M7 hails First Lady’s corruption free leadership

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has hailed the First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports, Maama Janet Museveni for spearheading a corruption free leadership in Uganda which has helped to save the country’s resources and also shaped the way leadership should be.

While speaking at celebrations to mark 76 years of the First Lady at Masulita Children’s Village in Wakiso district on Thursday 27th June 2024, under the theme: “Celebrating 76 Years of Excellence”, President Museveni showered praises on the First Lady for cleaning up the corruption vices wherever she has worked, giving an example of Karamoja and the Ministry of Education.

“When she joined politics, me I did not support it because I thought she was not political, but I can testify that she has brought a corruption free leadership,” H.E Museveni said, giving an example of Karamoja where local governments were getting Shs 800 million each but had nothing to show on ground including providing water to the population.

“She had to start a war of resistance against those groups there. Then she came to the Ministry of Education where one of the big wars she had to fight was the war of furniture. One of your people was importing furniture from India, imagine! yet they were local furniture people who wanted to sell, and she had to fight that war. This one I can testify that when she joined politics, she said God had told her and indeed God used her to do some good work in Karamoja and now in the Ministry of education,” the President noted.

H.E Museveni congratulated the First Lady on clocking 76 years of age, further thanking God for granting them long life which is over and above the average life expectancy of Uganda.

“Before I came here, I launched the census results at Serena, and it was announced that the population of Uganda is now 45.9 million people and of course we know that they are now living longer than in 1986 where the average life expectancy was only 43 years. I think it has increased now. So, when you reach 76, this is really a good bonus. You have gone from the average 63 and added another 13 years. And I’m threatening 80. Therefore, we praise the Lord for giving us a long life,” the President said.

He further congratulated Maama Janet for her concept of Uganda Women’s Effort to Save Orphans (UWESO) in 1986 without his much involvement, an idea he says has helped so many children especially orphans. According to President Museveni, what the First Lady is doing at Masulita Children’s village through UWESO is to implement the vision of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) of free education which they introduced after the 1996 elections to enable children of the poor to study free through Universal Primary Education (UPE) and later Universal Secondary Education (USE), a concept he continues to blame head teachers and leaders to have suffocated.

“The whole idea was that the children of the poor should be looked after by Uganda. Uganda should help them to study free and we always put money in the budget to pay for the costs of education but the local leaders and even you the MPs, you don’t follow that one up. In the Primary schools we have almost 11 million children but in all secondary schools we have 2.6 million children, so you wonder where did the 7 million go? They dropped out of school! Why? Because of the charges imposed by the teachers and parents who fail to implement that program,” H.E Museveni noted, adding that although they want to use force to implement the program, they are doing it carefully because schools say the money sent is not enough.

He blamed teachers and some churches who think children are a business to get money from by making them pay Endobolo (tithe fee) from each child in a given school.

“Here, Maama has demonstrated that free education is possible- you can educate children for free, but the problem is the greed of some of the people. You find a headmaster of a UPE school having his children in a private school, but he doesn’t want children of the poor to study free,” the President said.

Gen. Museveni reminded the people how Masulita is so significant in the NRM struggle where they camped at the home of a one Namwandu Nalima on the 4th of April 1981 after walking from Kikandwa at night and crossing Luttabayima preparing to attack Kakiri on 6th April which he said was their first total victory. Masulita gave us good luck,” he said.

The President further promised support to Masulita Children’s village to among others acquire a maize mill that will do a lot of things including producing chicken feeds for sale in the community. He said this will boost the incomes of the children’s home to become sustainable.

On her side, Maama Janet expressed gratitude to God for the life well lived saying at 76 years, she has seen better the goodness of God.

“Let me first of all, thank Him who has given me the gift of life and time on this earth. He has given me time to collect the blessings of experience and to develop empathy. He has enabled me to understand the long view, the eternal perspective of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, and it has impacted the value of my time on earth. Therefore, I thank Him because I know that long life is a blessing not given to all people,” she said, further thanking God for the protection and providence of the period when President Museveni was in the Liberation struggle.

According to the First Lady, it was imperative for her to give back to God after keeping them safe during the war and she mobilised fellow women to give a helping hand to the many children that had been left with nothing.

“When I came back, I thought about what gift I could offer to God to bring our whole family home. I had just visited Luwero at that time and I was taken to a reception centre and the children ran out to see who had come to their place. They came clapping- many of them were half dressed, some of them were completely naked. There were about 50 children with one adult. I took pictures of them and when I got home, that picture would not leave me. And so, I thought, that’s the gift I would give to God that I would not only take care of my own biological children but also others whose life was not easy. It’s something I thought I can do as a thanksgiving to God,” Maama Janet narrated, adding that the meeting she convened at the police centre in Kampala attracted many like-minded people who mobilised money and some offered part of their houses as office centres to start UWESO.

“I want to tell you that UWESO was not started by me alone. It was done by all those women, some of them you have just seen here. We have all grown old and we are walking unsteadily right now but we were very strong women at that time and young and grateful to God and we were willing to do everything it took to have something to give life to those children. We always said that wherever there are orphans, the mothers in that area must be the ones to start the branch of UWESO so that all mothers become participatory and take the responsibility of their area,” Maama Janet explained.

She thanked President Museveni for giving her the freedom to serve and for always supporting her work together with partners.

“When God gives us a long life in this world, I believe it is because He has work for us to do; He wants us to develop our God-given gifts and use them in His service as good stewards. So, when God in His wisdom granted me life and placed me where He chose to place me, I knew that there was work out there He wanted me to accomplish,” The First Lady said, calling upon the young people who are successful to support them lift up those who are unable in the society to stand on their own.

On the other hand, the First Daughter Mrs. Natasha Museveni Karugire praised the First Lady as a fearless and courageous woman who never gives up with God besides her.

“Everywhere Maama goes by the grace of God, and despite the challenges, she blooms. She works quietly and systematically, sowing the light of God and complete transformation in every assignment of her life. Her service is marked fully by her relationship with the Lord God and her life is circulated with her love for Jesus. I see a seal of favour on everything she does,” Mrs. Natasha said.

The Chief Executive Officer – UWESO Mrs. Jolly Kamugira Kaguhangire said they not only celebrate the First Lady’s birthday but also take pride in her being the founder of UWESO and for her commitment to the dream that has lasted for 38 years now.

“I am glad to inform you that UWESO has since changed many children’s lives. We have UWESO Alumni who have been burning to extend their appreciation to you Maama, we have MPs, Doctors and one of them being a current employee of UWESO,” Mrs. Jolly said, adding that in recent years UWESO has been the centre for rehabilitation and resettlement of street children.

“In January 2024, KCCA rescued over 900 adults and unescorted children from the streets of Kampala and these children were all brought here. It was an overwhelming experience but with the help of our Local partners, UWESO managed to resettle them back to their home districts. Some were taken back to school and as we speak 309 children are studying in Primary schools in Napak in Karamoja,” she noted, further thanking the First Lady for her dedication as the cornerstone of their success.

The Chairperson – UWESO Board of Directors, Ms. Olive Birungi Lumonya expressed her appreciation and gratitude to the First Lady who through her visionary leadership, UWESO has grown from a humble initiative to a formidable force for good.

“We celebrate a dream that has lived. More than 50,000 children have gone through our Children’s home, here at Masulita and 108,714 have been supported by UWESO in different parts of the nation. We also celebrate the positive impact of UWESO to the community development in this Country,” Ms. Birungi said.

The ceremony was attended by among others, Ministers, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Members of Parliament, Senior Government Officials, friends from the Business community and the Private Sector, local leadership and UWESO family.

 

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