by Johnson Mwebembezi & Justus Matsiko
Johnson is chairman of Emmanuel Mission Uganda and Justus is the director of Marumba Christian School
Winston Churchill called it ‘the pearl of Africa’ for its breathtaking scenery with tall volcanic mountains, densely forested swamps and the rainforests of the country’s central plateau. Richly fertile, the country produces much of its own food, such as oranges, papayas, lemons and pineapples, and exports minerals, cocoa and coffee. Yet amid such beauty and natural resources, Uganda’s history is stained by violence with the country only recently experiencing some long-desired stability and peace. Uganda enjoys freedom of religion; public prayer is common and many people attend church.
The capital, Kampala, is situated on the northern shore of Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest freshwater lake. Rukungiri district lies just south of the Equator, between neighbouring Congo (DRC) and Rwanda. Like most districts in Uganda, it is predominantly agricultural and 90% of the population relies on farming for employment and income.
Serving the Community
Near Rukungiri, a two-street town situated on a hilltop, is the remote village of Marumba, which is home to Marumba Christian School. The school was established in 2012 with Justus Matsiko as the school director. Justus is a key member of Emmanuel Mission Uganda, a ministry under the leadership of Johnson Mwebembezi. The school was established to help vulnerable and poor children in the surrounding communities with an added vision of imparting Christian values and principles. Since its inception, the school has grown steadily from 30 pupils to 250 pupils in 2019. The school started with only three teachers as we only had a small number of children and few classes. By 2019 there were 14 staff, including teaching, administrative and other staff members. Marumba Christian School plays a key role in the community by providing a quality education service to children who come from poverty-stricken families. Most of our pupils go on to reasonable and affordable secondary schools because of the excellent academic background they have received at the school. A large number of our former students have continued to perform well academically at these secondary schools and many are in leadership positions, especially in Scripture Unions.
When the pandemic brought the education system to a standstill in March 2020, the school was closed during successive lockdowns like all other learning centres in Uganda. The crisis had a major impact on the education sector, particularly for private schools as many of these have closed completely. However, we are thankful to God that the restrictions have been lifted and we are finally back to daily school life both in preschool and the primary sections.
Key Milestones & Challenges
The school started in rented premises but by 2016 we had acquired our own property with water and electricity connections. The school is among the ten best-performing schools out of 36 schools in Rukungiri municipality and it has built trust within the community. Our enrolment currently stands at 200 pupils with 12 teachers and two other staff members and we expect more pupils will join next year.
The school was established to help vulnerable and poor children in the surrounding communities with an added vision of imparting Christian values and principles.
Learning resources such as textbooks are limited and poor parents are unable to provide the required scholastic materials. The school has inadequate seats and desks, only 100 for more than 200 pupils, so some children just sit on the floor.
Beatrice Keminyeto – ‘I am a single mother with two teenage children, Moses Owakubaruho and Blessing Afuusa. My husband passed away when our children were still very young and it was so difficult to provide basic needs for them. At that time, I began working in people’s gardens to get food and money for my children’s education but I was still struggling. Marumba Christian School had just started and I went there to look for work as a cook. They offered me a job and enrolled my children at the school. It was a great relief for me because the school provided breakfast and lunch and we could manage supper by ourselves. Three years later, my health started deteriorating and I couldn’t continue with my job. I became very stressed because I was wondering how my children were going to continue with their education. However, I thank God that, with the school’s help, my children completed primary and performed so well. The school invested heavily in them, ensuring excellent academic performance and instilling Christian values and principles. Blessing is studying at Mbarara Senior Secondary School on a full bursary, while Moses is at London Vocational Training Institute where he is doing a brickwork and concrete course on a half bursary. I thank the Lord for Marumba School.’
Andrew Turyasingura – ‘I am married to Stedia Kembabazi and we have two children, Jabeth and Princess. I have been teaching at Marumba Christian School for the last six years. This year, the school management promoted me from being a classroom teacher to the position of head teacher. I am so grateful to God who placed me at Marumba Christian School. It has helped me to sustain my family by earning a salary and the school also runs a small income-generating programme, which helps teachers to create an additional income. I am so honoured and thankful to be part of the school family.’
Joseph Bainomugisha – ‘I am a former student of Marumba Christian School. I completed primary seven in 2018 and am currently 19 years old and studying at Makobore High School in form three. I joined Marumba Christian School in 2013 when I was in primary 2 because my parents were unable to pay my school fees at a private school. The school director visited my parents, they requested his help and I was given a place at the school. There are a number of things I could have missed in life if it was not for Marumba Christian School. It has helped me develop holistically; for example, we were trained to sing in a school choir. It was where, as a child, I grew spiritually. We were trained to work hard regardless of difficult challenges we face on a daily basis. These life skills have been so important to me and I see that I have a bright future because the school played a key role in shaping my life. It is my dream to become an engineer after finishing high school. I will ever be grateful for the huge contribution and impact the school made on my life. I pray that I will remain “a witness to the Light” as our school motto states.’
Praise & Prayer
The school has a good influence in the surrounding communities. We emphasise gospel outreach among the students, as we believe in a holistic approach to building them up. Every morning at assembly the gospel is shared and we are blessed by the brothers from Emmanuel mission. We counsel children who come from broken families who are going through trauma due to domestic violence, so the school has become their place of refuge. We visit their homes and share with their parents, which receives a positive response. God is at work in these homes. Praise God for the teachers’ passion and commitment. Pray for the staff as they invest in the students, pray for the young people to do well and become witnesses, and that the wider community will be blessed and come to know the hope we have in Jesus, our Lord and Saviour.