The tough but promising journey

Andrew Waaswa is from Kibuku District, Eastern Uganda pursuing MSc. Agricultural Extension at Egerton University. His research is focused Climate-Smart Agriculture practices among smallholder potato farmers in Gilgil Sub County, Nakuru County, Kenya. Andrew comes from humble family background. His education was interrupted by the death of his father in 1995, leaving him with his peasant mother. During his childhood, Andrew served as a herd’s boy for the neigbour’s cattle to raise money to support his family but his mother later chose to take him to school where he studied under the Universal Primary Education (UPE) at Nambiri Primary School.

Andrew Waaswa

After Primary Seven in 2006, Andre resorted to making mud bricks in order to raise tuition for secondary school, this gave him chance to join secondary school at Alliance Secondary School, Kibuku. He worked hard when he got into school and by form two he started leading his class and the school provided a 20% tuition waiver. He continued paying the 80% of his tuition with either beans which he grew by himself on their two acres family piece of land and with proceeds from mud bricks. He performed well at form four in 2010 with a first grade. However, Andrew did not have funds for the Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (UACE) and unfortunately he had started experience chest and back pains associated with the young in age hard labour in brick laying. Determined not to give-up, he requested his paternal uncle who gave him a half an acre of land in the swamp where he grew paddy rice in the year 2011. He did this together with vegetable growing and sometimes hawking of silver fish (mukene/ omena), tomatoes and bicycle boda-boda riding to raise money that he needed to take himself back to school in 2012.

He got back to school in 2012 where his scholastic necessities were met by his weekend and holiday job of helping builders as a porter in the area where he was renting while studying. He completed the UACE in 2013 at Lugazi Mixed School-Naalya from where he excelled. The Secondary School in the meantime retained him as a Teaching Assistant (teaching Principles and Practices of Agriculture and Foods and Nutrition). It was from there that he learnt about the Higher Education Student’s Financing Board (HESFB) that offers tuition loans to needy students in Uganda. He applied and was considered for funding at Makerere University, Uganda where he pursued BSc. Agricultural and Rural Innovation. The loan covered only tuition fee and left Andrew with no option apart from renting a wooden house (nicknamed by his classmates as Waaswa’s Flats) where he stayed with his friend Bwire Joseph. He excelled, graduating with a First Class Honours (CGPA4.55/5.0).

Andrew obtained several volunteer jobs in which he served with passion. This provided him with financial resources that he used to lease three acres of land on Buvuma Island. In this land, he started vegetable production as a business. He utilised this opportunity to also provide free extension services to farmers taping on his undergraduate knowledge and practice.  It is from here that he learnt about the Mastercard@RUFORUM scholarship program. His application was successful. Through the scholarship, he focused on providing relief to his mother by settling the debts she had incurred during his undergraduate studies using part of the stipend he receives. Andrew has also paid tuition fees for his nephew John and constructed for his mother a permanent house since she has lived in a grass thatched hut and semi-permanent corrugated iron sheet roof house (see former family house in the picture).

Former home
Current home

While at Egerton University, Andrew has participated in Community Action Research Project (CARP+) by taking farmers to the farmers’ organic market (FOM) in Nairobi and attending the Nakuru county food security day. This has helped him learn better techniques of battling food insecurity.  The scholarship has exposed him to a number of trainings like leadership training, personal mastery and the financial management training including the Mastercard Baobab graduate mentorship training program that is nurturing him to pursue his dream of undertaking doctoral studies.

Andrew believes that advancing his career will facilitate both his short and long-term career aspirations so that he can offer remedies to farmers in Africa and the World at large. As Andrew finalises his master’s studies, he has set-forth a plan to establish a farmer’s community training centre to facilitate agricultural extension and advisory services delivery in his home area. Andrew and his family are grateful for the rare and immense transforming opportunity that Mastercard@RUFORUM scholarship has had on their family.

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