If you look at a map of East Africa and locate the point where Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo come together, you will see where I was born and raised. In that remote corner of southwestern Uganda we had neither running water nor electricity. People, including my parents Stella and Simon, survived by subsistence agriculture. Like many of our neighbors, they were functionally illiterate.
But they were not content just to survive. They were absolutely fanatic – a strong word but the right one – about education for all six of their children. To earn money for school fees, Simon went away for months to work as a laborer in Kampala, the capital of Uganda. Used books are sold in the street there, and he would buy large volumes to bring back home because they looked important. Some turned out to be in French or German, but we never told him they were useless to us.
Meanwhile Stella bought and sold land, ran a small store, and did anything else she could think of to earn money so we could go to school. Along with reverence for education, my mother taught me something even more important; she taught me to help other people. Poor as we were, there was always food in the evening for our poorer neighbors. Although our house was small, there was always room for abused wives and abandoned children. As a child I sometimes resented her boundless generosity but today it inspires me to lead the foundation that bears her name.
When my brother died of malaria in 2006 leaving seven children, I stepped in to make sure these nieces and nephews received an education. And when I saw how it transformed their lives, I became even more resolute to expand my mother’s work to the wider world. In my heart, I know that my mother would be proud that we are doing just what she may have done given our opportunity. Of course we cannot transform education in Uganda, but we can help as many children as possible to achieve what I did because of my mother’s faith in its transforming power.
PASSION . COMPASSION . REAL CHANGE
Florence Kamahoro - Goulet
President . Board Chair
Stella - Rosie Foundation