“My name is Qasasa Ayeha, I was born on the 23rd of July, 1973, Mother of two boys born on 1998 and 2002 respectively, but take care of seven children in total. I started living in Namuwongo in February 2007 after a long illness, following my husband’s death. Due to my illness, I had lost all my possessions and I could not afford to rent a better home and feed the children as well, so I decided to reside in the slum. Also, business tends to do well in the slum because of the congestion of dwellers. So I started a small business of selling purified boiled water to drink (I’m proud to announce that by then I pioneered this venture and I taught many people the goodness of safe water).
In the slum, I saw it as my obligation to teach the young children 4-15 years the dangers of being exposed to alcohol and the other spirits they were drinking by then. Later, I also sensitized them on health matters, e.g. by then there was a cholera outbreak and I explained to them about the dangers of eating potentially infected snacks on the streets. I taught them to be friends, not enemies, and this reduced violent fighting in the area. I taught them of their rights and explained to them that they were still children who needed care and that they needed a platform to address their matters. Children could seek refuge to me as things turned violent at their homes e.g. bad fighting between parents, corporal punishment .
My devotion to the children of Namuwongo blossomed when Dr. Sophie came to my area to conduct her routine de-warming program. That very day she used my veranda as a clinic, and my job started there and then. I think Sophie liked my knowledge on health issues, my ability to teach and the fact that I was already teaching so many children as my own initiative. We discussed the idea of teaching the many school-aged children were not at school even though the government of Uganda has a policy of “free education for all”. I accepted to join the program, but unfortunately I fell ill with malaria and could not start right away. I started after one month, after Dr. Sophie had already left, so she didn’t get a chance to see me do what I love the most – being with the children. Before Sophie left she introduced me to the new Drs who came to volunteer – Dr. Assaf and Dr. Shiri, to the young Israeli volunteers – Naama, Avia and Anat and to the team of local, volunteers who were already active.
On my first day at school, I couldn’t believe my eyes seeing a group of 30 kids sitting in an open space waiting for someone to teach them, this sight really touched me and I felt the urge to make the change. In the beginning there were many local volunteers, but as we proceeded and as there was need for long term commitments and regularity, they dropped out one by one till only few remained. Then started the other challenges and difficulties which caused us to shift the school several times, and we were very discouraged, but I wanted to fulfill my promise to Dr. Sophie. Also, Resty and I could not give up because most parents had already seen a little light burning in their children and they were ready to give us any assistance to ensure that their children remained in the school. When Shiri, Hadar and Yasmin built the center for us we called it Little Light Kindergarten and it really is a light to our community.
So that is my story of how I became a nurse, a teacher, a counselor and a refuge on all matters concerning children.”