Student COVID Survival Stories

December 13, 2020 - The children who attend the Nambale Magnet School have suffered greatly since its forced closing in April. Below are student stories to help you understand what being at the Nambale Magnet School means to their survival.

Orphaned and Living with HIV

Wendy*, age 11, is one of thousands of orphaned children in Africa but she has also been HIV positive since birth. 

Until the pandemic hit, Wendy not only attended the Nambale Magnet School but she also lived there. She was admitted as a preschooler, and thanks to the Namable staff’s love, care and a steady administration of anti-viral drugs, she’s grown to be a happy and healthy youngster.

Since April when the School closed, Wendy has been forced to work as a child laborer in order to survive -- on just one meal a day. Without a family, proper meals or anyone to administer her antiviral drugs, Wendy’s health declined.

The Nambale Magnet School nurse was contacted by the local hospital where Wendy had been admitted, reporting that she was quite sick with high viral counts . The hospital contacted the school since it has been Wendy’s only source of care for her condition and it had records of her prior treatment. 

Wendy has since been placed in a group home with matrons charged to make sure the she has food and steady dose of life saving drugs. Wendy’s counts are improving and she cannot wait to be well enough to go back to school when it fully reopens.

The School’s nurse and other staff members including Evalyn Wakhusama, the school’s founder, have visited Wendy to check on her and to provide any sense of family they can. This is their commitment to the children that goes way beyond a mere education.

Plans and Dreams for a Better Future

Jonas* is a day student at Nambale Magnet School and while his parents are alive, his family is living below poverty level.

Like many of his fellow learners, his father and mother both lost their jobs due to the pandemic and Jonas is forced to work as child laborer in order to receive the one small meal a day he is able to collect by his own means.

Sadly, Jonas lives in a village with no plumbing or running water or electricity. Without the abundance of fresh water, washing facilities are not available to him nor is soap.

The government has promised to deliver soap and masks to the poorest populations but, to date, has not delivered. Without PPE or appropriate methods of sanitization, Jonas and his family are at high risk for contracting COVID-19.

Jonas is now back in school as part of the partial re-opening and is relieved to be “home” where he can eat three meals each day. For now his only focus is on his studies and plans for a better future.

School is a Means for Survival

Life at home during the pandemic has not been easy at all for Nambale Magnet School student Tomas*.  With no access to online classes or teachers and no interaction with classmates, it has made learning from home very difficult.

Tomas’ parents lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus.  He and his family are living hand to mouth and Tomas was forced to look for work. Additionally, his siblings were selling water from house to house. The imposed curfew and lockdowns also interfere with their daily activities and ability to work.

The money they are able to earn is used to buy food and medicine for his bed-ridden, ill mother.  Many times each week, his family only eats once a day. Masks and alcohol-based sanitizers are very expensive at a rate that his family cannot afford. Tragically, the pandemic has killed some of Tomas’ relatives and the rest are at high risk due little fresh water and no sanitization methods.

Once the School fully reopens, Tomas looks forward to returning not just to resume his education but as a means for his survival.


* Student's names were changed to protect their privacy.

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