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Campaign to educate AIDS orphans in Uganda began with one child's courage

Page history last edited by Rosemary 8 years, 8 months ago

Campaign to educate AIDS orphans in Uganda began with the courage of one child

The emPOWER Campaign is a unique, grassroots program supporting primary education for orphans and vulnerable children living in the Kabarole District of Uganda, that grew from the story of one young boy. It is the only program that supports primary education for orphans in this part of Uganda. emPOWER stands for em(Providing Orphans & Vulnerable Children With Educational Resources).

Andria Sherrow, executive director of EDUCATE Foundation, used to walk her six-year-old daughter to Kyanyawara primary school each morning along the village road on the edge of the rainforest. She often saw one young boy, wearing torn shorts and torn shirt and no shoes, and gradually learned his story. “His name is Muhebwa Richard. His parents died three years ago and he was living alone, working to raise crops on his small plot of land to survive. Richard couldn’t afford the required supplies to return to school – but he desperately wanted to.”

As Andria learned more, she decided that something needed to be done. “I decided I couldn’t leave Uganda without a plan to help educate the orphans.” The emPOWER campaign was developed in meetings with village leaders, the school PTA, teachers and parents.

emPOWER buys Ugandan jewelry and crafts, made by the Community Action project in the villages where the project works, at fair trade prices and sells the jewelry at fundraising events in the United States. 70% of the Community Action Project members are caregivers of emPOWER students. Those funds then provide educational materials so orphaned and vulnerable children can go to school.

The emPOWER campaign also helps sponsor students who have completed their primary education, to attend secondary school (8th-12th grade), which is not free in Uganda. School fees of $700US per year for room and board plus tuition are completely out of reach for orphaned and vulnerable children. Sponsors receive school reports, annual progress updates and letters from the student throughout the year.

Richard, whose story inspired the project, was sponsored in 2004 and received clothes and basic school supplies; a uniform, shoes, exercise books, pens and pencils. Despite being away from school for three years, he was in the top three in his class by December graduation. He continues to be sponsored and is doing well.

I learned about this story from Brandon Croke, whose business school class is helping with the project's promotional work. The story was prepared from information on the project website. For more information, contact Andria Sherrow, Executive Director, EDUCATE Foundation, P.O. Box 246 , Athens, Ohio 45701, USA. Email.


For more stories about work with and for orphans, see:

African, Canadian grandmothers reach out to help AIDS orphans

Centre brings women together in African slum to care for AIDS orphans

Canadians reach out to help the orphans of Lesotho attend school

Coping with the grief and loss of AIDS: memory projects bring hope to Africa

Fishmongering brings self-help to HIV-positive people in Homa Bay

Kenya women's network focuses on local food sources to support people living with AIDS

Successful model sustains AIDS orphans by rebuilding villages sustainably

Californian’s gift of two cows provides milk for Tanzanian orphans

Centre brings women together in African slum to care for AIDS orphans

Jacaranda school brings hope to AIDS orphans in Malawi

Local, international volunteers build homes for orphans in Romania

Creating a sustainable, caring community in an abandoned Swazi mining town

Providing hope for survivors of genocide: Rwanda's Polyclinic of Hope

Giving the gift of hope – Sam Tushabe and Action for Empowerment


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