Please help me fulfill my Oxford dream

by Lulu Jemimah in Oxford, England, United Kingdom

We did it
On 20th July 2017 we successfully raised £13,243 with 279 supporters in 42 days

Someone has always believed in me. From the English school teacher who let me read a poem in class because I was too shy to hand it to a boy

by Lulu Jemimah in Oxford, England, United Kingdom

 New stretch target



Thank you everyone who has given, shared and encouraged. I have secured the first year's tuition and college fees-amount needed before 23rd July. I plan on applying for scholarships and grants for the second year. Any extra money will go to that too but right now I want to hug each and every one of you.

This has been such a rollercoaster of emailing, pleading and rejections, but ultimately having real life superheroes swoop in and save the day. This will not be forgotten.)

I am where I am today because someone believed in me.

From the English school teacher who let me read a poem in class because I was too shy to hand it to a boy.

His response would be my first literary rejection.

I decided to write myself love letters instead.

(I found this little gem from a diary entry in 2002. I have since learnt to use I’m instead of Am)

When I was about 17, a journalist came to our house to cover a story about a water shortage in the area.

He rode up on a bike and asked a friend and I our sentiments on not having running water for months.

We had other concerns at the time but I was drawn in by his eagerness to help and confided my dreams of becoming a writer.

He has later gone on to become one of Uganda’s notable journalists.

(My friend and I remained close) 

The journalist encouraged me to walk into the newsroom and ask for a job.

I remember feeling like I did not belong there. His editor thought otherwise.

 A few weeks later, my first story (something about the experiences of teenagers on holiday) was published.

For years after that I wrote for other publications. The appeal for me was entering worlds previously unfamiliar and presenting them to the public the way they affected me.

I interviewed doctors, activists, an army general and once, an inmate on death row.

He was one of the people who told me to always fight for what I wanted.

He has since been pardoned.

I also wrote about street children and in 2013 I was asked to make a presentation to politicians about the causes and effects of human trafficking in Kampala’s slums.

Standing in that room with my PowerPoint presentation, I felt inadequate but I suppressed my fear of public speaking and told them what I knew.

I was hired as a media consultant on domestic and international human trafficking.

 For the first time my writing extended to radio dramas, and live skits. I also worked with a filmmaker and realised that I had a lot to learn.

I was offered a full scholarship to study in Australia.

Initially, living so far away from home was emotionally traumatising but I met people who were willing to help. They introduced me to works by writers, filmmakers, comedians and podcasters that I would have probably never come across.

So, I read and read and read. There was no stopping me

(I even made it into the university museum)

I also met a boy who did not think my poetry was terrible.

(He pushed me to try things beyond my ability) 

Just as I found ground to move forward, I was pushed back by this little hiccup.

That’s when I really understood what it meant to have people believe in you.

I felt that I could do anything and so, I applied to the University of Oxford.

I chose this MSt. in Creative Writing program  because while I have learnt so much about other worlds, I want to continue telling stories from my home.

I have tried before and was shortlisted from some pretty stiff competition.

This program is the next step in my career as a writer, researcher and academic anthropologist through story telling.

Just recently, I learnt that for some 700,000 people in my country believe that God exists, he is Ugandan and lives among them.

I also recently met Gerald, a Ugandan author who goes door to door trying to sell his books.

He has been offered a film deal for his first book on condition he writes the script. With no experience in the area and no income to hire a script writer, I offered to do it for him. 

Both stories will be featured on a podcast I am doing in Uganda. 

No university in Uganda offers creative writing as an independent masters course.  I applied to three universities in the UK: University of Glasgow, Aberystwyth University, and Kent University. I was fortunate enough to be accepted to all three programs, but none offered funding.

Oxford too did not come with funding. I looked for scholarships, grants and even contacted embassies and government bodies. I even considered taking out a loan but was told, as an international student, I am not eligible.

I have come this far because someone at some point took a chance on me.

To the many people who have contributed so far. I can’t thank you enough.

(Including my study buddy and housemate during my first degree who contributed 8 dollars)

I hope you too can take a chance on me.

 I promise you it will be all the accountability I will need to make this worthwhile for me and for others.



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