She Taught Herself How to Read: Mercy's Story

04/23/18
 
“When Mercy grows up, she wants to be a Prime Minister.”
 
That’s what Mercy’s caregivers said when she first came to COTN–Uganda. She was just ten years old, but she was hardworking and had big dreams of helping others.
 
But until she came to COTN, Mercy didn’t have the opportunities to achieve these dreams. 
 
 
Mercy grew up with a troubled home life. Her parents were separated, and, as she puts it, she “didn’t enjoy all their love.” Her father remarried and later died, and her mother sometimes struggled to afford school fees or even food for her children
 
Mercy’s mother did not go to school and had no job. All she could do to support her family was farm. “Due to that, there was no money. We only benefited from the vegetables.”
 
Mercy in 2010
                                    Mercy in 2010 when she first came to COTN.
 
Mercy knows that God has always been taking care of her family. She says, “He told us not to worry, for He is already in control.”
 
She told God, “If you are giving me food today, I appreciate you. Though we don’t have money in the house, I find that every day we are eating food.”
 
Even when her mother was unsure of what they would eat, Mercy trusted in God. “I told God, ‘Father, if you can feed the birds, every day, then I know, we humans, you cannot leave us alone.’” The next day, a visitor came by and brought her mother money.
 
“But I thank God that he always provides, and never will we sleep hungry despite when there’s nothing in the house.”
 
Mercy in 2017
Mercy in 2017. Mercy thrived at COTN's school, where she became head girl in her senior year!
 
And then COTN and partners like you stepped in. COTN–Uganda gave Mercy the opportunity to attend school without worrying about fees, but she had to walk long distances. She often came to class late because of the long walk. Sometimes, she got so discouraged that she thought about dropping out. 
 
“I thank God for the courage and the hope the COTN staff always gives me to not give up,” she says. So Mercy continued to come to school, despite the difficult walk.
 
Mercy used to sit in class and listen, but she wasn't able to read what was on the board. After class, she would go to the library, and she taught herself to read using storybooks. Eventually, she read almost all the books from the primary shelves in the library. And by the time she took her national exams at the end of 7th grade, she scored in the top eight of her district!
 
COTN did not have a secondary school when it was time for Mercy to start attending. She spent her first year of secondary school at another location, but it was very difficult. 
 
“I felt like I was a prisoner,” she says. 
 
COTN-Uganda's Secondary School
Some new classrooms at COTN's secondary school! Thank you for making it possible for students like Mercy to continue their education at COTN.
 
But then COTN’s secondary school opened, and Mercy was able to return, even moving into the girl’s dormitory on campus so she no longer had to walk!
 
“When I heard that we were coming back to our original school, wow,” she says. “Heaven on earth was mine. I was extremely overjoyed with this news.” It was very important to Mercy to attend a COTN school where she knew the staff and other students. 
 
Mercy and other Senior 4 students
Mercy and other girls in their last year of secondary school have some fun! Mercy is fourth from the right in the green dress.
 
Mercy continued to excel in school. She was named head girl, and now, she is one of the first students at COTN–Uganda to enter university prep classes! 
 
In the years since joining COTN, Mercy had shifted her career plans from becoming Prime Minister to a doctor. She planned on becoming a cardiologist, but her main goal was to help others. 
 
“I want God to help me so that the people I’m living with don’t suffer,” she says. “All of us, we need love, we need peace.”
 
Mercy and Monica at A-LevelsMercy and Monica, another COTN student in university prep. They happen to be attending the same school.
 
Unfortunately, Mercy’s science scores were not high enough for her to pursue medicine. She did well in her other exam subjects, well enough to go on to university prep. And now she is studying math, economics, and geography.
 
“I may have a plan to be a doctor, but God might have another plan for me,” Mercy said before her national exams. “So my prayer is if God could help me, give me a good job in the future that will help me care for the nation.”
 
Mercy and Monica with Kristen
Monica, Mercy, and Kristen Marks, the COTN–Uganda country liaison. “Mercy is so joyful,” Kristen says. “She always knows that God is going to provide for her needs.” 
 
Mercy is a great example of the importance of faith and hard work. When opportunities came her way, opportunities that were only possible thanks to partners like you, she worked diligently to get where she is now, praising God every step of the way. 
 
Thank you for helping Mercy grow up into an incredible young woman of God! And we are so excited to see what He has in store for her next. 
 
Mercy may not know what she will be when she grows up, but we have no doubt that it will be amazing and she will use her gifts to help others!

 

P.S. Mercy was able to move on campus once she started attending COTN's secondary school, but our male students still need housing. Give today so that even more students can attend school and become future leaders!