After sitting for her Primary Leaving Examinations at Kumi Girls Primary School in 1995, Budesta Adeke looked towards a bright future. She was excited, like many of her colleagues.
When the results came back, she enrolled at Wiggins Senior Secondary School in Kumi District the next year for Senior One. However, after completing the first term, she was devastated to learn that her father, who was singlehandedly raising her could no longer afford to pay the school fees.
“I was heartbroken after learning that there was no money for tuition,” she says.
Left without a choice, Adeke dropped out of school and stayed home. A few months later, Adeke discovered she was pregnant at 17. The boy responsible for the pregnancy was Vincent Koloro, a Senior Three student, who was also studying at Wiggins Senior Secondary School.
“I definitely knew that I was pregnant after noticing that I had missed my menstruation period for several months and my belly was slowly expanding. When I learnt this, I became very worried and scared,” she says.
Despite the fear, Adeke did not consider having an abortion. She decided to keep the baby and deal with the consequences. Sooner than later, her father got to know of the pregnancy.
“He was annoyed and very bitter with me. I remember him telling me that just because he could not afford tuition, it was not an excuse for me to get pregnant,” she recalls.
Over time, the relationship between father and daughter became so strained that they were not talking. This rift began taking a toll on her psychologically. At this point, Adeke believed it was probably best to leave home and join Koloro, who had accepted full responsibility of the pregnancy and her wellbeing.
“I left home eventually and went to stay with Koloro’s stepmother who took great care of me until I gave birth,” she says.
After the delivery, Koloro and Adeke rented an apartment in Kumi. The new parental responsibilities could not permit Koloro to continue school. He dropped out after sitting Senior Four exams in 1996. He opted to do different casual jobs in order to make ends meet. He later focused on farming.
Another baby and returning to school
Later, at 21, Adeke gave birth to a second baby. Her sister-in-law occassionally came to their home to help look after the child. As the baby grew, Adeke thought of going back to school.
“I was getting tired of being at home only doing house chores, farming and looking after the children. I wanted to do something challenging for myself, and just like that, the idea of returning to school slowly creept into my mind,” she says.
Adeke shared the idea of returning to school with her husband.
“He welcomed the concept and promised to fully support me during my journey,” she says.
In 2002, when the baby was a few months old, Adeke enrolled for Senior One at Kumi High School as a day scholar. After learning about her return to school, Adeke’s father was very happy about the milestone.
“He reached out to me and we talked about our issues. He forgave me and we mended fences,” she says.
Juggling school and duties at home
Life was not a bed of roses throughout Adeke’s four years in Kumi High School where she was also an academic prefect from senior One to Four. Balancing education and home obligations was not easy.
“I would get up early in the morning, prepare myself and the children and proceed to cook breakfast and sometimes what the children and my husband would have for lunch. Afterwards, I would rush to school. On some occasions, I would come back home at lunch time to check on the garden work and the children who would either be under the care of my sister-in-law or husband,” she says.
After her classes ended in the evening, she returned home to bathe the children, prepared supper and squeezed in some time for reading.
Although things were not easy, Adeke says she persevered because of her children.
“I kept telling myself to hang in there for their sake. I knew they would be proud to have an educated mother but also, one who can put her qualifications to use whenever an opportunity came up,” she says.
In 2005, Adeke completed Senior Four and later joined Lakeside College Luzira for A-Level. After completing this, she enrolled for a diploma in accountancy at Uganda College of Commerce (UCC) in Soroti District. She graduated in 2010 after studying for two years.
The couple now has five children together. The youngest is four months old. They now live in their own house in Boma Ward Parish in Kumi. Like her husband, she now concentrates on farm work, growing different crops including peas and white sorghum.
Adeke was one of the winners of Nile Breweries Limited’s Kickstart awards, an initiative geared towards promoting agri-business and commercial agriculture in Uganda.
Advice to other women
Adeke, now 40 years, says bearing children should not be end for women.
“In fact, your children should motivate you to double the efforts and work harder,” she says.
Her husband says
“When Budesta came to me the first time and shared her thoughts of going back to school, I was impressed. Usually, when some women have children, they think it is the end of the world for them, so when Budesta informed me about her plan, I was captivated and agreed to it. I ensured that I worked very hard, especially on the farm in order to get money to support her educational needs and our young growing children. My only worry came when she went for boarding school at Lakeside College Luzira and later joined Uganda College of Commerce. I was concerned that some better looking or even rich man would snatch her away from me. But I am happy she came back to me. Budesta is heaven-sent. She is not only hardworking but also focused and respectful.”