While Pursuing her Bachelor of Laws at Uganda Christian University, Anne Marie Nabuguzi embarked on her love for charity mission that later grew into the EQUATE Foundation. EQUATE is an acronym for Equal Access To Education and is a non-profit organization that envisions to help provide an inclusive and sustainable future through advocating equal access to education. She told her inspirational story to Catherine Male.
“Charity is a virtue that was instilled in me at a young age. My mother always collected all the clothes we had not worn in a longtime and gave them out at Church during lent. This taught me the meaning of charity,” Nabuguzi says.
The founder of the now legally recognised EQUATE Foundation started in 2014 by inviting people to participate in charity drives, which she named “Karabo”, derived from a South African word meaning “Answer”.
The outreaches were answers to the prayers of the underprivileged.
She asked for contributions from people through her social media platforms. Anyone that could contribute anything ranging from money, food, clothes, books and other basic needs.
She would then, alongside interested people, take these items to different care centers like Missionaries of the Poor in Kisenyi, Kampala.
However, feeding and clothing did not give Nabuguzi enough satisfaction, thus the start of EQUATE Foundation whose main objective is to provide sustainable education to the children who cannot afford to pay school fees.
They also conduct outreaches in schools sensitising students and pupils about the importance education and staying in school.
She says she considered education over the basic day to day life necessities because addresing educational needs is an indirect way of dealing with and eradicating poverty.
She adds: “The need to create a sustainable impact on the future generation drove me to start EQUATE. My duty as a citizen is to batten society before its deficiencies wring life out of the nation.”
Asked whether she stopped the charity drives, Nabuguzi clarifies that they are still ongoing although independent of EQUATE and on a relatively low scale compared to the previous drives.
She adds that there are chances the two may be combined in the near future to serve better and wholly, because she believes that a hungry, clothless child cannot acquire the kind of education the foundation advocates.
Mode of operation
EQUATE so far has a team of 20 active members on the forum.
The team members are further divided into departments for instance the accounting, fundraising and welfare department, among others depending on their strengths or line of career.
Each team has specific duties on voluntary basis, but they work hand in hand for the attainment of the foundation’s goals.
There is also a monthly contribution coming from at least every member, that is kept in the treasury to help pay school fees for the underprivileged children, whose education floats on the edge of illiteracy.
“So far we have paid school fees for two beneficiaries who managed to sit for their Primary Leaving Examinations this year 2021,” Nabuguzi says.
The two beneficiaries were chosen by the foundation after a visit to Ntaawo Primary School in Mukono district to celebrate World Children’s Day in November 2019.
Alice Namulondo, a mobiliser at EQUATE, says working with the team has taught her social skills, especially from the outreaches.
She says she hopes to acheive more as they continue to serve people.
Namulondo prays that the foundation is able to impact the lives of more people, irrespective of their gender, race and religious beliefs.
Their key challenge is the inability to have a constant and stable flow of income.
The foundation entirely depends on the contributions and donations from well-wishers, however because of the Covid -19 pandemic since 2020, some members asked for their pledges to be reduced and others suggested that they be totally taken off the foundation’s membership board until they are financially back on their feet.
This has negatively impacted their plans and operation.
Much as the education sector has been greatly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, the foundation plans to send more children to school and provide assistance to those who are already in school and are facing financial hardships.
She hopes the academic calender returns in order soon so that planning becomes easy for the foundation as it embarks on its goal.
Nabuguzi also plans to incorporate the Karabo Charity drives and EQUATE so that the two go hand in hand because she believes no child should go to school hungry or naked.