expand her projects in order to have enough money to go to university in addition to meeting her brother’s tuition needs. In the future, Allen plans to open up an orphanage in her community.  She is also a talented musician and she plans to use her musical abilities to contribute to the fight against violence.