We first met Paul and Rose Bogere our second week in Uganda. I friend of our who had worked in Uganda in the past told us about the St Paul and Rose orphanage and the work Paul and Rose were doing to provide 27 young orphans with a loving home environment, a quality education, and practical skills.
When we arrived at the orphanage the children greeted with an overwhelming abundance of love and gratitude just for us being there. They showed us with pride around their small home with only two small bedrooms for all of the children to share. Each room contained a couple of bunk beds where the children would sleep three or four to a bed.
From the very beginning our team knew that we wanted to do something to help these orphans and Paul and Rose who has dedicated their lives to creating a stable home life for each of them. The biggest challenge they faced was earning the money to send each of the children to school, an expense that adds up to $50 USD per semester per child or $1350 a semester for all of them. Most the money they are able to bring in comes from the acres of crops that the children themselves are responsible for nurturing and harvesting. Unfortunately they are so far removed from any sort of economic center that there really is no market for their goods. What they are able to manage to sell doesn't even begin to cover the costs of the children's school fees.
We were drawn to Rose and Paul’s because Paul has truly taken it upon himself to make these orphans into successful members of society. Beyond sending as many of the children as possible to school (7 have had to stay home this semester because as much as he tried Paul just couldn't pull the school fees together) Paul provides them with the practical skills that will be extremely useful in the future.
One problem that many of the rising generation face in Uganda is a lack of practical skills. They all want to grow up and have white collar jobs working in an office in front of a computer. Unfortunately this isn't feasible, there just aren't enough jobs. The result is people like our taxi driver who has a doctorate but can't find a job. Turns out education doesn't solve everything unless you have a practical way to apply it.
Agriculture is something that they will never get enough of in Uganda though. Unfortunately most adolescents consider such skills below themselves. Not Paul's children though, they have been trained in the latest practices and have the opportunity to apply them on a daily basis. Team this with some basic business skills and discipline (all of which are also provided at the orphanage) and the odds are definitely in these children's favor.
Beyond the skills that these children learn from a young age they are also provided with an abundance of love and nurturing. This is why we truly felt that the St Paul and Rose orphanage was worthy of our investment of time and money.
During our second visit to St Paul’s, Paul asked us to help him build a chicken coop so that they could sell the eggs to the endless market found in the area. "I don't want money for school fees" he explained to us, "I want a way so I can EARN the school fees." Paul understands the fact the sponsors disappear and cannot be counted on in the long run. If he could find someone to pay his children's school fees this semester there is no guarantee that he will be able to find someone to pay them next semester. He would much rather have an income generating project that would next to guarantee that all of his children would be able to attend school. Consequently his orphans would also be learning how to care for and rear the chickens which is another valuable practical skill.
Beyond his goal to be able to pay all his children's school fees Paul and Rose would also like to be able to expand their orphanage so that he can provide a home for more children. "We have children show up on our doorstep every week asking for a place to live and the best we can do is give them some food before turning them away." Paul and Rose want so badly to be able to help these children but there just aren't enough resources to go around.
Unfortunately as we ran through Paul's numbers for the chicken coop project we realized that such a project was financially out of the reach of our team’s funds for the summer. It broke our hearts to have to tell him this as he looked to us with such hope for his children's future. "What if we were to cut the project in half?" he asked. "We could start smaller and then with time we could reinvest the profits into the project and it would grow." Our hearts were torn; even still it would require a substantial amount of money.
All hope was not lost though, we were determined to do everything in our power to help Paul and Rose along with their orphans achieve their dreams of a better future. It was then that our team came in contact with CREED or The Center of Resources for Economic Education and Development. Because of the generosity of CREED we were able to return to Rose and Paul’s and announce to them that we would be able to build their chicken coop after all. The children literally jumped for joy as we told them the news and Paul promised that whatever they were given they would help it to grow providing them with more and more independence.
The rest of the team’s summer was spent planning and building the chicken coop providing a meaningful experience for all involved. Now our team is back in America but the legacy made possible by CREED will not soon be forgotten. I recently received the following E-mail from Paul:
Thank you so much for the donation your team and donors made to the St.Paul and Rose orphanage. We really appreciate so much, and we a sure you that we shall be able to look after these chicks, we shall take care of the house and we shall be updating to you everything concerning with this chicken coop.
We finished the construction, we paid for the chicks, and we paid for the feeds and paid for the Vaccines, only waiting for 28 October to collect the chicks from the Ugachick office in Kampala.
So thank you very much God bless you all.
I personally would like to thank CREED for their generous donation and for making all of this possible. You not only made an impact on the lives of Rose and Paul and their 27 children but the 26 college students who had the opportunity to work on this project over the summer. It was an experience that will not soon be forgotten. Words cannot express the impact you have made on each of our lives.