Sister Schools is proud of the fact that our Ugandan program is run entirely by Ugandan staff. It is so helpful to have program managers with lived experience who can personally relate to the children we serve. They are best equipped to help our kids thrive and ensure the success of our programs. It also helps that our Ugandan staff are some of the best people imaginable!
Today, we want you to meet Sheilah, our Field Coordinator.
Sheilah has worked with Sister Schools since 2017 and oversees our partnership with schools in Uganda. She manages relationships with each partner school, helps coordinate the annual distribution trips, and manages our literacy program. She also ensures each school has the materials they need, when they need them, and that every gift we ship to Uganda is utilized to its fullest potential. It is a big job that she handles with grace.
Sheilah loves being part of unlocking academic opportunities for children in Uganda. “In most primary schools here,” she says, “scholastic requirements like books, pens, pencils, rulers, reams of paper etc. are essential for acceptance into school. Seeing children walk confidently to school knowing Sister Schools has got that covered for them warms my heart immensely. The looks of excitement, hope and fulfilment on the children and teachers’ faces whenever Sister Schools delivers, is priceless.”
Sheliah is so good at what she does because she cares deeply about the children we serve. Part of her compassion comes from her own lived experience. She grew up in a big family with few resources. Sheilah remembers only ever having one school uniform, and that was always a much-mended hand-me-down from her sisters. She never got new shoes until her toes were literally sticking through the old ones – seeing her body grow felt almost like a sin because it created new expenses the family struggled to afford. She used to sell pancakes on the street corner to raise money for her own school fees, something her schoolmates teased her mercilessly for calling her “madam pancakes.”
Sheilah uses her own experience to inspire her work today. “The kids we serve remind me of my own struggles with school. It is very demoralizing for a child to study while uncertain about whether they will stay in school or not because their parents cannot afford to keep them in school. That is why I ensure that every single donation from our very generous US friends - no matter how small - reaches the students. You never know who we may be saving from selling pancakes to stay in school.”
Despite the hardships she faced growing up, Sheilah remembers her childhood fondly. Her parents constantly encouraged their children to dream big and fostered curious minds with interesting stories at home. All 11 siblings in Sheilah’s family now have college degrees, which is an incredible achievement and testament to their own hard work and their parents' dedication.
Having worked so hard to achieve success for herself, Sheilah is proud to help young people today overcome similar challenges. She’s especially proud to see the impact we are making for girls in Uganda. “It is no secret that if a parent in Uganda has to choose between educating their boy child or their girl child they will choose to educate the boy child,” she explains, “but Sister Schools is bridging that gap through providing the school requirements for these kids free!”
In addition to her committed work with Sister Schools, Sheilah is a proud mama of three children. Her oldest is super-hero-loving, 14-year-old Maurice. His favorite subject is math – he helps his mom keep track of the family finances which is great practice for his dream of becoming an accountant. Next is her little princess, 9-year-old Malaika. Malaika loves music, fashion, and baking, and, depending on the day, wants to be either a doctor or a chef or a teacher when she grows up. Finally, there is smiley baby Myles, born earlier this year. He’s growing wonderfully, not sleeping as much as Sheila would like, and brings the family great joy.
As a Ugandan mother, Sheilah says “It is very inspiring and encouraging to know that there are people out there like the Sister Schools community other than us Ugandans who care enough to help improve the world our children are growing up in.”
We’re so lucky to have Sheilah on our team!