Gayaza community School, Uganda
In southwest Uganda there is a village with warm wonderful people waiting to work with you on their humble school campus. Pictured above are photos from the many teams that have journeyed to Gayaza Village to volunteer alongside our partners there. Below is the story of how our work in Uganda began and has progressed over a long term relationship. We hope you will join us in Uganda soon to Hand Deliver Hope.
In 2015 Be The Change Volunteers site evaluators arrived in Gayaza Village. The primary school was located in the village market area where school leaders had rented small market stalls for classrooms. The classrooms were small, crowded, dark, damp, noisy from the market and smelled of the nearby pit latrine. Local leaders badly wanted to provide a better primary school within walking distance of the village for their children. They had obtained land but lacked infrastructure and equipment.
The community had already began to develop a secondary and vocational school with boarding facilities on that land. Some of those buildings were partially finished with walls and roofs but no floor or plastering. After conducting community interviews and completing the on site needs analysis, evaluators suggested finishing the vocational classrooms first and then setting up the primary school in temporary classrooms that BTCV would help finish on the main campus. The community and school leadership agreed to the plan.
In 2016 BTCV sent a team of volunteers to finish out the vocational classrooms. Doing this first was a strategic move. The vocational programs would encourage local job growth which was desperately needed in order to pay teachers. Additionally the larger vocational classrooms would provide a staging ground for on site mass production of bricks to build new classrooms and a carpentry program to locally produce furnishings for the school.
Funding was provided to finish the floor and walls of another incomplete building under the agreement it would be used for temporary classrooms to house the early childhood and primary classes this would move them quickly out of the cramped, noisy market stalls into a better facility and offset the monthly rental expense of those facilities. You will find that BTCV strategically works to use infrastructure and equipment to reduce recurring operations expenses.
The total vision for a full primary school building would take several years to complete due to the cost of building a high quality multi level structure that would provide large, bright, well ventilated classrooms for students. In addition to providing new classrooms for students BTCV knew that without committed teachers the building would be useless, "no teachers... no school." In order to maximise the use of the available land BTCV added apartments to the second floor plans of the classroom building for the teachers. These apartments offset the single greatest income need that anyone has which is rent or mortgage. There are many benefits to on site teacher housing.
The recently completed vocational classrooms made the perfect location for producing all the needed brick on site to build the new classrooms. Each year local professionals come in and work with vocational students on producing brick. Learning about consistency for mass production is a valuable skill that will help some students find better jobs after completing school.
Each classroom of the planned four classroom building was completed in phases at a rate of 1 classroom per year. The work is always done by a local professional engineer, builder, local paid trades, community volunteers and traveling BTCV Changers who come each year to help with finishing work.
In the summer of 2020 classroom number 4 was completed finishing the current planned work for the ground floor. In the coming years BTCV will construct the needed teacher apartments on the upper level of this structure.
In addition to the classroom structures, volunteer teams work with local carpenters on site to assemble new desks for the school. These carpenters are hired at the full regular rate to run their shop out of the vocational classroom at the school. This is a great way to connect students to the carpentry trade. The light carpentry work is also very interactive for Ugandans and Changers!
The photos above show the new classrooms with new, single seat, locally built student desks. These rooms are big, bright, dry, well ventilated, away from outside disruption, and ready for teachers to teach and students to learn!
Members of the New Mexico Chapter of Be The Change Volunteers took up the initiative to install a new library on campus. The school did not have a proper functioning library so it was agreed that an older classroom of the secondary school would be used for this purpose. After fundraising for a year the library was installed by a team.
BTCV has a great relationship with the local Rotary club in the nearby town of Kyotera. Each year our teams attend a Rotary meeting and are encouraged by these local servants. In 2020 the Rotary clubs of Columbia, Mo and Kyotera, Uganda joined with BTCV to complete a Rotary International Grant that would modernize the water systems of the Gayaza Campus, provide new bathroom facilities, proper washrooms for boarding females, WASH certified training, and menstrual hygiene equipment and training.
There are so many amazing stories from Uganda and many more to come! We hope that you will choose to join us on a project serving with friends and family as Changers in the future!