Ruth - a URDT Girls' School Changemaker
by AFPF Intern Catherine Namwezi
This is the story of Ruth, a current student at the URDT girls school. She lost her mother when she was only 10 years old in 2003 at which time her 20 year old brother took over the responsibilities of his late parents and became the head of the family. At the time the family lived in a mud house, and did not have enough food to feed the family. Losing her mother at the age of 10 was not easy for Ruth.
She had to take on her mother’s responsibilities since her older sisters dropped out of school immediately and married. She was expected to help with cooking, collecting water, cleaning the house, going to the garden, and caring for her younger sister. After 4 years of living under these dire circumstances, Ruth was invited to attend the URDT Girls' School where she learned about visioning and the importance of having a shared family vision.
Having been orphaned at a young age too, I could identify with Ruth’s story. I deeply connected with her because we had both been empowered by URDT to successfully manage and take care of our families from a very young age. When my mother died, my greatest fear was that my siblings and I would become as desolate as most orphans I knew, and that I would become the victim of child marriage, domestic violence or be denied access to even the most basic education.
"URDT tells us that we have the potential to do great things and that we have the power to change the course of our lives. Ruth and I are both examples of what it means to be Changemakers!"
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit Ruth’s home and was extremely impressed by what I saw. As a direct result of their family vision, Ruth and her brother had built a brick house with a tin roof and glass windows. They have a piggery project, a sugarcane garden, a variety of fruit trees, and grow food with a surplus for income generation. Ruth’s brother has been able to purchase a motorcycle to help with transport in the family. Her brother expressed gratitude for URDT and demonstrated with enthusiasm how they had been able to transform their lives as a family. URDT had equipped Ruth and her brother with the agricultural and entrepreneurial skills needed to attain their vision. Key to the transformation in Ruth’s family was URDT’s two-generation approach. Engaging Ruth and her brother in a common vision and teaching them about health, food security, entrepreneurship and education while offering long term support, allowed them to achieve their vision of a good house, optimal health through improved nutrition, and a steady source of income.
Now a junior in high school, Ruth is aspiring to become an accountant in the future. She speaks with tremendous pride as she will be the first high school graduate in her family. She is full of hope and focused on attaining her vision.