Millennium Fellow Pulls Herself out of Poverty and Helps Others to do the Same


For Shakira Nynagoma, the kindness of strangers has played an invaluable role in life. Shakira lost her mother at an early age. After her mother’s demise, Shakira’s father was unable to pay for her schooling, but this did not stop her from continuing her education. After graduating from high school Shakira applied to the MasterCard Foundation Scholarship to obtain funding for her academic future. Now she, along with 9 other University of Makerere students have started the Skyward Alliance Trust (SAT) to help other struggling students and give back to their community.

“I was being helped by the MasterCard Foundation right up from high school. I am now living a good life and I am studying. I want to do the same for other people because sometimes when you don’t have a helper you can fail to achieve your dreams.”

The Skyward Alliance Trust (SAT) is a project that aims to reduce the number of students that drop out of school due to monetary problems. SAT lends money to struggling students and allows them to pay back the loan at their own pace with an affordable level of interest charged. The interest money is then used to fund even more students. SAT also provides students with business opportunities to earn their own money and to pay for their education. SAT currently helps around 60 students in the Makerere community. The major goals of SAT are to, eliminate the number of students dropping out of school for financial reasons, educate the youth on the UN Sustainable Development Goals particularly quality education, and to create a sustainable system by which youth can pursue or create employment opportunities to fund their education.

In order to take her project to the next level, Shakira decided to join the Millennium Fellowship. She joined the Fellowship to meet fellow young people who are passionate about helping their communities and to better learn how to run her project. According to Shakira, the most valuable part of the Fellowship so far are the lessons that she has learned from it. 

“I have been able to learn how to work in a team to achieve goals. I’ve been able to learn how to distribute tasks, how to listen to other people’s ideas, and how to grow together.”

  Shakira continually emphasizes that the kindness of the people at the MasterCard Foundation is what got her so far in life and is the reason why she is passionate about giving back to her community. 

“I was being helped by people I didn’t even know. They are not my parents and I’ve never seen them before. It is through this, that I developed the passion to help other people in my community so they can reach the same (university) level that I am at.”

Shakira hopes that with the help of the Millennium Fellowship she will be able to take her project, the Skyward Alliance Trust to the next level. Her organization hopes to start more projects to provide self-employment and to extend the project to other communities to help more people. 

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