RWENTUTU COMMUNITY HUB
Umoja Operation Compassion Overseas Project at the Rwentutu School in Kasese has worked diligently to support the education of its village children, often with inefficient funding and resources.
Amos Kambere has encouraged partnerships and increased the awareness of the need to support children and families, both in his adopted country, Canada, as well as in Uganda. Through an exceptional understanding of the importance of education and health care, Amos has worked diligently to engage educational, political and family members around the importance of education, health and economic stability in support of our global children and their need to pursue lifetime goals and dreams.
Over the past years, the Umoja Overseas Project in Rwentutu has offered:
- Physical land and space for the development of community integrated services of education and health care an elementary school for children from Kindergarten – Grade 7.
- Fresh well water at the school.
- Dormitory for 50 children and teachers.
- Ongoing educational professional development through volunteerism of teachers in Canada and the United States.
- Practicum placements for student teachers and health care professionals.
- Establishment of a medical centre for the children and village members.
- Micro-financing for village women to better improve their lives and those of their children who attend the Rwentutu school.
- Opportunities for partnerships that promote and foster awareness of global understanding of the importance of universal, quality education and health.
At this time, it has become apparent to Amos and the Umoja International team that through integrated community services, sustainability of programs and services can be obtained by increased awareness and engagement of all community members through the building of a school/village community hub.
The school/village community hub facility provides easy access for Rwentutu educational and health professionals to serve children and their families. As a place for broad-based programs and services, this village community hub can offer village families, facing multiple and complex needs, a unified one-stop destination to receive help, resources, professional advice, educational information and healthy living opportunities.
In addition, working effectively at the Rwentutu School requires that collaborative efforts take place to ensure that the team of professional Umoja personnel, teachers and volunteers are: leaving no gaps in services; making best use of limited professional and volunteer time; coordinating efforts to help families help their children through access to medical services, literacy experiences, and family fun; making best use of funding dollars; and continuing to address accountability and sustainability of the Rwentutu School through effective school and community planning.
Ideally, it would be a great asset to build school community connections by securing a village community hub facility that would promote a sense of community development through multi-purpose use for school children and village families.
This facility would, for example:
- Expand on the established school and medical clinic facilities.
- Offer parenting programs and educational and health information.
- Provide ESL experiences for parents and community members.
- Encourage healthy living through a community kitchen and garden.
- Increase awareness around the importance of family and school connections.
- Provide a space for professional development workshops.
- Promote school sustainability through community event planning.
- Create a space that instills community pride, encourages school/community social, emotional and environmental security.
Through partnerships with families, teachers, and volunteers, the Rwentutu team is interested in the well-being of children and families. This team appreciates the impact that these partnerships have had on the overall academic and social success of children as well as the facilitation of health and community services, thus, leading to comprehensive measures that promote continued growth and sustainability.
RWENTUTU COMMUNITY SCHOOL
Rwentutu School is located in the Kasese District of Western Uganda. The Kasese District of Western Uganda borders the Democratic Republic of the Congo and is the most western district of Uganda.
The district has a population of around 650,000 people. Rwentutu Community School is based in Rwentutu, a 45 minute drive away from the town of Kasese. Rwentutu village does not have access to power or to clean water. Malaria, HIV and AIDS are are some of the major health issues that affect the whole community. The majority of students reside within the Rwentutu village area and many of their parents are subsistence farmers. Our school fees are 80,000 Ugandan Shillings per term which is roughly $31.00 CAN. Yet, many parents struggle to pay the school fees which can lead to students who are unable to attend school due to lack of resources and other basic necessities.
Rwentutu Community School’s mission it to provide a quality education for all students in a supportive environment. The teachers and staff at Rwentutu truly value their students, each contributing to the positive, caring environment that every child has the right to develop in. The hope of Umoja is that the school will continue to grow and develop to include an early childhood education centre and a high school.
Amos and Edith Kambere, the founders of Rwentutu Christian Community School, were both born in Uganda. They immigrated to Canada over 25 years ago but had the dream of one day contributing to the community of Rwentutu. In 2007, they founded the Rwentutu Christian Community School under Umoja Operation Compassion Society. The school started with 90 students enrolled. The School has grown to over 250 students with a large variety of programs housed on the school grounds.
Rwentutu School would not be made possible without the ongoing support of:
RWENTUTU MEDICAL CLINIC
About the Clinic
Upon completion of the clinic in March 2012 with the help of a dedicated volunteer, the clinic has continued to serve the students at Rwentutu School as well as the broader community.
Currently the clinic runs a variety of programs to ensure the health and well being of school staff, students and community members. Our clinic is currently classified by the Ugandan government as a Health Centre Level II. According to the Ugandan Health Sector Strategic Plan, a Health Centre Level II acts as “the first level of interaction between the formal health sector and the communities”. We provide a variety of services that would otherwise be difficult for our community members to access. This clinic would have been completed without the help from St. Mark Evangelical Church in Vancouver and The women’s group in Golden BC.
Community Home Survey
Our clinic has facilitated two community home surveys in order analyze the health and sanitation of homes in the community. The initial survey was completed and recommendations were given. The suggestions included but were not limited to: having a compost pit; having a separate building for the latrine; having a raised stove; and having sanitary drying racks for kitchen ware. The second survey was completed to see the progress made on the recommendations given to community members. Many members had worked hard to improve the health and sanitation of their home.
Classroom Health Education
Clinic staff and volunteers have taken the initiative to bring health education into the classroom! At Rwentutu Community School, program facilitators visit classrooms once a week to talk about various health related issues with the students. The topics with the children include nutrition, HIV and AIDS, family planning, and malaria. This gives the children an opportunity to engage in health related topics, ask questions about healthy living, and better equip themselves as they grow and develop.
WOMEN’S MICRO-CREDIT PROJECT
The initial loan for this project was facilitated by two Canadian families, the Van Kleecks and the Managhs. This generous donation has helped the whole community as the women involved begin to engage in business. Further funding was given by the Luke 4 foundation which allowed the program to expand to its current size.
The women’s microfinance program has a revolving loan scheme. The initial loan to each women is 120,000 Ugandan Shillings or approximately $60. Every month, the women in this program pay back 3% of the interest on their loans. With this interest, more women are added to the group. There are currently 53 women in the program. 100% of all sales/donations goes directly to the women.
How the Loans Benefit Women and Families:
The loans given to our women means they have the capital to invest in business. Women in Uganda often have many dependents and as they learn about business, they can also support their families by helping to provide school fees, clothes, food, and other basic necessities. All women in the program have experienced an increased standard of living, which is not only beneficial to them, but also helps grow the surrounding community. For many of our women, an increased standard of living means: being able to build homes out of bricks instead of mud; being able to pay for school fees for their children; and being able to better provide adequate food and other essentials for their family.
After working with the women’s group and getting to know the members Umoja’s Programs Manager expresses:
These women are a true testament of determination, perseverance, strength and hope. The majority of them have not gone beyond a primary school education, still they seek to learn thus developing themselves and their surrounding community. These women aren’t just responsible for themselves and their children, most of them in addition help and support other members within their families and community. Their responsibility is great and they need continued support to provide for those who depend on them. Here in Canada we have an incredible opportunity to reach beyond borders and create change in the lives of those who need it most. The majority of the world does not live the way we live, as far as i am concerned, each one of us is rich simply because of where we were born. Any contribution no matter how big or small will make an incredible difference in the lives of these women and their families.