13-year-old girls walk 340km to pray for school fees

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Two teenage girls from Lira Catholic Diocese have walked to Namungongo Martyrs Shrine to pray to God, through the martyrs, to guide them through their education.
The two, Gloria Ayao and Flavia Ejang, are the youngest of the 449 pilgrims who walked the the 342-kilometre-journey to take part in this year’s event.

Ayao is a primary seven pupil at Lira police primary school while Ejang is in primary six at Awir primary school in Apac District. Both aged 13, are optimistic God will listen to their prayers.
This reporter caught up with them at St Jude Catholic Parish in Naguru, Kampala, where the pilgrims spent the night on Wednesday before moving to Namugongo the following day.
Ayao says she is praying for her mother Rose Akidi who has no money to pay her school fees when she joins secondary school next year. She says her mother works in a restaurant in Lira town where she can’t earn sufficient money to pay tuition.
Ayao says her father died and her dream is to become a reverend sister.

“I started feeling it (becoming a nun) when I was in primary three. I want to be a sister because I am interested in knowing more about God,” she says.
Ayao says she wants to join Bishop Tarantino Secondary School, a girls’ school located in Lira District.
Like many children in rural schools, the two girls struggle to master writing and speaking English. For instance, Ayao failed to spell the word “police,” while Ejang couldn’t decode question “why did you decide to walk from Lira to Namugongo?”
After introducing herself, Ejang spoke through a translator. Her father and mother died in 2004 and 2005 respectively when she was a toddler.

“I have to pray so that I get something from God. I want to get education. My parents died and I stay with my grandmother and aunt,” she says. “I want to be a teacher after finishing school.”
Thousands of Christians gather in Namugongo tomorrow, (June 3) for commemorative prayers for at least 45 converts who were killed for their faith over 130 years ago.
Twenty three of the converts were Anglican while 22 were Catholics. The Catholic martyrs were canonized on October 18, 1964 by Pope Paul VI. It is these 22 that Ayao and Ejang believe will intercede for them before God to answer their prayers.

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