Over the past few months, I have spent time traveling around several schools in rural western Uganda. I have met with students and teachers and everyone else in those schools. I have found, however, that I tend to spend more time with students because their enthusiasm for learning is really encouraging. Many of them sit in crowded rooms with dusty floors. They lack footwear and barely iron their uniforms. Many also lack school essentials, like books and pencils. They sit on torn mats and bend their backs to write from their laps.
You may be tempted to feel pity for them before seeing the vibrancy in their eyes as they strive to listen to every bit of word from their teachers. Some of them pack cold food which they eat during break time. Others, without enough food to spare, suffer hunger all day. In the afternoon, their eyes are sunken and they look miserable. Whenever I look at them, I feel torn apart. I sometimes share my small lunch with about ten learners; at least everyone gets a bite. When I asked one learner who looked malnourished about his eating habits, he said that his family could only afford one meal a day, which was not sufficient.
One day, I visited a school called Kasiisi Primary school – located in one of the most remote parts of western Uganda – and felt a lump in my stomach. The children, both boys, and girls looked dirty and hungry. The learners told me that they lacked water and had spent about a month without showering since the little water available was being used to prepare lunch. They, however, added that, for the last few days, the school had completely run short of water and only afforded to prepare very little food and they thus stayed hungry most of the time. This beat my understanding because I thought that access to clean drinking water should be a priority. How could the school management have failed to know that? Therefore, I strolled to the principal’s office to have a discussion with him.
After a long conversation, I learned that the school had an underground tank which was meant to harvest rainwater. In addition, they had plastic tanks donated by UNICEF also meant for collecting rain water. However, following climate change due to global warming, Uganda has been among the countries in Africa that have suffered drought. There is no rain and when it comes after a long time, it is destructive. This is because it comes as a heavy downpour and is often accompanied by wind. When I asked the headmaster about his plans to solve the water shortage problem, he told me that they had thought of constructing a force pump but when the surveyor came, he said that the topography of the area was unsuitable.
Therefore, they deemed it important to build a shallow well to which they would connect pumps that would pump water to school. This school is on a plateau, which means that the well is located in the valley. It is about a kilometer and a half from the school. If the school can get access to water a consistent water supply, more than a thousand pupils will be saved from the suffering they have faced due to water shortages. Unfortunately, the school started the construction without any money and has so far managed to borrow enough money to buy the few materials they have used. They lack money for buying a durable and powerful pump and pipes for channeling water. In total, they are looking to raise about 3000 USD to complete the construction project. The school is requesting everyone to contribute to their fundraising campaign, by donating directly to the following account number: KASIISI PRIMARY SCHOOL PTA A/C no.1300067178 or using mobile money on 0774943034.
In Africa, there are many schools in such critical condition and this has resulted in high dropout rates for children, especially girls as they would prefer staying at home than going to school with unhygienic bodies. Your contribution will be a small but positive step towards ensuring that all children are afforded the education opportunities they deserve.