https://www.facebook.com/mark.bertrand.56/videos/3977097345020/?t=34The scene in the video is from just six years ago. Yes, just six years ago the construction of our Friendship School in Kagoma Gate, Uganda was perhaps half complete and still almost a year away from fully opening. This was to be the first school in the poorest of villages. The residents had nothing. Neither the adults nor the children could read or write. They were so poor that Kagoma Gate was called the “forgotten village.”
Yet, because of the generosity and effort of so many of you, this “forgotten village” now has a beautifully completed primary school. Even more exciting, in this past school year 2017, Kagoma Gate produced its first P7 candidate class. Thirty-eight students sat for the national exam and ALL but one PASSED. The one child who did not pass was facing family issues that prevented class attendance. We fully expect this child will succeed next year. Now remember this is a country in which seventy percent of its children do not finish primary school. But, in our schools in Busoga as well as Kagoma Gate, just under one-hundred percent of our children graduated!
Did I mention the chess program? In 2017, our kids brought home two chess national champions; in 2018, they brought home FOUR. Oh, and the boys’ team reached third in the nation!
Your generosity and effort have brought enormous changes of many kinds to the “forgotten village” in that same brief time frame. In less than 7 years this village of hopelessness now has, this school, a play ground, an improved water supply, and a clinic the presence of which allowed a year without a single death from malaria, diarrhea, wounds, or preventable miscarriages. Again, this village suffered NO deaths from these preventable causes.
Today Kogoma Gate enjoys improved sanitation thanks to the existence of several pit-latrine buildings. There is also now a kitchen building that provides every child with two GOOD meals a day. Our kids are healthy!
Your generosity and effort have also brought the first power and light here. Solar power provides energy to our two-room school building. These two rooms can be opened to form one grand room for church, village events, meetings, celebrations, and movie nights.
There is still plenty to do at Kagoma Gate. Sugarcane cutters make so very little that the village remains extremely poor. Yet the residents must pay everything to educate the kids. (This isn’t true in our Busoga school or any private schools.) In Kagoma Gate, this creates a sad contrast to the fact of the success of these kids in the national exam. Because of this extra burden and the absence of resources, only a small handful of our graduates, perhaps even as few as two, will attend high school this year. It’s impossible not to think about the others. But developing funding for the further education to the other “forgotten village” children will take time.
Remember though that the progress here is very real. We have taken this village out of the stone age. Many of the kids who passed the national exam will not get to high school right now. BUT, because they can read and write and have other abilities, they will qualify for jobs other than cutting sugar cane. These are skilled jobs which pay far better. The improved income will allow some in time to save money that will permit high school attendance. It will also help raise the income in the village and promote prosperity.
Some of the girls might still marry too early. But, unlike their mothers, they will be educated and able to read to their babies. When this next generation is ready for school, they will enter already speaking English and able to read. That is a victory.
Every year more and more children will attend high school and some will then go on to college. We have always believed that the greatest change for Kagoma Gate will come through the children of Kagoma Gate.
The Giving Circle is made up of seed planters, sowing seeds of hope, helping people to their feet, and giving them tools to build a better life while achieving self-sustainability.
In 2018 or perhaps 2019, we hope to build a small “factory” for a MOST cool business. We plan on making the teachers and villagers of Kagoma Gate our business partners. Much more information is yet to be shared on this. But the plan is to provide seed resources for the business and then to support it until it’s profitable. With the proceeds from the sale of items produced in the “factory”, a profit sharing system will allow our partners to save a percentage of their incomes and eventually be self-supporting. At that point the Giving Circle will be just a customer. It will be the residents who continue improving their village.
Now THAT’s a very big deal!