Beads to Business Graduate
Iganga, Uganda

At 2 years old, Rukia was rushed to the hospital, experiencing fever, loss of appetite and chest pain. This little girl was diagnosed with heart disease. Jamila was devastated, but was committed to see her daughter through a disease that people said would kill Rukia in a short time. The drugs Rukia received provided relief, but were too expensive. Jamila had very little income cultivating a small piece of land and could not afford the medication so tried traditional healers whose herbs were cheaper.

Jamila was married at age 15. She never met her own mother until a few days before her wedding. Her mom had left when she was just a toddler. Her parents fought so much and when her mother could not take the physical abuse, she fled from her home and family. On the way out, Jamila's father roughly grabbed Baby Jamila out of her mom’s hands and her life was spent in a home without a mom.

Jamila and her husband gave birth to eight children, Rukia being the third youngest. Her husband abandoned her for South Africa to find a job, but has not returned for five years, leaving Jamila to raise these eight children alone. Nevertheless, Jamila continues to work hard at her restaurant she opened after joining BeadForLife. She is in the Tusobola Beader Group (Tusobola means “yes we can”) and creates the Mirembe bracelet (Mirembe means “peace”).

Today at 9 years old, Rukia is a sweet, bright eyed girl. Sadly, she cannot play long with her friends, as she gets breathless, loses her appetite and cannot eat. Her mother enrolled her in a school a bit closer to home so she can monitor her. Rukia is doing well in school and BeadForLife is supporting her through the Compassion Fund Program to gain quality treatment for her heart condition.

Like many of our members, Jamila rises every day with a strong desire to change her life and the life of everyone in her family. She works hard both her restaurant and as a mother of eight. She's certainly been an inspiration to us, we hope that she inspires you as well!

“My dream is for Rukia to get well and for all my children to finish school.” - Jamila