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Uganda: Case Study: Marion Ssewajje.

Name: Marion Ssewajje  Age: 17  Class: S2 Boarding student

Marion is a vivacious teenager with big aspirations for the future, and hopes to continue to S5 and S6 after finishing at St Denis in order to study journalism. If she fails to make the grades or doesn’t manage to fund herself through college, her back up plan is to run a hair salon in the footsteps of her mum. She currently spends the long summer holidays with mum who lives 4 hours away in the capital, Kampala. She is studying from St Denis because her Dad lives in the nearby village of Kyamukama and works as a teacher. He supplements his teaching income with subsistence farming, as many rural teachers do.

Marion’s favorite subject at school is English, which is easy to tell since her spoken English is extremely confident and fluent. She isn’t so keen on Geography or Chemistry since she finds them a bit of a struggle. Her favorite teacher is Master Ssenabula, the Biology teacher, since he’s very friendly and offers his students good advice.

   Varnish, leave to dry and finish

I became interested in Marion because I saw the school secretary wearing a beautiful beaded necklace, which she said she bought from Marion in S2. When I asked her about it, Marion told me that her mum is part of a cooperative of women who make beaded necklaces out of colored paper and sell them either locally or to an American organization that sends them abroad. Marion has started making her own necklaces when she stays with her mum during the holidays and sells them to friends and other community members for 4000 shillings (just under $2) each. She buys small glass beads for 2000 shillings per large packet and threads them along side her own beads made from rolled up magazine pages in bright colors which are then hardened in varnish. I’m always thrilled to see students using their initiative to make some extra pocket money, which is a big boost to Marion, because she is one of 12 children being supported by her mum and dad, and needs to fund her own day to day needs such as soap and school supplies.

Marion’s favorite singer is R Kelly and her favorite song is “Hands across the world.”


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