On Saturday, November 3rd, all roads will lead to Kireka Army Barracks Primary School where a group of Kampala- based young professionals have mobilised resources to uplift the dilapidated school.
Located in Acholi Quarters in Nakawa, just behind Kireka Police Barracks famously known as RRU, the school is home to 719 pupils, has no perimeter fence with only two collapsing toilets and asbestos roofed dilapidated classroom blocks which were condemned ten years ago.
Friends of OVC, a group of young professionals, was formed over a year ago with the intention of pooling resources and mobilizing more to help uplift the disadvantaged children in and around Kampala.
“We initially started off collecting household items and other discarded useful items like old clothes, shoes, mattresses and blankets which we distributed to communities in Acholi Quarters. But we have since realized that we should stop giving them fish. We should enable these communities to learn how to fish. That’s why we are taking on this school to build the capacities of these vulnerable children,” says Arinaitwe Rugyendo, the patron.
This is why Friends of OVC decided to take on the school when some of its members stumbled on it and were shocked by its poor conditions while doing a tour of the slum area. The school, though under the UPE programme, is poorly funded, has collapsing buildings, very appalling sanitation and the asbestos roofing is a health hazard to the children.
“We have 719 children but the grants we get from the ministry only cater for their scholastic materials and food. Each child gets about Shs.1,600 only and this is supposed to buy them chalk, manila papers, food, sports equipment, and printed exams for a whole term,” says the headmaster Mr. Lubajja.
“The immediate problem is food. If we can have a constant supply of food, these poor kids will stay in school. The conditions are bad but at least they can study properly once they are fed,” he said. “Many children were dropping out of school because they have nothing to eat at home. Others come to school hungry expecting to find something to eat and once they don’t eat, they run away.”
On Saturday, about 50 founders of the CBO will be delivering bags of posho, rice, cooking oil and beans which they have mobilized to push the kids till the end of term. The consignment has also been boosted by a contribution of 100 bags of cement to start on the first phase of renovation.
“We definitely need more sympathisers to join us on this journey. This is our pilot project. We feel by improving the conditions of learning, these children will read comfortably and become better people in future? What we are doing is not enough but we believe it is something in the right direction, “says Joseph Nkurunziza, the Friends of OVC Executive Director.
He adds that as a CBO, they felt that it was not enough to live privileged lives and keep throwing away stuff that have gone bad when some people in our midst are going hungry and their kids can’t go to school. “We have enough to go around so let us share,” he beckons.
By Betty Ongode