Teach a man to fish...

Akigyeno School is not only about educating the children of Kayepas and surrounding villages.  It is also about employing local people to work at the school, buying locally, and making things locally that the school needs.  I have been adamant that local people should be the first considered before bringing in anyone from outside the immediate area.  I don’t care if it takes a bit longer or someone needs to be trained…keep it local!

When it came to the construction crew there were 3 men that were brought in because there wasn’t qualified individuals locally.  But all of the day laborers, which there have been many, have all come from Kayepas village.  It makes me happy to see them working (although it is really labor intensive work).  They are making some money to bring home to their families.  That is what this school is about.  Improving the entire community not just for the kids.

As we are approaching time to open we need 4 teachers, secretary, cook, cleaner, groundskeeper, security guard (day and night), and someone to fetch water from the well.  The teachers are likely to come from outside Kayepas but the rest we intend to be from the village itself.

Even when it comes down to who will make the uniforms and shoes for Akigyeno students.  We want the work to be done in Karamoja versus bringing them from the bigger cities.  I had the first sets for the children made by a young lady in our church in the city.  But future needs we want to come from Karamoja.  We will pay a fair price but it will keep the funds local, supports several families, and brings money into the area.

At Pastor Philip’s church, there is a group of ladies who have received sewing machines several years back from Mercy Uganda (who we were working with prior to Ezekiel 37 being formed).  They have 8 machines.  They rent a small room that stores them and they can work in there. 

There is a young lady, Rosemary, who was part of our sponsorship program several years ago.  Rosemary made the decision to have pre-marital sex and got pregnant.  Once a girl gets pregnant, school is over for her.  So she left our program, went home, and had her child.  She has stayed with the father and they’ve since had another baby.  But Rosemary did manage to go to a one year vocation course in fashion design and tailoring.  She knows how to make clothes and other things.  I have talked to Rosemary about being the leader of the ladies group from church who will make the uniforms.  She can train the others.  Some who cannot sew can be the ones who cut the fabric or assist the sewers.  We will pay them fairly for the work.  They can save the profits and buy other material to make other items that they can sell in the markets.  I’ve seen some skirts and dresses that they’ve made beautifully.  They lack money to start up but giving them a contract to make uniforms will help get them started.

Then there is another young man, Moses, who has seriously struggled in school since I met him.  He’s about 15 years old and is being told to repeat 4th grade again this year.  Both of his parents died of AIDS, he is being raised by his sister.  The sister makes Moses work a lot when he is home and it is not a very good situation for him.  We have gotten him a tutor, spent extra time with him and he fails to thrive in it.  He is good at math but is poor in the other subjects.  We wanted to send him to a vocation school this year but have been told that he has to finish 7th grade in order to be accepted.  So that is not an option. 

But, I had a thought.  What if we taught Moses how to make the sandals for the students?  They are made out of old tires.  We talked about having sandals as the shoes for Akigyeno instead of socks and sneakers because they’ll destroy those too fast.  The children are used to being barefoot so sandals would be an improvement.

Moses could learn how to make different types of sandals.  We will buy them for the Akigyeno children.  Then, like with the ladies group, once he has some extra money can buy extra materials and make bigger ones to sell to adults in the village, market, etc.  We are going to try to find someone who makes good sandals and see if we can get Moses trained in that.

Akigyeno School is not just about educating children of Kayepas.  It is about empowering, equipping, and encouraging people to start thinking and working for themselves.  As the saying goes, “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day.  Teach him how to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.”

This school has the ability and opportunity to make a huge difference for more than just the children who attend classes.  We need your help to get the school open.  The children need to be sponsored so that we can have the money to operate the school, to get the kids in class, to employ all these people, and to purchase goods/services from others in the community.  Please visit the link below and commit to standing with us and the people of Kayepas.