Uganda Village Partnership Program Provides for a Child's Education

05/13/11

The pile of bricks near Job Olwol’s house is evidence of what the 8-year-old wants to be when he grows up. “A builder,” Job says in a shy voice, his big eyes turning toward the ground. Job has been making the mud bricks used to build houses in his village in Uganda for quite some time. The motivated young man decided on his own one day to start making the bricks. He says he’s making them for “anybody interested in buying them.” His mother, Middy, smiles and says, “It’s training for him.”

Though Job will get a lot of practice on his own, it will be difficult for him to achieve his dream of becoming a successful builder with his own company without an education. One of the construction workers at Children of the Nations’ (COTN) Uganda Children’s Village in Lira, Uganda, lives near Job and his family. He saw the motivation and initiative in the boy and helped enroll Job in COTN’s Village Partnership Program. The program helps families care for their children in a variety of ways, including paying for school fees.

Job was attending school before he became part of COTN’s program in March 2010, but his mother always had problems finding enough money to pay the fees. In Uganda, schools work on a schedule of three terms per year. Families must pay tuition at the beginning of each term. Poor families often have enough money to pay the first and second term fees, but cannot afford to pay the third. When it comes time for the children to take the exams required to pass to the next grade, they either don’t pass because they have missed a term or they aren’t allowed to take the exam because they haven’t paid. In both situations, the child is held back and the cycle begins again, leaving the child without much of an education. This was the case for Job.

Job’s father died of an illness in 2008, leaving his widowed mother to care for him and his three older sisters and younger brother. His mom, Middy, tries the best she can. She makes some money pounding large rocks into gravel, but the work is not regular. She has a garden, which helps provide food, but not enough to sell. From the little money she manages to make, all her children attend school in some way—but it’s not always consistent. Now, with Job in COTN’s Village Partnership Program, she is relieved of paying his fees, which ensures his attendance at school and allows more money to be used for the education of his siblings. “Last year, I tried to pay the fees for Job, but failed,” Middy says. “But this year, he hasn’t stopped going.”

That consistency has resulted in a happier Job, Middy says. The focused and obedient boy walks the thirty minutes to school with no complaints; he knows how important his education is. “He doesn’t miss school like he did before,” Middy says.

Job, who is in second grade, says his favorite subject is math—a good start to becoming a builder in the future. He proudly holds up a mud brick from the pile near his home; he made them all himself. His mother smiles at him, wanting to encourage his determination. She is grateful she has received this assistance from COTN for Job. “God has not forgotten me because He has decided to help me,” she says. “This shows He loves me.”

As for Job, he’ll continue to attend school, “to study,” he says. “So I can be smart.” And once he gets a few needed supplies, he’ll be adding more bricks to the pile—just in case someone is interested in buying them from a future builder.

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