The purpose of the Ugandan Girls’ Education Project project is to enable 20 girls in a rural community in Uganda (near Mbarara) to continue their education by providing accommodation, food and schooling at Birere Secondary School.  This project emphasizes TRF’s goal of Basic Education and Literacy.  Secondary emphasis on Water and Sanitation, Disease Prevention and Treatment, and Peace and Conflict Resolution.
Ugandan Girls’ Education Project
Project Background
This project began in 2008, with the RC New Glasgow (Nova Scotia) partnering with the RC of Mbarara, Uganda.  RC Mbarara and KAWODE developed a project to meet the needs of families in this rural area who were not able to, or did not find it necessary to, send their girl children to attend school beyond elementary school. (FYI – KAWODE is an acronym for Kasana Women in Development, a small and determined group of women in the community who work endlessly to improve their community.)
Project Start and End
As mentioned, the project began in 2008.  We will continue the project with annual commitments.  Rotarian Jeanine has visited the school 4 times over 5 years, living on the school site for a total of 8 months in this time. On the last visit, she and the local Rotary contact (Nicholas Kasisi) and the chair of KAWODE (Janina Karima) agreed that they (Nicholas and Janina) would be notified in November of each year what support would be available for the next school year.  November is when the benefactors are told that they will be able to attend school for the following school year.  To clarify, the Uganda school year flows with the calendar: each new school year begins in January and ends in December.
The funds are sent directly to Birere Secondary School’s bank account.  At the onset of the project, funds were sent to and through the RC of Mbarara, Uganda.  Over the years, it has proven more beneficial to all concerned to have an invoice issued by the school and funds sent directly to the school at the start of each term. (end January, mid May, September).  The school sends copies of the bank statements showing receipt of funds.  To date, this project has raised over $166,000 from dozens of Rotary Clubs, numerous individuals and many businesses.
General Background
This project is truly a Rotary project: the problem was identified and assessed by the Rotary Club of Mbarara, Uganda, working with KAWODE and Birere Secondary School.
The primary issue addressed by this project is the continuation of school for girls by providing accommodation, food and schooling. Over the years, the wider project has resulted in a 40 bed hostal with a solar panel and furnishings, 4 x 30,000 litre tanks, 4 toilet blocks and 4 ecostoves being built at Birere and another local school.  RI’s focus of Water and Sanitation is addressed, as well as Disease Prevention and Treatment, specifically related to malaria and use of bed nets.
It is RCOS’s belief at this time that we must concentrate on the needs of the girl child benefactors.  Research shows that as girls attend more school, they are bound and determined to have their own children attend.  Capacity building in local communities flourishes with the education of girls.  Just the fact that more girls attend school has led more families to realize the importance of educating their daughters.  Simple means to avoid conflict and establish peace has been demonstrated at the school by benefactors, as viewed in person by Rotarian Jeanine Parker.
Recognition for Rotary 
Jeanine Parker reported, “On my last trip to the school, I was heralded with even more happiness and commotion upon arrival than my previous trips.  It turns out that Birere Secondary School had been lobbying the Ministry of Education in Uganda for many years to be a high school.  The support of Rotary raised the bar at the school, bringing the school more to the attention of said Ministry, who finally accredited the school to teach high school courses.  The headmaster, teachers, students, KAWODE and the broader community directly and explicitly credit Rotary for this accreditation.”
Going forward, girls who attend school as benefactors of Rotary (and their families) will continue to be aware of Rotary’s support and its impact on the wider community.  Any chance we have to speak to the power of Rotary has, and will be, acted on.
Uganda_girls_school_project_3Students join the  school at S1, equivalent to our Grade 7.  These students are quite excited to be taking part in Secondary School.
Uganda_girls_school_project_5The morning ritual of sweeping the paths with branches.  There is no pavement anywhere near the school.  The paths are nice and neat, the students are covered with dust.
Students line up for meals 3 times a day, plate, spoon and cup in hand.  The same food every breakfast, then the same food every lunch and supper.  Very occasionally a banana piece or avocado is part of the meal. Students who walk (day scholars) join the line at lunch.  There is always a person checking for meal cards - no meal card, no food.
Making way for soccer - first the field is cleared of the local cows.  The cows are the field groomers and often wander onto the field while games are being played.  Expert soccer players among the students don't let the cows inhibit the play - they even pass the ball between a cow's legs.
Uganda_girls_school_project_3When it rains , it RAIN!  But the game goes on.
Project Contact:  Jeanine Parker, chair of RC Ottawa South International Committee