Empowering children in rural Uganda through access to Education
We believe the next step to expanding the scope of the work ETH has done in the rural village of Mpunde is to provide affordable, quality education for the children, allowing them to escape the vicious cycle of poverty that they were born into. We believe that all human life is precious and equal and that all should be able to live in good health and have access to education.
THANK YOU for partnering with us to extend grace and offer hope and love to these families and beautiful children. Their future is brighter because of YOU!
We realize that although we cannot change the world, we can change the world for one person at a time. In supporting the development of Educate Mpunde, you will be helping to provide children in this village the incredible privilege and opportunity of a healthier and more secure future. We can all agree that education is an essential tool for a successful and fulfilling life. This impact reaches these individuals, their communities, and beyond!
Help Us Build a School
Our group of nineteen students from all across America joined alongside fifteen Ugandan students and traveled to rural, eastern Uganda for the 2023 Global Health Experiential Fellowship. In the process of conducting the mental health research we came for, we fell in love with a beautiful country full of gracious, joyful people, but also facing immense poverty and squalor. Living in Mpunde, a rural village in the Buyende District, we quickly began to understand the severity of our neighbors’ desperate medical, mental, and physical needs. From the moment our feet met the red dusted dirt roads of the village, hundreds of kids curiously surveyed the strangers joining their home. But that curiosity quickly turned to acceptance - we were welcomed with kindness and sincerity. Every walk outside was filled with the sounds of our names called out from bright white smiles and friendly faces. No meal was eaten without the kids in the village. No sunset passed without them pulling us into their games of “Statue” or “Cat and Rat” or taking us on an adventure through the farmland to see the “mountain.” Through lots of laughter and conversations in broken Lusoga, we began developing deeper personal connections with many of the kids in the village. We learned what made them smile, while also learning the incredible plight of their circumstances. Hungry faces lined the streets; so many children without their next meal guaranteed. Crammed huts held ten or more family members, and disease spread rapidly through the community due to poor sanitation and contamination. These truths were overwhelming to witness, and any attempts to help seemed daunting - but we couldn’t ignore the unrelenting conditions in front of us. The more time we spent with these kids, the more it ignited our desire to try and provide an opportunity for them to receive a proper education. We wanted to be strategic with the power to bring significant, long-term, positive change to the families and the village where we served and played. Upon returning home, we all sought to alleviate the longstanding problems that we were exposed to with a constructive, sustainable and locally-led approach.
While there are many contributors to the difficult lifestyle of individuals in rural Uganda, we can try to help alleviate some of the hardships by providing aid in one aspect at a time. Empower Through Health (ETH) began by addressing the most important challenge this village faces, which is health care. Since 2018, over 30,000 patients have been treated at Mpunde Health Center, where patients receive outpatient care, childhood vaccines, mass drug administration, deworming campaigns, maternal and child care, deliveries, and mental health services. To complement the health care provided by ETH in the rural village of Mpunde, we students feel passionate that the next step to uplift the community is to provide affordable, quality education for the children, allowing them to escape the vicious cycle of poverty that they were born into. However, receiving a proper education is an extremely significant challenge for the children of Mpunde Village. The problem is multifold. 1) Quality of Education The quality of education available to the children of Mpunde is extremely poor due to an outdated curriculum, poor infrastructure, and improper teaching standards. For example, students in public schools in the village may attend school for years yet still be unable to write their name. 2) Dropout Rates Dropout rates exponentially rise as students reach higher levels of education, due to external factors such as providing child care for their siblings, lack of feminine hygiene products, a young average age of pregnancy, and lack of continued education opportunities for those who would otherwise be able. While 80% of kids in this district attend primary school (ages 6-12), only 20% of those students end up continuing their education to secondary school (ages 13-18). 3) Poverty Poverty engulfs most of the families in the community, making the cost of simple items such as books, pencils, and backpacks a significant and often insurmountable barrier for most children to continue schooling. For example, one mother who we befriended during our time in Uganda is the primary caretaker for her 6 children and only brings home a salary of 12,000 UGX in a month – the equivalent of $3.28 USD. Therefore, because the cost of primary school in Uganda is $129 USD per year for a child, it would take her over 3 years’ salary for one child to go to school for a year. So when a mother is trying to decide whether she should feed her children or send them to school, the decision to ensure the children’s survival overrides the push for education. Our goal is to help take away this decision for these families. Without an education, these children will grow up to live the same kind of lives their parents and grandparents are living—unable to secure a job or send their own children to school, perpetuating the cycle of poverty. After realizing the vast need for quality education and the lack of funds for school fees, we determined the first step to helping this village was to take action towards increasing the number of children in school, as well as improving the quality of education received. We initially began our efforts by sponsoring individual children. However, with further discussion and research, we realized that we needed to expand our ideas to encompass the bigger picture. We believe a more sustainable and impactful approach is to create and develop a new school in this village.
We believe that all human lives are precious and equal and that all individuals should be able to live in good health and have access to education. We realize that long-term, sustainable improvements can only be realized through active, ongoing collaborations with the target communities at every level. With our values of providing affordable education, sustainable community development, social entrepreneurship, and local accountability, we are building a new school in this village. Not only will this school provide an improved curriculum, local economic development, and ultimately a more educated generation of empowered leaders, but it will also allow for a shift in the trajectory of these children’s lives as they can ultimately break the cycle of poverty into which they are born. Our model will be centered around three main areas – education, health care, and economic development. We believe that rather than fostering further dependence on outside organizations through creating another charity, we will instead focus on empowering this community to become self-sustainable through addressing the root cause of their issues and enabling their local leadership to provide solutions through long-term development opportunities. Our mission is to empower both the school and health center to become free of dependency on donations by generating 100% of their operating budget. We will provide scholarships and financial aid to the most vulnerable children in the community who cannot otherwise afford an education. These children will intermingle with the children who can pay, keeping all supported students anonymous, equal to their peers, and without the stigma of being in need. While we know this is a big undertaking, we feel that this is the best strategy for long term change to impact the lives of these children and future generations for the better. ETH has already successfully established relationships and connections in Mpunde Village through its health facility, and we will build upon these connections to start the school.