Project #5967

Training to lift young Ugandans out of poverty

Mya with her clothes collection box
Mya with her clothes collection box

Having focussed on the young people of the vocational training centre in Siriba for previous updates, I thought this time that I would tell you a little of what goes on here in the UK.

I am lucky to have six grandchildren ranging from two years to seven years old. They all live close to our home within their own settled family environments. Mya, aged six, took part in a project on Africa at her school last term. Since this she has shown a keen interest in my photographs of the people of Siriba. I have taken over 2000 during my visits - good, bad and ugly!

Mya has noticed that most of the children of her age are very poorly dressed and has decided to do her bit to help. During one of the few sunny days we had during the school summer holidays, I showed Mya some of the photographs again. She is noticing much more now than she did before the school project.

We went to a nearby sunflower field last week as she has decided that she wants to help many of the young children to have some better clothes.She has decorated her clothes collection box and is determined to fill it before I go to Siriba again. She is promising shoes, shorts, dresses and really anything else decent that she can find!

You may wonder what this has to do with a vocational training centre? Well these people need all the help we can give them and something decent to wear makes the little ones feel ten feet tall!

So watch out British Airways, it looks as though you will have to be generous again and give us another double baggage allowance!

Bosco making a Bed in his rented Workshop
Bosco making a Bed in his rented Workshop

There is a great need for the vocational training centre (vtc) at Siriba as so many of the young people in this area have no skills or training in anything at all and so the future is very bleak.

I have been to the town of Bweyale some 2km away to talk to some of the young people who had successfully found work. Not surprisingly, most local people are aware of the activities of the vtc and were able to direct me to former students who have now found work. I will briefly describe just two of them:

Bosco is aged 27 and started his own joinery business some two years after a full time course at the vtc. Although he is busy he is finding it difficult to earn enough to pay himself a modest wage after paying rent for his workshop. He is planning to go into partnership in order to share overheads and promote himself.

Then there is Susan, a 28 year old single mother. She also took a full time course and is now self employed doing tailoring jobs within the local community. She usually earns £1 per day and is always smiling! She pays rent for her sewing machine as she has been unable to save the £50 necessary to buy a second hand one.

Without our help these young people would simply not have a job at all. So the vtc not only helps the local economy but it also greatly increases the self esteem of many young people like Bosco and Susan. We are grateful for your ongoing support.

Susan working at Bweyale market for 1 per day
Susan working at Bweyale market for 1 per day
Mechanics students examine part of an Engine
Mechanics students examine part of an Engine

It seems incredible that it is approaching five months since I left Siriba. Being back at home is not quite the same as being with the people on the ground and communications by text and email are not always as efficient as we would like.

However we know that the Principal, Josie Abong, has with some help, managed to deliver a good number of promotional leaflets into the depths of some of the surrounding villages. The new term opened in January and partly as a result of all the hard work the numbers of students has risen to around thirty. Many of these are really underprivileged and so this is rewarding for the vocational training centre as well for us here at home.

We are hoping that the centre will go from strength to strength especially now that Bishop George Kasangaki has returned from a long trip to the USA, with we hope some innovative ideas!

Fund raising here continues and we hope soon to be in a position to fund some individual projects as and when the need arises.

Jobs after training - success!
Jobs after training - success!
Tools on the Shelves!
Tools on the Shelves!

My second visit this year took up most of October. We had ordered refurbished tools from Tools with a Mission and I was happy to see many smiling faces when I arrived at Siriba with them. The tutors gave some of their time to provide new shelving after some minor repairs and decorating. All tools are now secure and easy to book in and out.

We now have a new Board of Governors Chairman, Simon Oscar Okuma and a new principal, Josie Abong and we decided to publicise locally that we were in business to train youngsters in vocational skills. A good number of leaflets and posters were produced for distribution in all schools, churches and other public places. It is working and students are being signed up for the new term commencing in January 2015.

There are many youngsters who are really underprivileged and simply can not afford the fees. One of these is eighteen year old Agaba (below), who wants to study motor vehicle technology with a view to becoming a driver after a year’s course. He told me of his sad family circumstances which were verified by Bweyale priest, Rev. Jackson Labbejaloia. I have decided to fund this young man personally via HANDS AROUND THE WORLD (HATW). The total cost will be in the order of £250. Hopefully Agaba will then have a better future instead of working for fourteen hours a day, seven days a week in a dairy… payment £10 per month. He actually gets only about £2-50 after paying rent for a  tiny room. Sadly there are many more youngsters like this who need help.

I wrote an appeal letter of my own and have been fortunate to be able to raise over £3000 (plus Giftaid). You can read more and watch a short video here  As a retired Building Surveyor, I have offered to give a number of people free professional assistance for small projects in return for which they give HATW an appropriate donation. Come on fellow professionals, this is a very good way of helping the underprivileged!!! 

Siriba VTC 2014
Siriba VTC 2014

In my last report I was looking back at my February visit; now I’m keenly looking towards my next visit which is only a few weeks away!

The main thing to change since February is that we now have a new principal, Josie Abong. I have known Josie since I first went to Siriba in 2008. Since then she has studied hard at Gulu University and has obtained a Diploma in Secretarial Studies and Information Management. We all wish her well .

Bishop George Kasangaki and I have been in touch constantly since I left and he has given much help and encouragement, not only to the VTC, Govenors and staff but also to me! His keen eye and attention to detail is good news for all of us.

We now know that our refurbished tools have arrived in the 'Tools with a Mission' warehouse in Kampala. It has taken four months to reach here from Norfolk in England. Due some clever logistics by Robert the warehouse manager, and Geoffrey of Uganda Development Services, they are going to fit all of them into Geoffrey’s minibus. I am travelling with the tools and have been told that my seat might yet have to be on the roof… and we are still in the rainy season! Maybe they are joking.

The final amount raised by St Leonard’s Church, Woolaton, in their Lent appeal was £2122. We are truly grateful to the congregation for this fine effort. This will go a long way in helping the most underprivileged of youngsters.

I have now launched a personal appeal of my own under David’s guidance and I am hoping for a good response from family, friends and business colleagues. You can read it too, here:


Enthusiastic local Kids
Enthusiastic local Kids' Welcome!

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Organization Information


Location: MONMOUTH, MONMOUTHSHIRE - United Kingdom
Project Leader:
David Steiner
Chief Executive
Monmouth, Monmouthshire United Kingdom