Catherine Ninsiima, the 10-year-old who walked 350km from Bushenyi District to Namugongo to celebrate Martyrs Day has got people to sponsor her education.
This follows a Monitor publication of the oldest and youngest pilgrims on Friday and an earlier article about her walk of faith. In the Friday story, Ninsiima speaks about her inspiration to walk to Namugongo.
“This is my first time walking to Namugongo. My main aim of walking is to pray for God’s blessings so that my mum can find fees for us since dad walked out on us when I was 9 years old. I pray that my father gets the spirit of coming back home since we are all missing him,’’ she said.
On May 24, this publication covered the story of Ninsiima, who walked for 11 days from Kizinga Village, Bushenyi District in Mbarara Diocese to Namugongo, for the celebrations.
Ninsiima said she braved the long walk of faith to cleanse herself spiritually and to have all her prayer requests answered.
She said she walked so that God can provide her with school fees and return her father who had reportedly walked out on them [family]. The story caught the attention of the public and Ugandans on Twitter and Facebook solicited Shs2,360,000 for her startup.
Others have sent emails to this publication seeking to help her.
One of her sponsors also bought Ninsiima’s mother a smartphone to ease her communication. The token of the smartphone and money was handed to Ninsiima in the company of her aunt, Ms Jovita Busingye, whom she trekked with.
“Thank you so much for giving me school fees, I am overjoyed by what you people have done for me,” Ninsiima told this publication yesterday.
Ninsiima, a Primary Four pupil who wants to become a nurse, promised to study hard and complete her education.
Dr Fredrick Kizito, a Ugandan living in America and one of the people sponsoring Ninsiima’s education, told this publication yesterday that he is going to cater for the girl’s education.
“I am sponsoring Ninsiima’s education because when you educate a girl, you open opportunities for many people around her,” Dr Kizito said in a telephone interview.
Mr Elly Turyamuhaki, another volunteer, promised to pay her school fees for the whole of this year. Mr Turyamuhaki, who also bought the smartphone for Ninsiima’s mother, said: “I have spoken to her mother and her headteacher. I will be transferring the school fees to her school on Tuesday (tomorrow). We want her to have an education like many other children.”
Mr Joseph Ndawula, a Ugandan living in China, said he is going to support the education of Ninsiima as long as he is still alive. “I was raised by a single mother, my childhood was not rosy, but I would tell my mother that things will be all right. So helping such a young girl is the only way I can pay back to God,” Mr Ndawula said.
Mr Gabriel Buule, a journalist at the Monitor, who led the campaign to raise money for Ninsiima on social media, said in any society, it is very dangerous to neglect girl-child education.
“When you educate a girl-child, you give them an opportunity to think and make better decisions. So, whenever there is an opportunity to help, we should be helping children,” Mr Buule said.
Mr Buule said he started the #Fees for Ninsiima campaign to bring hope to Ugandans that some small issues can be handled by Ugandans themselves.
“It is not proper for us to keep looking at a child walking all that distance praying for school fees and go back empty-handed, so we have become the answer to her prayers, and we have changed her life,” he said.
Ms Busingye said when they used to walk to Namugongo, they would get certificates and Ninsiima liked it, so this time round, she told the mother that she wanted to move with them.
“The journey is a long one and she is just a child, sometimes, she would get tired but I kept encouraging her. We would pray and I told her to ask God for strength and we finally made it,” she said.
“I am even out of words, I cannot believe what people have done for my sister’s child. Indeed God works in mysterious ways,” Ms Busingye said.
She added: “Walking to Namugongo means you have faith, if you don’t have faith, you cannot walk all those kilometres.”
Every year, thousands of pilgrims from far and near walk to Namugongo to celebrate the annual Martyrs Day on June 3.