A recent report from Siriba VTC tells us that young people are continuing in training on four programmes: Carpentry and Joinery, Brick Laying and Concrete Practice, Tailoring, and Motor Vehicle Mechanics and Driving. Altogether about 25 students are attending these courses and gaining significant skills which will enable them to find employment or to go on to more advanced courses in higher Technical Institutes. It is not proving easy to maintain these four courses because the hoped-for extra funds from student fees are proving hard to maintain. A number of the students are orphans with no one to pay their fees. However the income from fees is gradually rising and this is a hopeful sign for the longer term.
There are a number of challenges which face the work of the Centre which are proving difficult to overcome, the most important of which are management issues. Some time ago the local bishop constituted a new Board of Governors with a new Chair. The hope was that the new board would give the project a lift and set it on a longer term path. But this Board has not been able to hold regular meetings and, so far, too much responsibility for overall planning and monitoring has fallen on the shoulders of the Principal. The local bishop has now been elected as the new archbishop of Uganda and it is doubtful whether he will be available to sort out these issues. We are pursuing other avenues to get the Principal more support. Our overall feeling is that the vision that the project began with was too high and that a more realistic vision needs to be worked out.
A second borehole was sunk, the first one having failed, so that the Centre, as well as the Primary School which is on the same site, could have its own water supply. This second borehole has now failed and so we have had to commission another geological survey to see whether any further drilling is worthwhile. Unless the results are strong and positive we will have to try to raise money for a water harvesting system.
Another difficulty has also arisen in that the building which was provided for the Centre is now in need of repair and maintenance. In particular some of the roof trusses need strengthening. We are currently trying to get proper estimates for the work that needs doing so that it can be put in hand.
Our hope is that with a new management structure and with more modest aims the VTC will continue to serve the young people of Siriba and the surrounding area for years to come.
General conditions in Uganda are proving difficult. Instead of the very predictable rainy seasons the weather is now erratic. This affects the Siriba region in two ways. Firstly, most people in the area, including teachers at the school and tutors at the VTC, rely on growing a proportion of their own food. The changes in weather are making this very problematic. A knock on effect is that food prices in the local markets are rising and this, together with more general inflation, is making life difficult for the majority of people.
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