Looking back, 11-year-old Acan remembers having a pale life. She had few clothes for herself, only a dress, which was tattered, and her school uniform.
In their small hut in rural Uganda, she and her two brothers slept on old mats weaved of papyrus fibers with secondhand bed sheets. The children had no mosquito nets to protect them from insects, and Acan fell ill to malaria repeatedly, affecting her performance at school.
“I never knew the importance of an education,” says Acan. “Being the only girl in the family, I was at home helping my parents with chores and garden work.”
Because her family’s only access to water was an unprotected, swampy area 100 meters from their home, Acan also suffered stomachaches. She was malnourished, vulnerable to disease and lacking any confidence in her future.
Thanks to her ChildFund sponsor, Acan now says her life has completely transformed. She sleeps in a real bed, on a real mattress with a treated mosquito net for protection. Although her school is 2 kilometers away and she must walk, Acan is thankful she is actually able to attend.
“I always make sure I get up very early in the morning and do small domestic chores before I walk to school. That way I can still help my mother,” says Acan.
“I have really progressed well with my education. Last term, I was the 10th out of 146 pupils in our class, but I am working very hard to be number one! My favorite subject is English and I know I can have a bright future.”
On Saturdays, Acan fetches water for her family, now from a protected source, completely forgetting the stomachaches, which used to disturb her always. She also fetches firewood for her family and helps her mother wash dishes and bathe her two brothers.
“I always have much time to do domestic chores on Saturday since we don’t go to school on that day,” says Acan. “But sometimes, if there is not much work at home, I get to play dodgeball with my friends.”
Without help from her sponsor, Acan would have likely dropped out of school and married at a young age. She would still have tattered clothes, a poor diet and none of the opportunities she has today.
“Thanks to ChildFund, I look at life smiling because I am healthy, confident and know my rights as a girl for the future.”