The Mandela Project
The solution to a nation's problems must come from within

Meet Our Mandela Scholars
Introducing the Incoming Class of 2023

Nearly 50% of girls in central Uganda are unable to continue their secondary education (grades 7-12) due to the circumstances they face when living in extreme poverty, preventing them from reaching their potential. Through deep-rooted relationships developed with communities over the last decade, Just Like My Child Foundation (JLMC) is able to identify the youth percolating with potential in the communities we serve.

The Mandela Project provides the sponsorship of higher education and mentorship for girls in the Girl Power Project who have the potential to become extraordinary leaders in their communities. It removes the financial barrier to higher education through the sponsorship of exceptional youth, ensuring high-performing yet vulnerable students receive a high quality education as well as mentoring and career planning. When a girl stays in school, she is safer, healthier, and her education helps uplift her family.

In 2017, 10 additional Mandela Scholars have been accepted into this program. These vulnerable adolescent girls have been nominated by their teachers and peers to receive a sponsorship for their secondary education. In each of their cases, their families cannot afford the school fees to continue their secondary education, despite their high performance in school. They would have dropped out of school after completing 6th grade.

Nassuna Madina Swabulah Swabulah, age 13

Swabulah lives with her mother and two siblings on ¼ acre of farmland in a two room mudhouse. Their family grows their own food on their small piece of land and her mother earns extra money by helping in people’s gardens and by selling snacks at the market. Physical labor is difficult for her mother, who has a disability in her left leg. Their father abandoned Swabulah’s mother when he remarried when the children were small. Despite their hardship, Swabulah’s mother has been dedicated to keeping her in school. She’s taken out loans to pay for school fees, and the head teacher at Swabulah’s primary school has been subsidizing half of her school fees, to help. Her head teacher believes that Swabulah is a brilliant girl. Swabulah loves reading novels and listening to music. Her favorite subject is science and she aspires to become a doctor. She looks up to her friend Rebecca because she speaks English well. Swabulah's secondary education is sponsored by Lynne Boisineau.

Nanziri Sauya Sauyah, age 14

Sauyah lives with her mother, grandmother, brother, sister, and nephew. At night they sleep at a neighbor’s house because their house is older with cracks in the walls. Her father lives in the city and does not provide for them. Her mother, a gardener, and sister, who works with an events company, support the family with $11 per month. Sauyah’s primary school has been sympathetic with her family’s hardship. They allowed her mother and sister to make payments for her school fees. Sauyah has attended the Girl Power Project workshops in her community and was invited to attend Camp Girl Power. As a result, she graduated as a Girl Power Project Peer Mentor, equipped to lead club meetings to empower her peers with the skills she’s learned. Sauyah’s favorite subject is science and she loves to dance. She aspires to become a secretary. Her role model is her mother because she is very hardworking.

Mary Gorette Mary, age 10

Mary lost her mother this year. Her father abandoned her family when she was two, so she is now in the care of her 24-year-old Uncle Shafik, who lives with his wife and child. Her younger brother stays with her grandmother. Her uncle is an architect, but has not found a stable job yet. He volunteers at an architectural firm for a small stipend and sells shoes. With his $84 monthly income, he supports his wife, their child, and Mary. They rent a single room that they share between four people. Mary’s aunt is happy to care for her and is supportive of her success in secondary school. During school holidays, Mary visits her grandmother to help sell hats so her younger brother can go to school. In 2015, Mary attended the Girl Power Project workshops in her community and was invited to attend Camp Girl Power. As a result, she graduated as a Girl Power Project Peer Mentor, equipped to lead club meetings to empower her peers with the skills she’s learned. She loves to read story books and aspires to become a doctor. She looks up to her Uncle Shafik as a role model because he stayed away from bad groups after finishing school and is dedicated to caring for his family.

Nakaweesa Margaret Margaret, age 17

Margaret was abandoned by her parents when she was a baby and has been raised by her grandmother. When she was little, her stunted growth (in addition to the long distance she lived to the nearest school) delayed her start in school. She lives with her younger brother, auntie, and four cousins. Her younger brother and auntie both have intellectual disabilities and require additional care from her grandmother. Their family owns a little land for farming. They grow their own food and have a pig. They sell coffee and small bananas to generate income for basic needs. Their family of seven lives off less than $8.50 per month. Margaret works after school to earn extra money for her school fees. She does work around her teacher’s home and babysits for a teacher’s friend in Kampala from time to time. Margaret’s grandmother wasn’t sure of her secondary education, since it has been her primary school teachers who have helped her with her school fees — and may not be the case with secondary school. Margaret’s grandmother could not afford to send her to secondary school. Last year, Margaret attended Girl Power Project workshops in her community and was invited to attend camp — graduating as a Girl Power Project Peer Mentor, equipped to lead club meetings to empower her peers with the skills she’s learned. She loves to sing and dance, and aspires to become a dentist or radio presenter.

Nakate Hope Hope, age 14

Hope lives in a family of 12 with both of her parents, two sisters, four brothers, and three cousins. Her oldest brother attends a secondary boarding school, and the rest of her siblings and cousins attend primary school. Her father used to run a retail business until it was robbed. Now he is a garbage collector who supports their whole family with $39 per month. Both of her parents are HIV+. Hope is a survivor of sexual assault. She has attended the Girl Power Project workshops in her community and was invited to attend Camp Girl Power. As a result, she graduated as a Girl Power Project Peer Mentor, equipped to lead club meetings to empower her peers with the skills she’s learned. Last year, she attended all 12 monthly Girl Power Project Club sessions at her local school. She loves playing Dodge Ball and aspires to become a doctor who helps people in need. Hope looks up to Nakigudde Janat, a JLMC Project Coordinator, as a role model through the counseling she’s received as a participant in the Girl Power Project — and now as a Mandela Scholar. Hope's secondary education is sponsored by Marni Battista.

Nankosi Juahara Juahara, age 12

Juahara lives with her grandmother, her great grandmother (her grandmother’s mother), and five cousins. Juahara’s grandmother is a pastor and is her primary guardian. Juahara has attended all of the Girl Power Project workshops that took place at her primary school last year. She loves reading story books and participated in the debate club at her primary school. Her role model is her family doctor, Doctor Charles, and she aspires to become a doctor herself one day.

Elachan Moureen Moureen, age 13

Moureen was raised by her mother and father who worked as laborers on their neighbors’ farms. Her father abused her when she was young and eventually her parents moved out of the community when they received their own farming land in another district. They left Moureen behind to be cared for by her grandmother, who was too old to look after her. Moureen's older sister adopted her, so she moved from the country to the city and now lives in a one-room house with her sister, her sister’s husband, and their baby. Her sister washes clothes for a living and her husband is a brick layer. They live off less than $14 per month. Moureen has participated in the the Girl Power Project workshops at her school, including club sessions held over school holidays. She loves to play Ruddo (a board game) and aspires to stay in school and read more books. She looks up to her Nurse Mbabazi, and hopes to become one herself, one day.

Nakitende Joeria Joeria, age 14

Joeria’s mother left her with her grandparents when she was a baby, and they have raised her ever since. She doesn’t really know her father. She lives with her grandparents, five cousins, and five other children from her cousins. They have a very decent house and eat 2 times per day from the food they raise in their gardens. Her grandparents grow coffee and other food for sale, however her grandfather says he “cannot waste money on a girl’s education because she may be a loss like her mother was.” Joeria’s grandmother believes she deserves to stay in school and was worried that she wouldn’t be able to go to secondary school without support. Joeria has attended the Girl Power Project workshops at her school and was invited to attend Camp Girl Power where she graduated as a Girl Power Project Peer Mentor. She has conducted Girl Power Project club meetings in her community to empower her peers with the skills she’s learned. She loves playing sports and aspires to become a doctor so she can treat patients like her family doctor.

Ahirwe Dorcus Dorcus, age 13

Dorcus lives with her mother, father, and three sisters. Dorcus’ older sister is enrolled in secondary school and her siblings are in primary school. Her mother owns a small retail shop and her father works in the laboratory at their local hospital. Her parents also care for the family of her father’s late brother, her aunt and two primary school-aged cousins. Dorcus’ family rents a plot of land where they grow some food for consumption, to ease the amount of food purchased from the market. As a Mandela Scholar, Dorcus has the opportunity to attend a higher caliber secondary school — one that her family would not be able to afford on their own. Dorcus has attended the Girl Power Project workshops at her school and was invited to attend Camp Girl Power. As a result, she graduated as a Girl Power Project Peer Mentor, equipped to lead club meetings to empower her peers with the skills she’s learned. She has demonstrated her leadership skills by facilitating Girl Power Project Club sessions over school holidays while graduating from primary school at the top of her class. She loves music and her favorite subject is mathematics. She looks up to Grace, a clinical officer at the hospital where her father works, and aspires to become a clinical officer after she finishes her studies.

Masibo Mwajumah Mwajumah, age 12

Mwajumah’s family lost their property to the bank after failing to pay back a loan. Her father ran away from them and her mother is working as a maid to support her and her 3 siblings with less than $17 per month. Mwajumah’s older sister helps her mother work to provide for the family when her sister is home during school holidays. Mwajumah has been staying with her aunt and uncle while her mother finds her family a new place to live. Mwajumah has attended the Girl Power Project club sessions led by Peer Mentors in her community. Her favorite subject in school is social studies and she likes watching television. She aspires to become a doctor.

It costs just $2,500 per year to send a girl to one of the best
secondary schools in Uganda, which includes tuition, room and board, uniforms, school supplies, health care, counseling and extracurricular opportunities. Mandela Project Scholars pay it forward by mentoring peers in their community during school breaks and participating in community service.


Total lives impacted

Student Scholars

Professional Scholars

The Mandela Project currently sponsors 19 Mandela Scholars. JLMC is committed to increasing this program's reach by accepting ten additional Scholars each year. The Mandela Project invests in a Scholar's entire secondary education (grades S1-S6, the equivalent of grades 7-12 in the U.S.) as long as she remains high-performing. Applications are open to any qualified girl attending a school participating in the Girl Power Project, with a focus on girls in the P7 grade in Uganda who are ready for secondary school. When considering candidates, vulnerability and scholastic achievements to-date are priority factors. The Mandela Project is focused on reaching adolescent girls who are performing well in school, have confidence, and have demonstrated leadership skills, but would not be able to manage the financial cost to stay in school. In addition, parents/guardians must be committed to fulfilling their responsibilities as a coinvestment in their child's success.

Meet the Class of 2022

Nalubega Joanita Joanita, age 14

Joanita lives with her mother and four siblings. Joanita’s mother struggles to meet the family’s basic needs as a gardener, helping farm people’s land. She earns about $6 per week. The primary school that Joanita attended was of a poor standard, and as a result it did not prepare her to pass the examination required of all students in order to enter secondary school. Joanita and her mother were committed to Joanita passing this exam (and successfully graduating primary school) so Joanita prepared for re-examination at another, higher quality school nearby. She passed with high marks. She is determined to excel in her academics, with much support from her mother. Her favorite subject is science and she aspires to become a tailor, like her grandmother, who is also her role model. She likes to play football, listen to music, sing, and dance. Her best subjects are Chemistry, Biology, and Economics.

Margaret Zawedde Margaret, age 15

Without a sponsorship from the Mandela Project, Margaret would most certainly not have pursued secondary education, due to the obstacles her family faces. Margaret has 6 brothers and 2 sisters. Her father was abusive and isn’t around much, anymore. Her mother single handedly supports her family by farming the land they live on, and sells extra crops to earn less than $6 per month. Even with this small income, Margaret’s mother has managed to keep the six of her school-aged children enrolled in school. Margaret’s primary school head teacher accepted maize grains for school lunches, in exchange for Margaret’s school fees. Margaret became a Mandela Scholar in 2016, beginning her first year of secondary school, and has continued to perform well. Her best subjects are Luganda (the local language), Food & Nutrition Studies, and History. She is in the top percentile of her class. Her favorite subject is science and she aspires to become a nurse. Her favorite kind of music is Gospel, and her role model is her former primary school head teacher, Mrs. Namirembe Betty.

Halima Nakiganda Halima, age 14

Halima lives with her mother, step father and 5 siblings. Her father abandoned her family three years ago. Her mother is a farmer who produces their food, with a little extra to sell. Their monthly income is less than $12. Last year Halima’s older sister got married (at age 18) after dropping out of school early. Halima has hope. She became a Mandela Scholar in 2017 after graduating the sixth grade with the highest grades in her school. Despite her family’s hardships, she’s done well in school and has continued to excel as a Scholar. She has also participated in Girl Power Project workshops at her school, and attended Camp Girl Power to become a mentor for her peers. With other girls in her community, she helps lead Girl Power Project club meetings about peer pressure, communication, and self-esteem as a Girl Power Project Peer Mentor. Halima’s favorite subject is science and she aspires to become a lawyer so she can help provide her mother with basic needs, since she can’t afford them most of the time.

Mary Jane Akulu Mary Jane, age 14

Mary Jane is the only girl in her family, with six brothers. Like a lot of girls in Uganda whose families live off the land with limited resources, she was denied an education. Her brothers were sent to school while she stayed at home to help tend to her family’s household, fetching water, cooking, and cleaning. Mary Jane became a Mandela Scholar in 2012 as one of the best students in her primary school class (14th out of 108 students). Jane is a bright, hardworking girl who has shown a drastic change since becoming a Scholar. This year she begins S2, the second year of secondary school. Her best subjects are English Literature, French Language, Fine Art and Home Economics. Through meetings with Mary Jane, JLMC Mandela Project coordinators realize that Mary Jane’s shy personality prevents her from speaking up in class when she needs help. As a result, she has been working together with her sister and mentor, Anna, to gain confidence to ask her teachers more questions in difficult subjects. She is a runner and participates in athletics at school. She loves school and helping her mom around the house, when she’s home during school breaks.

Nansubuga Perathy Perathy, age 14

Perathy is one of the brightest and highest performing students in her community. She graduated from primary school with the highest scores of all the students in the surrounding 48 villages. Her high marks gained her acceptance into the best boarding school in the district where she could continue to excel in her studies in grades 7-12. But Perathy's family is like other families that we serve in rural Uganda: they are farmers who live on less than $3 per month, an income that could hardly support the school fees of the best school in the district. Perathy became a Mandela Scholar in 2016 and just finished her first year of secondary school. Her favorite subject is Science and she wants to become a nurse. Her best subjects are Religious Studies and Swahili. Perathy’s parents take good care of her and are committed to ensuring her success in life. She has 3 siblings.

Meet the Class of 2019-20

Patricia Ainembabazi Patricia Ainembabazi, age 16

Patricia’s father died from AIDS, which left her mother, who is also HIV positive, to care for five children on her own. Her mother works very hard and contributes a lot to her children’s school fees and Patricia’s aunt has helped contribute Patricia’s school fees. Since Patricia is such a bright student, her family knew she had the potential to go to one of the best secondary schools in the country — which would double her school fees. In primary school, Patricia was at the top of her class for several years in a row. In 2013, she participated in a national math competition as a representative from her district, and earned 49th position in the country. Patricia became a Mandela Scholar in 2014 and was accepted into one of the top two secondary schools in Uganda, a school of her choice. She has continued to excel in school. Patricia loves reading books and listening to Gospel music. She is a superstar and carries herself in a very empowered and confident way.

Betty Amuge Betty Amuge, age 18

Betty comes from a village in northern Uganda. She is the third eldest of seven children. Her parents are sick with AIDS, so she stays with her uncle who lives on Bishop Asili Hospital’s grounds as a driver for the hospital. Betty is a very kind and sweet girl who is very mature for her age and very grateful and happy for this opportunity to go to school. She is always happy and smiling. Betty became a Mandela Scholar in 2012 as a vulnerable student who was performing at the top of her class. She was second in her class of 102 when she received a sponsorship for secondary school. She continues to do well in school and has acted as a mentor to younger Mandela Scholars who attend her school.

Namata Josephine Namata Josephine, age 19

Namata is a double orphan, both of her parents died of AIDS when she was young. She has been tested and is negative. She’s from a small rural fishing village where she was taken care of by her 87 year old grandmother. Namata has been a Mandela Scholar since 2008, sponsored by Scott Saham and Kristen McCabe, a family in the U.S. who has been dedicated to her academic success since the 4th grade. This year Namata will finish secondary school and begin post-secondary education (vocational training) in accounting and finance. She loves her education. She enjoys reading novels, playing netball, and surfing on the internet in her leisure time at school. She is calm, reserved, and mild mannered. The other girls seem to look to her as a maternal figure, she is a leading light.

Nalubombwe Josephine Nalubombwe Josephine, age 19

Nalubombwe is one of 8 children and is from the same village as Namata Josephine. The two of them have been Mandela Scholars together since 2008. Jim Kennedy has been dedicated to Nalubombwe’s academic success she was in the 4th grade, as the sole sponsor of her education since 2008. He is committed to supporting her dreams of attending University, news which she was excited and grateful to hear at the end of 2016. Nalubombwe will begin her first year of University In 2017. Her University and course of study are still to be determined. “I have been given the opportunity for higher education. Sometimes I think I wouldn’t have been able to go to school without a sponsorship. As a Mandela Project Scholar, I have learned that I am responsible, I take good care of myself and my property, I have good behavior and discipline, and I respect my teachers. I am proud of my performance in school.”

Become a Mandela Project Sponsor

If you've been given the gift of education, you know how powerful it's been to shape who you are today. And, you know why it's the greatest gift of all. You have the power to pass that on and transform a vulnerable girl's future. It costs $2,500 per year to send a girl to one of the best secondary schools in Uganda. The cost includes:

  • School Application Fees
  • Transportation to/from School
  • Medical and Preventative Health Care for the Student and her family
  • School Uniform and Scholastic Materials (Textbooks, Paper, Pencils, etc.)
  • Tuition and Fees
  • Room, Board and Supplies
  • Mentorship for the Student and her family, so she stays on track to success