Gakuru lives on one of the many hills in Kisoro, Uganda, in a small two-room home which his parents own. His mother cooks under a leaky lean-to across their tiny back yard. After dinner, he helps his mother wash dishes…they use the water sparingly because the well is 15 minutes away and it’s a steep walk up to their home.
His mother tills the ground for other local land owners for a living, while his father works as a builder. They also plant beans and corn at their house, which serve as their main source of food. They have many mouths to feed as he also has an older sister, a younger sister, and a twin brother.
Gakuru is a confident little guy. He has dreams. He wants to become a doctor. He says that he wants to inject people, sparking a chuckle from his parents. Even though his parents barely make ends meet, he knows that his future looks better than most kids he sees around town.
Because he goes to school.
And he goes and goes…40 minutes each way to school, actually. And that includes some running and some steep climbs. Gakuru attends a school that is both a community school and a Christian school. Private schools are way too expensive for his family. Government schools are free, but it’s hard to learn in a classroom with 149 other children. But community schools charge just a modest fee, have a reasonable number of children in a classroom, and have much more involved parents and teachers. And because his school is Christian, he not only learns about God, but he also learns about respecting his parents and how to properly treat girls. Kids at some other schools think abuse by teachers is just part of school life; but since the hiring staff of his school filters and trains his teachers, he retains his innocence.
Then there’s Kisoro Kids. Gakuru’s community helped build his school and did a great job, but there’s only so much they can afford to do. When Gakuru first started attending his school, he sat on a church pew trying to balance his notebook on his leg. The floors were dirt (resulting in painful jiggers!) and the roofs leaked in the rainy season. But Kisoro Kids bought concrete for his school. His community brought sand, rocks and water and concreted his classrooms. This wasn’t done by a group of strangers. He got to see his own community do the work, and they are so proud! The same thing happened when Kisoro Kids provided iron sheets to stop the leaks. And they also provided desks, making it so much easier to do well in school.
Gakuru’s mother thinks he is confident because he’s in school; it impacts both his current character and his hope for the future. And with strong support from his parents, teachers, community, and some people he may never meet, his hope to one day “inject people” just may become a reality.
You have the opportunity to engage your family, coworkers, friends or community in adopting one of our many “bite sized” projects, which will become your own! All of our projects seek to either help lift students’ families out of poverty in a sustainable way, or to improve the quality of education at one of five elementary schools like Gakuru’s. You could raise money for textbooks for a classroom, kindergarten desks, or a pig for a needy family.
Kisoro Kids is a program of Aggie’s Arts.