"Where there is despair, let me bring hope" (St Francis of Assisi)
My name is Lloyd Klassen. and I live in Nova Scotia, Canada. Early in 2022, I spent a month volunteering on a project in Gulu Uganda, Africa. Gulu is a city in the region of Uganda known as Acoliland. (Acholiland) I was there to provide woodworking and carpentry skills training to local youth. My time there was an amazing gift to me. I fell in love with these beautiful and inspiring young people. The beauty of their culture, their love and generosity, and the power and resilience of their spirit have had a profound effect on me and my heart is forever changed. It is an extremely impoverished area, and the challenges are great, but I saw how empowering it was for these youth to acquire knowledge and skills and because of this, see hope for themselves, their loved ones, their community and their future.
I am now working together with a group of local people in the Kampala region of Uganda to create a non-profit primary school in the Luwero District. I am working directly with Namarome Manjeri, a woman from the area and a person with great vision. I am truly inspired by her! Together with her team in Kampala, we are creating a non-profit called Pearl of Africa Vision Mission.
Its vision is:
"to see community youth, women, men and children who are socially, economically and politically empowered and with a voice to control their own future and destiny"
"to support community youth, women, men and children to be empowered and reach their full potential.”
To support this vision and mission, we are creating a non-profit primary school.
In Uganda, there are both public and private schools. The quality of education in public schools is very poor. According to UNICEF, while the introduction of universal primary education in Uganda in 1997 "...greatly improved access it did not improve quality." Teacher absenteeism is rampant. Many are underpaid and are forced to find supplemental work elsewhere. According to UNICEF, more than %60 of teachers are not in the classroom teaching in over half of all of Uganda's public schools. Less than half of children are literate at the end of primary school.
The cycle of poverty is extreme. For the many poor families in the region, who often earn less than $2 per day, the cost of school uniforms, books, and stationery becomes too much to bear, pushing children out of school or leading families into debt. Illness and the pressure of domestic work keep many children from attending school regularly. Because of the lack of funding for public schools, private schools have stepped in to fill the void, but to keep these schools viable, the tuition costs are very high. This makes it impossible for most families to keep their children in school.
Only 1 in 4 children who start primary school make it to secondary school.
As a non-profit, our school's mission is to provide a quality education for every child, no matter who! In a matter of months, since the school first opened its doors, the school has grown from 90 children to over 250 children. Children are excited, parents are happy and the community is wanting to support this school. Over and above regular classes, there are weekly exams at the school to track the children's progress. Many teachers are volunteering extra lessons on Saturdays to support the success of every child. Parents are getting involved and people are volunteering what they can to keep it running. The school is also working to provide an opportunity for adults and parents to come to the school and learn skills such as sewing, cooking, baking, soap making, craft and carpentry, providing them with an opportunity to gain an income for their families.
But the needs are great!
Most families cannot pay the tuition. Many families cannot even afford to pay for basic school supplies. Many children come to school hungry and need to be fed. Yet all are welcome.
Funds raised will go to pay for a breakfast and lunch program. It will help to cover the cost of teachers' salaries, ensuring qualified and committed teachers remain at the school. It will go to buy notebooks, pencils, shoes, school bags and uniforms for families who cannot afford these basic supplies. Desks and chairs are needed in every classroom. A van is needed to bring children from farther away. Supplies are needed for training young mothers and youth in skills like baking, soap making and sewing to support the creation of income opportunities for their families.
Please support these beautiful young children to become empowered and reach their full potential! Make a one-time donation.
If you would like to make regular monthly donations please contact me and we can arrange this.