Thomas Balya Bugembe founded Maryhill Kindergarten and Junior School in Sonde, Uganda in 2006 with just 37 students, holding lessons in two rooms on a rented plot of land. Determined to provide a better education for his students, Thomas obtained a series of Opportunity International loans. As a result of his hard work and passion for education, Thomas purchased his own land and constructed both a kindergarten block as well as a main hall for the school which now serves 356 students. Thomas’ dream to educate Ugandan students is evident through his efforts to improve the school which has attracted 14 highly qualified teachers and local families.
Thomas provides year-round dormitories and told us, “It is my calling to be their family… so I do not leave them.” We asked how he is able to support the school when 20 percent of them don’t pay tuition. In his loving and humble manner he explained, “…with God’s help we find the resources to make it work.”
His future plans include building a school library, providing computers and technological training to the students, and expanding the school to three separate institutions: one building each for day students, boarding students, and kindergarten students. Thomas desires to give his students a holistic educational experience, offering a well-rounded academic curriculum as well as emphasizing the importance of proper hygiene by cleaning the students’ shoes and uniforms before they return home each day. Thomas is confident that his partnership with Opportunity will allow him to continue to provide more educational opportunities and a brighter future for Ugandan students. Read more about Opportunity’s education finance work.
Desmond Tutu once said that family is “God’s gift to you, as you are to them.” It is clear that Thomas Balya Bugembe’s students at Maryhill are a part of his family. They are a gift to him that he refuses to leave behind or let get forgotten. This holiday season Opportunity International will be focused on empowering leaders who, just like Thomas, put family first.