From Devastation to Hope for the Future!

In recent blog posts we have tried to feature one of the schools where Classrooms for Africa has had the privilege of building much needed classrooms and other educational support buildings.

This month our focus is on the small rural village of Okweta in Eastern Uganda, near the town of Soroti. East Uganda. The region is gradually recovering from many years of destabilization due to rebel activity and conflict which left the area impoverished.  In 2013 parents and church leaders established the school to help improve educational opportunities for the local children. From 2015 through 2018 Classrooms for Africa funded the construction of a nursery through Grade 7 Primary school on land donated by the village authorities

Following discussions with leaders and parents, it became apparent there was a real need for a high school in the community. The children who wanted to study after Grade 7 were forced to travel long distances to the nearest high school and pay school and boarding fees. In 2018 a high school was started by the community in rented facilities in the village. The authorities once again stepped up and made available a six-acre parcel of land. The Edmonton-based group of donors who had funded the primary school, agreed to help fund a high school. Construction started on a four-classroom block in the Fall of 2018. This building was completed in time to accommodate the 100 students who registered  for the start of the 2019 school year.

Representatives of Classrooms for Africa visited the school in June 2019 when opening celebrations were held. Plans are in place to construct a science/administration block in time for the start of the 2020 school year when enrolment is expected to reach over 150 students.

Thank you donors for your contributions to this community which now can offer a future and a hope for its young people!

 

Sadness into Joy

In July our Executive Director Kory, together with his wife, Heather, sister Tanya and brother-in-law Dwayne, journeyed to Uganda to visit some Classrooms for Africa projects and in particular take part in the celebration held at Rwentutu Christian School in honour and commemoration of Kory’s and Tanya’s mother Meg, who sadly passed away 24 years ago. Joining the group were Heather’s brother Kevin and sister-in-law Michelle.

Rwentutu Christian School has received several classroom blocks funded through Classrooms for Africa over the past 10 years. In 2018 funds were procured to build a multi-purpose hall/learning centre for the use, not only of the school, but also as a centre for programs aimed at empowering the local community. The dedication of the MEG Hall and the launching of the MEG Community Outreach Program was the focus of the celebration on July 12.

Among the programs being offered and planned, the MEG Community Outreach Program will teach adult literacy, good nutrition, personal hygiene and sanitation, family planning, gardening and farming skills, child raising, financial skills, entrepreneurship and small business skills. On Sundays the building is being used used as a worship centre for the community.

The celebration was attended by members of the Rwentutu Christian School community, local dignitaries, educators from nearby schools and directors of the MEG Outreach Program. The occasion turned sadness at the loss of a dear mother into a very meaningful and joyous time. Together they celebrated the progress being made in educating and empowering the local community with joy, humour, singing and dancing.

Thank you donors who have made such a difference to a remote, impoverished community in the foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains!

















Transformation in Two Years!

March 2017 to March 2019 - A Community Transformed!

In March 2017 representatives of Classrooms for Africa visited a school in the rural village of Migamba, approximately 12 kilometers off the main road between Kampala and Fort Portal in Uganda. Although the village is small, the welcome for the group was very large. Leaders of Migamba Hillside Primary School had applied for help in funding permanent classrooms for the over 500 students they serve. Migamba is situated at the junction of a number of tribal territories. As a result the school population is drawn from many different tribal groups which settled in the area.

The team found that Grade 1 through 7 students were housed in temporary mud and stick buildings, while the over 200 nursery-age students crowded into a small mud and stick church on the site. The classrooms had very little furniture and many of the children were sitting or kneeling on the earth floors. The staff were very dedicated to providing education for these children in spite of the inadequate facilities. Because the school had a good reputation in the local community, students walked from many kilometers away to attend classes.

By January 2018 a donor came forward who has, over the past 18 months, sponsored the building of ten classrooms and an office/administration area to accommodate the now well over 600 students.

In June 2019 two Classrooms for Africa board members attended a grand opening celebration of the new facilities which was attended by many local dignitaries, community members and parents.

The contribution of the donor to the well-being, education and future of both the students and whole community of Migamba Village is very significant and much appreciated. Thank you, again and again!

Climbing the Mountain!

For the past few years Classrooms for Africa has worked with Matere Model Primary School which is located near the Rwenzori Mountains National Park in central Western Uganda. The local Church of Uganda has a ministry in the area and started the school in 2012 to help meet the need for education for the children. Rev. Jozeti, Rector and School Director, applied to Classrooms for Africa for help to build some permanent classrooms for the school. He described the plight of the community as follows:

“In the 1960’s unrest in the area resulted in homesteads being burned down. Several armies fought in the area which became a hiding place for rebel activities. In addition, natural disasters which were endured included heavy rainfall and storms, land slides which destroyed crops, homes, school and local hospital. In these circumstances disease flourished, transportation and communication services were very poor and there was school building. The community has been forgotten by main-stream society and the authorities”.

In November 2016 representatives from Classrooms for Africa visited this remote school. The group were deeply impacted by the conditions under which the community was trying to survive. The students were attending classes sitting on the ground under the trees and in the very small church building. It was decided that Classrooms for Africa would do all they could to help in a practical way by funding the building of permanent classrooms.

During the course of 2017 - 2018 Classrooms for Africa completed two three-classroom blocks at the school.

In early May this year, our donors provided the funds to build four more classrooms and an office/storage are to complete the school. In June this year representatives of Classrooms for Africa will “ascend the mountain” to attend a dedication service for the buildings and to celebrate with the local community. Below is a portion of what Rev. Jozeti recently wrote to us:

“On behalf of our community and on my own, I also write to extend our sincere and heartfelt gratitude to you and Classrooms for Africa for your innermost compassion, love, concern you have shown us.

In Mathew 15:29-32, there are these phrases; 
1. "Jesus then went up on a mountainside." Iike Classrooms for Africa went up on our mountainside to save us.
2. 29:32 Jesus himself said, " I have compassion for for these people." Like Classrooms for Africa have had compassion for us.
3. Mathew 29: 33 His disciples asked, "Where could we get bread in this remote place?" Like many people asked, where could transformation to this remote area come from. 

….. we make a flashback of how we had resorted to closing the school as we were directed by Government officials because of lack of minimum standards despite the good enrollment of pupils and the need of the school we had in the area, we really praise God for His Providence through you. The school is already licenced by (the ) ministry of education.

The disciples wanted to send people a way but Jesus intervened. Like our school was going to disappear but Jesus intervened through you.

Our words are really not enough to express our happiness and thanks. Thank you for offering another big building for to us.

Many blessings.”
Sincerely Jozeti Baluku and the community at large.

Thank you, faithful donors, for making such a difference in the lives of this community and for bringing hope for the future to their children.

The Second New School - April 2019

Following up on our March 2019 blog post, here we feature the second of the two new schools which have been waiting for permanent classrooms for over 2 years. At last some funds have been donated to begin construction! Thank you donors from Western Canada!

HOPE JUNIOR CHRISTIAN SCHOOL

This primary school is located in the small rural village of Nakibole, Lugazi District of Uganda around 50 km east of Kampala. Current enrollment at the school is well over 250 students in Kindergarten through Grade 7. Established in 2016, the school is an outreach of the New Hope Prayer Centre located on the same property. Besides education the church is also actively involved in providing help for the local rural impoverished community including digging a well with a clean water supply, health care and vocational training.

Currently classes are held in temporary wood and tin structures as seen below:

The school community was overwhelmed and excited when Classrooms for Africa was able to provide funds in April 2019 for the construction of a permanent four-classroom block. As evidenced below, project director David and his team has been busy clearing land, laying foundations and building the walls. He is almost ready for his next installment of the funds. A group from Vancouver island has supported the operation of the school for a number of years. One new classroom is being dedicated to the memory one of the group who passed away recently, while another will honor one of their members who turns 100 years in 2019!

Below are photos of representatives from Classrooms for Africa who visited the school in 2018. Note the kitchen facility in the lower right. The school provides a meal each day for the children who are often in need of a nourishing meal.

After the construction of the four-classroom block in progress, Classrooms for Africa aims to continue to raise the funds for a further six permanent classrooms, an office with storage facilities and a kitchen.

To help with this project or for information about other projects waiting for funding, please click here OR email: info@classroomsforafrica.org.





A Long Wait!

Classrooms for Africa receives many requests from struggling schools with good programs but lacking adequate permanent classrooms for the students. Because we are donor-based, we do not have funds on hand to meet the needs and have to promote projects to our donors who indicate the project they are interested in supporting. The result in most projects wait a long time for help. On our books we have several projects for which we have received smaller donations but not sufficient to start a building project.

We are very excited that thanks to donations from a number of sources we are able to start building classrooms at two new schools in month. These schools have been waiting for over two years. One of them is featured below:

NEW COVENANT COMMUNITY SCHOOL

This primary school is located near the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo in the Rwenzori foothills of Uganda. Current enrollment at the school is 423 students in Kindergarten through Grade 7. Established in 2012, the school is an outreach of the Evangelical Orthodox Church of Uganda located nearby. The church is also actively involved in providing help for the local rural impoverished community including health care and vocational training.

Currently classes are held in temporary reed, wood and tin structures as seen below:

Thanks to donors from Western Canada construction of a four-classroom block.the first phase of a permanent primary school, will start in April 2019. We received the following email from the School Director when he received the good news:

“Thank you so much. Like Simeon...I can now say: "Master let your humble servant rest in peace
...for he has seen the salvation of his people."
You cannot imagine how deep and fast I will sleep tonight! I have seen my God's hand at work
with and through Classrooms for Africa!  I was born and raised in this very village...which is so poor and abandoned....I walked for 4 hours going to school on foot, without shoes and no food! The school which I attended had only shanty temporary shelter full of jiggers! But we kept on...
And I did not want another child to go through the same. I am the first to obtain a university degree in this village! I chose to come back and "save" the future of these lovely BUT less privileged
children (just like I was) by establishing this rural community school...
I cannot wait to host you and have some story sharing with you later this year.
Bishop Tom Kiiza”
March 28, 2019

For more information about this or other projects waiting for help, please check here
OR email:
info@classroomsforafrica.org.

New Beginnings for the 2019 School Year!

Because of the generosity of our donors, in recent years Classrooms for Africa has had the privilege of providing around 30 schools in Uganda with new classroom facilities. These are making a huge difference in the lives of thousands of students. With the start of their 2019 school year in February, we checked with the schools who received new buildings during 2018. Here we share encouraging reports from just a few of these schools.

Okweta Nursery and Primary School located in Soroti District:

387 students enrolled for the 2019 school year over all elementary grades, with three more qualified teachers employed.

St. Joseph Nursery and Primary School located in Kasese District:

351 students enrolled for the 2019 school year over all elementary grades.

Rwentutu Christian School located in Western Uganda:

211 students enrolled for the 2019 school year over all elementary grades

Mother Kevin Nursery School located in Kampala, Uganda:

Over 300 students enrolled for the 2019 school year over all three nursery grades, more qualified teachers hired

Matere Model Nursery and Primary School located in Kasese District:

Over 310 students enrolled for the 2019 school year over all elementary grades, more qualified teachers hired.

Albert Valley High School located in Ntoroko District:

Over 310 students enrolled in the 4 high school grades (S1 - S4).

And the results are . . . . . . .

January is the month when schools in Uganda learn how their Primary 7 grade students fared in the state examinations the previous year. Here we feature the academic results of five of the primary schools we have recently been able to provide permanent classrooms for, thanks to our donors. Students were examined in Math, Science, Social Studies and English. The results support the reports from most of the schools when Classrooms for Africa carried out its 10 year survey last year. Improved learning and teaching environments were one of the major factors reported on.

Broadway Nursery and Primary School, Masaka:

Of the 114 students writing the exams, 98 scored first grade and 16 scored second grade. This is the best performance the school has ever had. The girls in particular excelled. Congratulations Broadway staff and students!

Creamland Nursery and Primary School, Kireka slum, Kampala

Creamland performed highest in the whole of Wakiso District. Of the 26 students who wrote state exams, 17 achieved first grade, 7 achieved second grade and 2 achieved third grade. Congratulations Creamland staff and students.

Migamba Hillside Primary School, Kyegegwa, Central Uganda

Twenty-nine students wrote the exams a Migamba Hillside. Of these, 3 obtained first grade, 22 obtained second grade and 4 obtained third grade. The school overall ranked best in their district and sub-county. All students qualified to go on to secondary school. Migamba school only received their first permanent classrooms halfway through 2018! Before that they were using a temporary wood and tin structure. Congratulations Migamba Hillside staff and students.

Okweta Primary School, Soroti

Okweta graduated their first Primary 7 class in 2018. The 7 candidates all passed and qualified to go on to secondary school. Two of the 7 received second grade status while the remaining 5 achieved a third grade level. Well done, staff and students for blazing the trail for future students!

Vineyard Christian School, Soroti

Of the 15 Primary 7 students who wrote the state exams at Vineyard school, all passed and are eligible for secondary school entry. Eight of the students achieved first grade and the remaining 7 achieved second grade. Vineyard ranked 20 out of 360 primary school in the whole Teso region. Congratulations to all the graduates and to the hard-working staff!






Celebrating Ten Years and Making a Difference

This month Classrooms for Africa winds up the celebration of ten years in operation. Thanks to our many faithful donors we have been able to construct the equivalent of over 380 permanent classrooms in 60 schools in 8 countries in Eastern and Southern Africa. The impact on local communities is immeasurable. All schools we have worked with are independent Christian schools run by communities, concerned about the quality of education available to children in their area. Building projects have ranged from single classrooms to complete schools. In addition to regular classrooms we have built science laboratories, multipurpose rooms, offices and storage area, dormitories, kitchens, pit latrines, wash “houses” and rainwater harvesting systems.

 One of the schools that has benefited from partnering with Classrooms for Africa is Rwentutu Christian School, located in the foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains in Western Uganda. The school is part of a community project that also includes a medical clinic, adult education programs and a women’s micro-credit initiative.

The Kambere family, Ugandans now living Canada, founded the Umoja Operation Compassion Canada Society as a vehicle to provide assistance to the needy in their home area of Uganda. In 2005 Umoja, through the Kambere family, provided the land for the establishment of the Rwentutu Community Development Project and the school. Using an old house on the property and four classrooms built with the help of a Christian school and church in Canada the school was started.

Classrooms for Africa became involved, in our first year of operation in 2008, with Rwentutu Christian School. That year, with funds provided by the Glenmore Christian School Community in Calgary, Alberta, a four-classroom block was built. In 2010 a second four-classroom block was constructed, this time funded by individual donors in Western Canada. A three-classroom, Early Learning Centre, was built in 2015 funded by Christian Schools in Western Canada. Finally in 2018 a large multi-purpose complex with meeting hall and storage was funded by donors from Western Canada and the UK was added. 

 

The teachers at Rwentutu Christian School have received training and professional development through the programs operated by ACSI Western Canada and ACSI Uganda. 

Today Rwentutu Christian School enrolls over 210 students in Kindergarten through Grade 7. The Grade 7 students have consistently done very well in their State examinations with a pass rate of 100%. The school is rated very highly by the district education officials. 


The School and Community Project continues to grow, benefitting many families in this impoverished area through the provision of quality education for children, a clinic, adult education programs and other services. 

 

Classrooms for Africa CEO, Kory and his family members have visited the school many times. The new multi-purpose complex is dedicated to the memory of their mother, Meg Sorensen. As well, a MEG outreach program is going to be launched in January to benefit women in and around Rwentutu village.

 It is good to join hands and partner with various organizations to ensure the education and future of a community previously in great need. Thank you all donors and supporters! 

1 Rwentutu School (2).JPG

 

 

 

HOPE FOR HIGH SCHOOL

In this, our tenth year of operation, we at Classrooms for Africa are reminded of one of our very first projects. The project was to come along side a Ugandan community to help them fulfill their dream of building a high school. The goal of the community was to provide a safe, nurturing environment for students graduating from the Hope Primary School in Masaka, a project they had started 10 years earlier. In addition the School wanted to help the many young people, especially girls, who had fled abuse in the north of the country caused by the war and the abduction of children. 

 

Although the founders, with the support of the school community, had purchased a large piece of land outside of the town of Masaka, they did not have the resources needed to construct the buildings to make the dream a reality. Representatives from Classrooms for Africa had met founders Vincent and Mary at a teacher’s conference where they had shared their dream. Although Classrooms for Africa was still in the stage of being registered we were able to provide some funds to help to start the ball rolling. By 2010 the first four-classroom block was completed and an administrative building was well underway. Hope Comprehensive High School opened that year and was given accreditation by the Uganda education authorities. Initial enrolment was around 60 students in S1 and S2 (Grades 8 and 9).

 

Since that time several other buildings have been constructed including large dormitories for girls and boys, ablution facilities, a second classroom block and a kitchen. Donors from Western Canada funded all of these buildings. Over the years the school leaders have worked, with the support of the community, to develop the grounds, create playing fields and provide resources such as a solar powered computer laboratory. 

 

Today the school offers S1 though S5, with S6 to be added in 2019, and enrolls over 465 students! The leadership and staff of Hope Comprehensive have played a significant role in providing teacher professional development in the area and in supporting founding and growth of ACSI Uganda. The students do well in national examinations, written at the end of S4, and the school is ranked in the top 10% in the district. Many of the School’s graduates go on to further studies at universities and colleges throughout the country. 

 

The story of Hope Comprehensive High School reminds how rewarding is it to take the hand of a struggling, committed community and come alongside with resources to make a dream come true. Thank you donors and leadership!