“I knew without proper education, his life would turn out bleak,” Anna said of her grandnephew. “I had to do everything within my reach to help him go to school and learn.”
The 72-year-old Ugandan woman took over the care of Fred when he was just 8 months old after the untimely death of his parents. Fred’s mother was Anna’s niece, whom Anna also cared for. Growing up, Fred has always just referred to Anna as his grandmother.
Anna found herself in a position to help her extended family after the end of her 29-year marriage. Anna’s husband, a polygamist, banished her from his home because Anna did not bear him children. She moved in with her ailing brother who soon died, leaving his children and grandchildren, Fred among them, in her care.
Despite being a skilled mat weaver, Anna didn’t have time to dedicate to the craft with a young child to take care of. Instead, Anna turned to making and selling pancakes as a means of supporting her young grandnephew. Unfortunately, it was not enough to meet the needs of a growing boy and the pair struggled.
Neighbors encouraged her to seek help from a nearby church, and the priest there told her about Unbound.
After social workers from the local Unbound program saw the difficult living conditions Anna and Fred faced, they enrolled Fred in the sponsorship program.
Unbound sponsorship drastically improved the quality of Fred’s life both in and out of the classroom.
“I was so happy when Fred got sponsored,” Anna said. “His school fees and school supplies were fully catered for. He used to sleep on the floor, but now he has a bed, with blankets.”
With school fees and supplies taken care of, Anna, too, made changes.
She took part in a mothers group organized by Unbound. The group’s name, Tusitukirewamu, translates to “Rise together.” When she joined the mothers group, her love for weaving was revived. The women encourage each other to make use of their talents to improve their lives and find ways to earn income.
As Fred grew older and started attending school, Anna had the time to put her talents to work. Anna began selling handmade mats and hopes to continue growing her business. Fred appreciates the care and love he’s received from Anna.
“I want to be a doctor when I grow up,” Fred said. “I want to give my grandmother a good life; she has been there for me and I would not want her to suffer,” he added.
Because of her age, Anna decided to search out Fred’s family from his father’s side. She has been getting weaker, and wanted to make sure Fred would be provided for even when she’s gone. Anna found Fred’s other relatives in the central part of Uganda, including his grandmother and uncles.
When his relatives saw the struggles Anna faced in providing for Fred, they offered to take on the responsibility of caring for him and sending him to school. Because they were able to take care of his needs, Fred no longer needed sponsorship through Unbound.
Fred calls Anna on a regular basis to let her know how he’s doing and to update her on his progress in school. Anna’s making plans to visit Fred sometime this year.
Though she no longer attends the mothers group meetings, members from the group continue to visit and make sure she is doing well. Anna is grateful for Fred’s sponsorship. It provided for his well-being and created lasting change in both their lives.
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