Faisal Kimbugwe’s journey from Uganda to Pestalozzi and on to Berea College, USA, is a testament to where hard work can take you.
Attending school was a struggle for Faisal. During his final years of secondary school, he only attended for six weeks because his mother could not afford the school fees. Prior to that, Faisal funded most of his 7th grade by cleaning a furniture workshop during the holidays. He also used the off-cuts and the tools to make wooden crucifixes to adorn coffins at funerals.
With no hope of continuing his education after a difficult grade 10, Faisal was chosen to represent his school at the Pestalozzi selection. After excelling in his selection tests and an impressive interview, he was awarded a scholarship and came to Pestalozzi in 2015.
Although Faisal excelled academically here in the UK, emerging as one of the highest attaining Africans in his year group, back home life was tough for his family. His mother was forced to move twice struggling to pay rent and bills. Just before he sat his final exams in May, he was told that their house, with all their possessions, had been bulldozed as the land had been sold by an unscrupulous landlord.
After graduating from Pestalozzi in 2017, Faisal returned home for a gap year and continued to help his family by working to increase their income. “I took up many part-time jobs; officiating at badminton tournaments – anything to raise more money for the family,” he said.
Faisal is now at Berea College where he is studying chemistry and physics. Being a Bonner Scholar means Faisal can take full advantage of the educational opportunity Berea offers. “I was inspired by the Pestalozzi philosophy of education for head, heart and hands and being a Bonner scholar allows me to continue giving back to the community as I pursue my college education,” Faisal shared.
Looking ahead Faisal wants to secure a job in chemical engineering after which he hopes to save enough money to start his own non-profit organisation working to help students like himself back in Uganda.
“Faisal is the embodiment of triumph over adversity and a shining example of what Pestalozzi aims to achieve,” explained one of the Student Programme staff.