Back to school shopping…in Uganda

Posted on: February 25th, 2014 by admin No Comments

It’s back-to-school time in Uganda! In the U.S., this is likely to entail heading to the mall to check out the back-to-school sales and stopping off for a fresh batch of notebooks, pens, and a new backpack. Well, in Uganda it looks quite different.

Empower scholars attend a boarding school. Boarding schools are common in Uganda and are generally the preferred option for parents, primarily because it allows the student to focus more on their academics and saves on expenses like transportation and food. It also means that when students go to school, they need to have all of their necessities for the next three months. That is where it gets interesting.

Our shopping list contains 67 items that each student may need at the beginning of each new school term. Multiply 67 items x 45 students x 3 school terms and it takes a complex spreadsheet to manage our back-to-school shopping list. Most of the items are delivered on a supply truck in large quantities, because 300 rolls of toilet paper won’t fit in the back of a car very well. Of course, being typical teenagers, our students are most interested in a few items like pocket money, sugar (for tea), and “grub” (snacks).

So, next fall when you think about back to school shopping, consider our shopping list below and be grateful you only need to make two stops.


                1. Bathing soap
                2. Biscuits
                3. Boxers
                4. Bread
                5. Grub
                6. Deodorant
                7. Hair braiding/cuts
                8. Hair oil
                9. Hankies
                10. Knickers
                11. Laundry soap
                12. Mosquito net
                13. Pocket money
                14. Sanitary pads
                15. Shampoo
                16. Shaver
                17. Shoe polish
                18. Sponge
                19. Sports bras
                20. Sugar
                21. Toilet paper
                22. Toothbrushes
                23. Toothpaste
                24. Vaseline/Lotion
                25. Bed sheets
                26. Blanket
                27. Bra
                28. Bucket
                29. Cup
                30. Mosquito net
                31. Padlocks
                32. Long ruler
                33. School shoes
                34. Slippers
                35. Sneakers
                36. Socks long
                37. Socks short
                38. Black sweater
                39. P. E shirt
                40. P. E shorts
                41. Passports photos
                42. Prom fee
                43. School sweater
                44. School T-shirt
                45. School trip
                46. Stencil
                47. Technical drawing set
                48. Textile kit
                49. Textile supplies
                50. Uniforms
                51. Bonding Trip money
                52. Club money
                53. Home economics needs
                54. Peer party
                55. Senator’s party
                56. Atlas
                57. Bible
                58. Calculator
                59. Dictionary
                60. Eyeglasses
                61. French dictionary
                62. Pillow
                63. Math set
                64. School bag
                65. Pencil sharpener
                66. Suitcase
                67. Swimming suit

You would also want to know whether a certain feature is compatible with the cellular service plan of the target phone

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