At that time, our school supported nursery school and grades 1-3, so a student in that rural village in Kaguma, Uganda could only expect to get a 3rd grade education. Since 2018, we have rebuilt the nursery school and added a new nursery class. We have also built and supported a new 4th, 5th, and 6th grade class. In 2023, we will have our first 7th grade graduation from the 7th grade. From there the students will go on to Secondary School. When we started the non-profit, we had 167 students and are thrilled to be supporting 352 students, with books, uniforms and Hope.
I volunteer about 20 hours a week with this organization, so that I can do my best, to make a difference in these children’s lives, to give them a fighting chance in life. I also do it to help my friend Adolf who also has a servant heart. We have so much and they have so little. So much is expected of those who have been given so much. My work as the President of KEC-A Village of Hope includes leadership, construction management, knowledge management, project management, financial management, sanitation, collaboration, transparency, partnership development, medical, clothing, web development, photography, fundraising, etc…..What I like about this effort is that about 70% of the work includes stills that I have already learned during my 42 years in the workforce and 30% are completely new skills. Some people enjoy keeping their minds sharp with games like Sudoku and Crossword puzzles, etc. I enjoy learning new things, stretching my limits and my personal growth as a human being.
My husband and I just got back from Uganda on March 13th and we partnered with another non-profit that brought three essential solutions to us. The first is that they committed to build a well for the community on our new school land in May 2023 with High School students from two schools in Tennessee. They also brought 84-day training and Real Men training to our school and a local secondary school. The 84-day program was to teach girls ages 12-18 about self defense and how to take care of their personal feminine hygiene. Without the right supplies, these girls could miss a total of 84 days of school throughout the year, so we helped them fundraise to bring the right supplies for these young ladies. The Real Men training talked about the responsibilities of men and focused on how they should respect girls and women, by always doing the right thing.
We also made bracelets, played soccer, made rabbit cages, visited classrooms, interviewed teachers and students, inspected the water situation, tested a water jug backpack to reduce the stress on the young children who carry water daily. The children were wonderful, with full smiles, and they just wanted to touch us, give us high fives, and hold our hands. They were incredibly welcoming the whole time we were there.
On our last day, the whole community came out to thank us for purchasing the land (7.4+ acres) for the new school. The children sang and danced and the parents wore their Sunday best. It was a great day of celebration. We walked the land and it’s on a hillside overlooking another hillside and a series of mountains near the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We call it the land of milk and honey because it is so beautiful and the land is so fertile. They are growing cabbage, maize, Irish potatoes, string beans and bananas on the land now and they want to build a fishpond, rabbit cages, chicken coops, and beehives as sources of sustainable income. We look forward to building a new modern school and support facilities someday.
The work I do, the non-profit that I lead, is having a tremendous effect on the whole community. Children are staying in school. Parents are volunteering and are proud of their student’s accomplishments. We are educating teachers and supporting their education and growth. Young leaders are learning new skills and are being exposed to many new concepts.
This is not a one-person show. Our non-profit has 10 people, all specializing in their own special skills. Half of them served together in the Army in Iraq and two more are family members. We work on innovative ideas on how to support our school, aligning our mission focus with the UN Sustainable Goals. We’ve partnered with three other school non-profits in Africa to learn about their lessons and to anticipate the future. We’ve enjoyed the support of Facebook Fundraisers and support from LMI. When we started our efforts, we only had one book for each classroom, but LMI helped us fund textbooks for every other student. We have also supported the school with ten LMI computers. The books were a huge surprise for the students when they came back to school after their COVID recess.
We are always looking for new members and large and small companies to help us out with your time, special skills and commitment and always financial support!! To learn more about us, please contact me or check out our Website at: kecavillageofhope.org or our Facebook page at: KEC-A Village of Hope. Come help us make a difference.