Caring for Vulnerable Children
Kamwenge Secondary and Vocational School recently celebrated five years of changing lives in a destitute community in the Midwestern part of Uganda. Calling this a five-year journey only captures a glimpse of the work that has been done and that continues to be done in this largely unreached area of Midwestern Uganda.
The school was born out of the desire to fulfill the whole mission of Christ - not only to preach the word but also to teach people and empower them to break free from ignorance, poverty, and disease thus enabling them to live fulfilled lives. Our wish was also to help the community reach its potential and be knowledgeable enough to utilize the opportunities in an area as naturally endowed as Kamwenge. What began as a vocational and secondary school is now home to a student population of over 200 students and a robust kindergarten and a health outreach unit for the community.
Kamwenge Secondary and Vocational Institute (KSVI) began in February 2007 with 25 students. At that time there was a single classroom block, but we have since expanded this to have more classroom space and larger teachers' accommodations in the area. There are two dormitories – one for boys and one for girls - each with a capacity for 50-60 children. In addition to this, there is a school farm, a playground, a kindergarten, a carpentry workshop, and a rain harvesting facility. A bigger water facility with the capability of serving a wider community is underway. The school is duly registered by the Ministry of Education.
Good Shepherd Kindergarten
In 2009, we realized that the success of academic performance and behavioral change that we hoped to plant, and so lay the foundation for our transformational Kingdom work, required us to begin our efforts with a younger population. So, we decided to create a unit for young children - a kindergarten to shape the required values in the students at a tender age. The pioneer work was done by Elizabeth Mbabazi, an experienced children’s minister and trained kindergarten and primary teacher. We have since had two graduation ceremonies, and a primary school unit is now growing out of it. This seemed to us to be a necessity, because it became hard for our kindergarten graduates to fit into the cultures of other schools. The parents of these children felt that they could not trust other schools in the community with the sustainability of the work that was done with these young children in the kindergarten. However, due to limited facilities, the numbers are still few both in primary one and two.
The school's vocational focus includes tailoring and knitting; carpentry and joinery; bricklaying and concrete practice; agriculture; and metal work. Our vocational school graduates are already making visible and dramatic changes in the community. Please read the story of Nuwagaba Patrick, below, who represents a life transformed:
Nuwagaba Patrick is a lame boy who came to the school through OURS Ruharo, an orthopedic rehabilitation practice in Mbarara. The desire of the doctors at OURS was that Patrick would get an education at KSVI that would empower him for his future. Patrick went through the vocational section and learned knitting. Hailing from the neighboring Kyenjojo district, Patrick, whom many had given up on, began to practice knitting even before he graduated. The school management agreed to support him in his endeavors. He has been able to make sweaters for the school, earn from his work, and prepare for life after graduation. The OURS team was so excited about the transformation that took place in his life at the school that they bought him a knitting machine. He is now happy and hopeful, and his dream is to expand his business and live a more impactful life in his community.
We plan to share with you more facts about the effect of the school on the community, especially as seen through the lives and work of students who have gone through KSVI. The community is both grateful and cognizant of the impact of the school on the work of transforming the area. The area education officer, Eric Tumwiringiye, believes that, "KSVI is a model school in the whole of Kamwenge." We are so grateful for your partnership with us in this work.
On a sad note, KSVI lost one of its students, Herbert, to cancer on February 25, 2012. Herbert was a Christian who first came to know the Lord when he arrived on campus in 2007. Herbert was a strong Christian influence and leader among other students. He loved art and soccer. He would have been a senior this year, looking forward to continuing his education beyond KSVI. Herbert wished that some of his siblings would be able to attend KSVI one day. We cannot do this without your help. We thank you on behalf of this community for the generosity you have shown us the past five years.
Many blessings to you and your families,
Rev. Canon John Mulindabigwi
Partners in Mission, Great Lakes Region