Estella is passionate about giving children a platform to help them succeed

Prior to lockdown, Estella Kabagaya (Maama Children) operated a daycare center in Wandegeya Market. With this, many mothers were relieved of the duties of childcare enabling them to ably tend to their businesses. Moreover, child safety was also ensured.

However, when the pandemic hit, a lockdown was announced leading to the indefinite closure of most daycare centers, hers included. Kabagaya did not give up on her support in nurturing today’s child even during the pandemic.  Hadijah Nankanja, a social entrepreneur and one of her mentors says Kabagaya is an educator and businesswoman that is deeply passionate about children, their care and development.

“Apart from being a great mentee who continually challenges herself, Estella is always willing to go the extra mile. She has done great work in her community in Buwate, organising holiday activities, and events. Rather than seek money or recognition, Estella has dedicated her life to the simple purpose of providing learning experiences to children and youth, giving them a chance at succeeding in school and in life. And in so doing, she has impacted these children for generations to come.”

In March 2021 as children prepared to sit their UACE and PLE examinations, Kabagaya decided to fundraise to support vulnerable children in her community and enable them to sit their final examinations. The support offered included geometry sets and calculators and she partnered with another campaign team ‘School Me’ to make the fundraising a success.

Just when normalcy was returning to the country, another lockdown was affected in June 2021 and children were once again sent home. With Kabagaya’s experience in engaging children in conversations, she came to learn that they were stressed and depressed. That presented a stumbling block to an easy transition back to normal in-person classroom.

“With this in mind, I purposed to run a campaign to help prepare children and parents on how to return to school once they re-opened in January 2022. My first idea was to open a YouTube channel ‘Mama Children’s village’ where I spoke about matters concerning children.”

However, she realised that the communication medium did not work for everyone. That was because they needed data to access the information, yet part of her intended audience could not afford internet bundles.

“I then resorted to visiting churches, when they reopened, during service. That way, I could reach a bigger number of parents and children to speak and encourage them to prepare for the return to school. I also took the same gospel to communities understandingtheir fears and challenges. We further discussed how prepared they were mentally to return to normal school, and some had their fears of returning, others were not sure they would afford to return and many had issues such as bullies at school, missing attachments they had finally developed with their parents as these had never existed before. Some feared they were not promoted and were not willing to repeat the class.”

Knowing that some children would not be able to return to school for various reasons, one being teenage pregnancies, Kabagaya ran a fundraising to give the teenage mothers survival skills that can sustain them and their children. In this, she partnered with the Community Women Enterprise Network and reached out to Wakyato community in Nakaseke.

“We approached a midwife at the Wakyato Health Centre who helped mobilize them and we taught a couple of skills such as sanitary towels making as these are a necessity that is not very affordable to many. They also learned how to make counter books which they could sell to children and parents within their communities.”

Kabagaya also partnered with Mr Fagil Mandy, an education and parenting expert to engage people and communities through a talk show on parenting and matters that concern children directly (this will launch at the end of this month and run for a year).

“We also reach out to schools and support children with transformational programmes such as physical fitness and encourage them to remain focused to achieve their dreams.”

With this, ‘Mama Children’ feels fulfilled as she has been able to reach out and speak to more than 5,000 children and parents. She looks forward to finding out new needs in her community and seeing how she can help.