Welcome to the Kyabirwa School and Community Volunteer Project!
Our project "Volunteer Uganda School" is working to improve the lives, education and health of
our children and community with the help and expertise of volunteers from developed countries.
Kyabirwa School and Community Volunteer Project is a registered community based initiative
(CBO) near Jinja in Uganda which offers a safe, happy, inexpensive and reliable volunteering experience to any kind hearted English speaking person who wants to come and help us!
We need volunteers for teaching our children, for pre-school, community, sports, building and construction work, electrics, carpentry, painting, minor health care - whatever skills you have can be used to benefit our children & community as a whole. You don't have to be a teacher or teach at all if your strengths lie elsewhere.
Why pay huge sums of money to volunteer when you can volunteer with us for very little and the profit, after feeding and housing you, all benefits the school? By coming to us, you will have a good, reliable volunteering experience, the children and staff will benefit from your input, teaching and learning standards will be raised and we can develop the school to provide better facilities.. and you will not be out of pocket! We now have a pre-school class of dear little boys and girls and a dedicated experienced pre-school teacher!
Volunteer work is also available during school holidays. You can come here to volunteer at any time.
We take university students to fulfil modules of their courses or during university vacations to experience a different environment, gap year students, people on career breaks, retired people, people who just want a holiday that's different and even adventurers!
If you wish to skip the background information below, please page down to: Kyabirwa Primary School is near Bujagali Lake (Falls), 4 miles from Jinja, Uganda. The school's budget is less than $2 per child per year which doesn't go far! Our experience of the world is limited because even teachers are poor. We started this project to get help for our children from people in the developed world. Our volunteers bring expertise, knowledge, altruism and enthusiasm. They inspire us.Until recently, the school was just shacks. Then the Uganda electricity company started building a dam on the Nile - turning the Falls into a Lake! To compensate the community the shacks were replaced with brick built, tin roofed buildings. These aren't well built, but with volunteers help we are gradually improving them.
'Priorities for the Development of our School, April 2015'.
The new dam drowned the famous Bujagali Falls so many tourist activities such as white water rafting ceased. The infrastructure of tourist services around the Falls suffered but the local people since developed other sports on the now Bujagali Lake. Slowly things are improving again.
The Head Teacher of Kyabirwa Primary School is Robinah Musakira. Our Volunteer Project Manager, Moses Owino, is one of our 20 teachers.
There are about 1100 children at the school, with classes ranging from 45 to 100 pupils. Numbers vary during the year depending on families' finances and farming needs.
Rural schools are the poorest in Uganda, but due to the buildings ours looks fine at first glance. Without this project we would have a total lack of everything and even now basic resources are still needed.
The average income in Uganda is £800 p.a. half the average for sub Saharan Africa. Our children's rural, subsistence farmer parents total household income is about £38 a month. (Uganda Bureau of Statistics 2010) They survive because they grow most of their own food and subsist on a daily meal of matoke (fried green bananas) and posho (maize flour stiff porridge) with a handful of beans. This diet is principally carbohydrate with few nutrients. There are rarely enough beans for adequate protein.
Many of our pupils are orphans or partial orphans. Life expectancy is 53. There are 1.5 million AIDS orphans in Uganda. Orphans are the least privileged in the extended family. They go to poor schools such as ours. They are the last to benefit in the home, do more chores than the parents' natural children, receive less food, are tired and less able to concentrate.
Parents must provide uniforms, textbooks and stationery, so many are unable to send all their children to school at the same time. We have adults of 18 still trying to finish primary school.
Of those who do start secondary school, some are still trying to complete it at the age of 28. Most who start have dropped out by the end of Year 2. They need to complete at least Year 4 of secondary school to be accepted for an apprenticeship.
Ugandan Schools are provided with very few teaching and learning resources. Textbooks are expensive. Pupils spend most of their time copying from the board or share one book between up to 5.
Teachers non contact time is for marking and planning. Imagine marking 45 - 100 books per lesson! Teachers earn only about £55 a month and all are supporting extended even poorer family members.
Our children are well behaved, fun and studious.
Before the volunteer project children didn’t have lunch so their concentration was poor in the afternoons, but now free lunch porridge is provided for every child, every day.
This free porridge is cooked in a kitchen funded by the parents and pupils of St John's Primary School, Bristol. Many thanks to volunteers, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Little Ealing Primary School and all at St John's who fund raised for the porridge and the building. It has greatly improved our pupils' health and their ability to concentrate in the afternoon.
There isn't a school hall so morning assembly is on the field where children can’t sit due to the wet grass.
We started our volunteer project because we need your support. Working with us either in the School or Community lifts our morale, provides us with extra 'man' power, innovations, ideas and gives us contact with the wider world. Just by coming to us with good hearts, you help us hugely.
Priorities for the Development of our School - April 2015
Now we have a few rooms with electricity, we desperately need laptops so that we can provide IT lessons for the children and teachers. Secondhand laptops are fine as long as they have Microsoft Office and working batteries as plug points are limited and there are frequent power cuts!
Below is a prioritised list for the development of the school and our needs.~~~~~
We always need Secondhand Laptops for teaching IT skills for pupils and teachers as well as for teachers to make materials for
teaching. Our teachers are becoming much more skilled now, but we only have 10 very old, secondhand laptops and even with the numbers of pupils in our school we manage to teach some skills to our older children. This is a great advantage for our rural children because children in rural schools rarely get such help. We would be so grateful if you would bring us working secondhand laptops with Office and Excel so that we can teach basic IT skills.
You could bring them with you when you come.
Ugandan school budgets don't even have enough funding for basic needs, let alone IT, yet IT skills are essential to equip our children for the modern world otherwise we will just fall further and further behind. Please help us with this if you can.
We need laptops with Windows - no earlier than Windows Vista. It would be very helpful if these laptops had Microsoft Office installed or at least MS Word and Excel (Not Open Office). If you are also able to bring us copies of MS Office & the Key, that would be brilliant.We regret that we can't use Apple Macs as it requires us to teach a different system and we don't know how to. Teaching one system is as much as we can currently cope with!
Here is our revised and up to date School Development Plan - November 2015
We are delighted to announce that the building of the School Hall is now going very well and it will soon be completed! Our children will all be able to meet in one room at the same time for the first time ever! No more sitting on wet grass in the rainy season, either!
We are so grateful to the many volunteers who have made this dream come true. You have made such a difference to us! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Pictures will follow when the building is completely finished.
School Improvement plan - November 2015
1. Renovation of the floors of P4 and P5 classroom floors which are in a very poor state.
2. Buying and installing metal doors to 6 classrooms and
metal windows to 12, thus completing door and window replacement in the
school. These can be provided one or more at a time. Labour works out
cheaper, pro rata, the more that are installed at a time but each one helps.
3. A desktop computer for use by school management, office staff and teachers.
4. Install wireless internet at the school for access to online materials
to augment those Uganda produced materials that go with the
syllabus but don't always have great content.
5. More text books for all classes. Please ask our Project Manager who will help you buy the correct ones.
In total and covering all subjects we need about 4000 new text books but
obviously we don't expect these all to be bought at once! They can be bought in very small lots.
Please do not buy anything other than textbooks. We now have plenty of story & reading books.
6. A kitchen for the teachers at the teachers' accommodation. Currently they cook on open fires on the ground outside their houses. The building would have separate compartments so that each family would have their own small space and would not have to cook outside, in all weathers.
7. Another block of 4 units of teachers' accommodation. Our aim is to eventually provide enough accommodation for all teachers to live at the school, thereby enabling them to share the teaching of classes before and after school as well as cutting their traveling expenses.
8. Renovation of the school verandah.
Please don't bring text books from your own country as they will not fit our syllabus
We are dependent on the generosity of our friends and volunteers for all these things and all that has so far been achieved. We do not receive any funding from anywhere else. We have learned that it is better to finish one building project before starting another. That way we will not be left with partially completed developments.
Please don't bring fiction books at the moment. We need help to install a proper library system to enable our staff to keep track of the books when loaned out. We need help to do this.
We also have enough calculators, pens, pencils and colouring pencils. Thank you.
Importantly, please don't think that you have to donate if you come to volunteer! We have been asked to put helpful suggestions on our website.
We are deeply grateful for the help we receive, but most of all we are just very glad volunteers care enough to travel so far to be with us.
We promise that you will not be asked for more money when you come here. We know this is a problem with some volunteer projects - but it isn't with ours. We don't do that.
Read on to the Volunteer Project page to learn how we are using this project to help our children and the community and how you too might help us to help them.