It takes a village


On a gently sloping hill, just off a dirt road, in a little village a couple hours drive outside of Kampala, sit 172 smiling students – a majority girls – eager to learn.

Every day, with the nearest government school 5.5km (3.4mi) away, they travel from six nearby villages to meet in their respective “classrooms” – one, a makeshift shelter built from papyrus; the other, a shady spot under the branches of a large jackfruit tree.

Their teachers – one man and one woman, though untrained, are nothing if not dedicated.

Parents and guardians make a contribution of UGX12,000 ($4.62) per student each school term to ensure the “school” stays open.

All in all, everyone is doing the best they can with the resources at their disposal.

Thanks to One Day’s Wages, those resources have grown immensely.

Nearly two years ago, Seattle-based One Day’s Wages made an incredible commitment: to leverage their network of supporters to raise $30,000 and match their contributions dollar for dollar, all to construct a primary school for 325 students in rural Uganda.

The motivation? The cost of one day of school in the US = one year of school for a student in Uganda.

Students read. People ran. Classes walked. Individuals fundraised. Kids gave up their birthdays. Dads became triathletes. And one year later, with contributions coming in from all over the country, $60,000 was raised. Their part was done.

At the same time, halfway around the world, a small plot of land – nearly three acres – sat empty. Years before, an older man made a wish for a school to be built in the area; his home. When he was alive, he helped build a church but was never able to see to it that a school be started there. When his grandsons heard of Building Tomorrow’s work, they made an offer to donate the land in their grandfather’s honor.

Plans were now in motion for Building Tomorrow’s 15th academy.

In April 2013, just a few months later, parents from six surrounding villages gathered for a commitment-signing ceremony. They signed their name and publicly committed to collectively volunteering approximately 20,000 hours of their own time and labor over the coming months to build a school and support the education of their children.

One month later, armed with a finalized set of blueprints, a foreman and team of skilled masons, and one of BT’s Community Development Officers, parents and community members in the villages surrounding Mabaale in Kalungu District, Uganda, officially broke ground on what will come to be known as their very own Building Tomorrow Academy of Mabaale.

On behalf of the entire BT team – both in the US and Uganda; the parents, families and nearly 450 primary-school-age students awaiting their new school in and around Mabaale; and the wishes of an older man who wanted nothing more than a school for his village; webale nnyo One Day’s Wages.

Webale nnyo.

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