A children’s home changed my fortunes forever

Proscovia Naluyima Ssewankambo is a lawyer, farmer, businesswoman and real estate developer. The 33-year-old is an alumni of the SOS children's village in Kakiri, which took her on when she was eight after her father’s death.

Saturday March 19 2016

Proscovia Naluyima Ssewankambo (R)  is an alumni of SOS.

Proscovia Naluyima Ssewankambo (R) is an alumni of the SOS Kakiri. Left, children play at the centre. 

By Beatrice Nakibuuka

“I’m the sixth born in a family of nine children. My journey to SOS children's home started after my father’s death in 1990 when I was eight. We lived in Nyenga, a village in Mukono, and used to go to good schools in Jinja.

After my father’s death, my mother was not certain about our future because she was HIV positive and she knew she did not have so long to live.

Our eldest sister, who was then about 20 years old, had got married but she was not financially well off. The second eldest brother, who was at Busoga College Mwiri had to drop out of school to run the spare parts business my father had left us to help out with the family income.

My mother was stranded with taking care of us with the little education and low income she had when an aunt of ours tipped her off about the SOS villages.

Joining the child homes was a long process but ours got a little more complicated when we were featured on television. In 1991, SOS came home and interviewed my mother about why she wanted us to be taken to the child homes and the interview was aired on television.

My paternal family was not happy with my mother, insisting that she was embarrassing them making it seem to the public that they were too poor to take care of us. But mother firmly retained her resolve to admit us to the homes because she felt it was what was best for us.

Life at the child home
My youngest brother, sister and I were finally able to go to the home in Kakiri and the life there was very different from how we used to live at home. Everyone had a wardrobe, a bed, good meals and the home mother used to take care of us very well. My brother was always sickly and died when he was 12 years old.

My mother remained sickly too but had to take care of the other children who had remained back home. She also continued to visit us and each time, I asked her when I could return home with her to join my other siblings.

Although we were given everything at the home, I wanted to go home. I thought it was just a matter of my mother finding us another father and then taking us back home. She had explained to me that this was the safest place for us because she could not take care of us.

The mother at the child home treated us like we were her own children. She taught us to farm, we were taught to do crafts, and we had to do chores and had a duty roster. I remember a time when I was pulled out of a Maths lesson because I had dodged my duty.

She told me that one day I would appreciate why she had done that and indeed I learnt a lesson. I should have thanked her for how she raised me but she died when I was 14.

Chosen to study at abroad
My mother who passed on in 2001 had told us to behave well and when we did, all the good opportunities were given to us. My sister and I were chosen to go to SOS International School in Ghana. I did exams where I was competing with over 200 other pupils and I emerged the ninth.

The kind of programme I was put through and the people I met there inspired me and I was determined to become a lawyer. When I completed six years there, I went to South Africa for my Law Degree course.

I came back to Uganda in 2009 and enrolled at Law Development Centre to be able to practice law here.

I thought the three-year setback would be too long for me so I thought of doing something else. The next year, I got married and was soon expecting. I decided to stay home and look after my baby but I have been doing businesses on the side.

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