Uganda is a unique and wonderful country that is beautifully green, unusually fertile, but it has been ravaged by war for many years. Idi Amin’s regime killed hundreds of thousands, followed by the atrocity-ridden war with the LRA rebels for 20 years in the North of the country in Gulu, ending only a few years ago. There is a huge vacuum for healing, for training and for love. A shocking 58% of the population are only 15 years old and under and child-headed families abound. There are literally millions of orphans, especially in the north of the country where we are focusing, where so many were abducted from their schools, to be forced to become child soldiers or sex-slaves to the officers of the rebels. A massive 82% of the population are suffering PTSD since suffering so much under Joseph Kony and his brutal war.
To address this dire need, we have bought farm land and property far from Gulu town in a very needy area where we have built a primary school. Due to the extremely high drop-out rate even from primary schools due to early teen marriage and the demands of poverty, we are building boarding facilities for the pupils, with local disadvantaged day students joining to our orphans daily. Our school meets all the requirements of the Ugandan Ministry of Education, plus emphasizes character building and early learning. Because the children are so disadvantaged, they don’t pay school fees, but we simply ask for some donation from the guardians according to their ability of some beans, maize-flour or school books for their child. We feel that establishing the Family Care School project has the potential to become a model that could be adapted and copied throughout the north.
The project components are:
- The school and housing for orphans & their care-givers have been made from local bricks from the land itself.
- To move away from reliance on donor funding, we’re developing a fully self-sustainable project including a farm growing vegetables, cows, bee keeping and a couple small fish farms. Establishing a mixed farm will mean that the economic base of the project is broad—so as we develop, we want to establish chickens, goats, dairy cows, fruit trees etc.
- Using student-oriented teaching methods will greatly improve the effectiveness of local teaching styles and visiting teachers are always welcome. We are already experiencing dramatically superior results in the national PLE exams because of this.
- Apart from scholastics, arts and sports, our orphans and disadvantaged children will have valuable opportunity to contribute and learn animal husbandry and farming, to broaden their skill set.
- We hope to have the project as eco-friendly as possible, and we plan to eventually introduce a bio-gas system for cooking, to save trees, utilize solar power and inexpensive wells, which can be copied by local villages, to similarly cut costs and environmental damage.