It’s interesting how life can change direction as we pass through it. If I had been told that someday I would be trying to raise money to buy land in Uganda on which to build a school I would have said “What? No chance!” But in 2016 that school was occupying my thoughts every day. My son Donovan had travelled to Uganda the year before to attend the wedding of a good friend from Peace River. He returned saying “Dad you’d love it there, you should go”. I took his advice and in January 2016 travelled to Africa with a friend, Richard Welykochy. When we arrived in Kabale we were so inspired by the vision and the energy that some folks had to create a better future for the most disadvantaged members of their community, I couldn’t help but bring their vision home.
Amatsiko School is a source of free education for children who are 3 to 12 years old. The school is run by volunteers and teachers who receive a very low wage. The 120 kids who attend the school come from disadvantaged backgrounds, perhaps orphaned or from single parent homes. Most of the kids are HIV positive. The school provides the children with three meals every day and lodging for those who require it.
While Richard and I were there we donated some money to build some raised bed gardens and planted them with spinach, cabbage and green peppers. The Ministry was ready to shut down the school for lack of a proper toilet so we built a new outhouse toilet for $200. A group of “graduates” (11 year olds) would not be able to attend another year because there was no classroom. We paid for the construction of a new classroom ($175). We built compost bins ($100), rain gutters and a water catchment system ($700). It was not because we were driven by some religious mission but because we saw how little it took to make such a big difference in those peoples’ lives.
Then we discovered the school had even bigger issues that threatened its existence. The land the school was built on (an old iron foundry) was rented from the next door neighbour. He was a businessman. Improvements only increased the rent. The landlord even charged the school for every container of water they pumped from the well; water they needed to drink, wash and water their new gardens.
With all the efforts the school’s founder Alex and his staff were putting into keeping the school going, paying the rent and feeding the kids, with all of the dreams and aspirations of the kids who attended, their greatest need became very obvious. They would have to rebuild their school on its own permanent location to secure its future.
That is the dream I shared when I got home. I wrote about it in my Farm News (Jan 2016).
As of March 2017 we had collected around USD $6,200. Our goal was $38,000. This would buy around 2 ½ acres on the outskirts of the city. The new land’s fertile soil will help sustain the school with vegetables and fruit trees. The savings from not paying rent will go a long way to rebuilding the classrooms. The effort to make this all happen would provide many valuable experiences and skills for the children as they grow and move on to independence. Simple technologies like composting toilets, recycling plant waste, upright gardens, etc. can and would provide examples for others. We needed to do more.
Tour and interview
Event Comedy Night Demmitt Alberta
In an effort to raise more money we organized a Comedy Night Benefit featuring comedy star Howie Miller. As well as a silent auction, music from the Hythe Community Choir and many goodies on sale.
The evening brought in more than we dreamed with over 200 people from the Grande Prairie AB region attending the evening. Howie Miller brought the house down with everyone in tears of laughter.
The silent auction sold out. We more than doubled our funds for Amatsiko
in just one night!
Unending thanks and shouts out to the many volunteers that helped make
for a memorable evening.
I cannot thank enough the event attendees for their kind donations. We received many donated contributions for the silent auction as well a heaps of money in cash and cheques. Amatsiko School in Uganda is eternally grateful for your kindness.
Total Raised as of May 1, 2017:
Percentage towards our goal: 31%
Although we didn’t raise enough money to build a new school we did raise enough for them to secure a piece of land for the school of the future.
If ever you are in Uganda and want to stop in to see the school, just mention
I’m sure you would be welcomed with open arms.