The vision of the Empower A Child Training Center and School is for it to be a multiple-purpose compound, serving the holistic needs the children, youth, and community. The compound will address four key areas that will help break the cycle of poverty in a person’s life.
The center will house an elementary school and a high school, where attendees will include children in the Empower A Child sponsorship program as well as children from the community of Zirobwe. In any society, education is a key component in releasing women and children from poverty. While education is available in most regions of Uganda, the quality is very low compared to the United States and other western countries. Most schools have very little resources, sometimes as little as just one teacher book. Therefore, students learn through memorization and repeating what the teacher says or writes on the chalkboard, rather than learning through understanding concepts. Studies show that children learn through various methods, including hearing, reading, and seeing. If hearing the teacher speak is the only method being used, children who naturally learn better the other ways will be at a disadvantage.
On top of the lack of a proper learning environment, when students return home from school they often have multiple household chores to do: fetching water, helping cook dinner, or tending the garden. This leaves very little time for studying and reviewing what they learned in school. Beyond household chores, some childrens' home lives are not ideal, whether they are living with an elderly grandparent, an aunt and multiple cousins, or a stepparent who mistreats them. Often adults in the village do not encourage their children’s studies because they do not see the value of education. They believe if the child is just going to grow up and take over farming the land there is no point in receiving an education.
At Empower A Child we seek to build a school that will have all the resources that are found in U.S. classrooms. We plan to equip and train local teachers in different teaching methods so they can effectively reach every child in their classroom. We will also house children living in unsuitable home environments so they can be encouraged and given a place to focus on their studies. Giving students an opportunity to attend such a school will bring their mind set out of a life of poverty and give them confidence in knowing they can succeed in life.
The village of Zirobwe has no access to healthcare in their community. If they need medical attention they must travel 30 miles to Kampala, the capital city. The average life expectancy in Uganda is 53 years old. There is no reason why the people of Uganda should not be living longer, healthier lives. Many diseases that plague Africa, such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, typhoid, and measles are preventable. Uganda’s infant morality rate is high: nearly 90 out of 1,000 babies born do not live to see their first birthday. Beyond health, mothers lack the knowledge of how to stimulate their children’s brains at a young age to give them a head start in education.
At the medical clinic we will to seek not only provide medical care, but health education for the community. The clinic will have a special section dedicated to focusing on pre-natal care, family planning, and children’s health and development so we can give these children the very best start in life.
Vocational Training and Entrepreneurship
While educating a child is the first step out of poverty it is not the last. As education becomes more readily available to this generation, many students are graduating university. However, the job market is not increasing and competition for jobs is extremely tough. For every 400,000 graduates ready to enter the labor force, only 80,000 find formal employment.
The training center will house computers, kitchen and catering equipment, sewing machines, carpentry and construction tools, modern farming equipment, and video and photography equipment. In-depth training sessions will be offered in all areas in order to increase the students marketability in the job market, as well as helping them create their own businesses.
Although these training sessions will give our students an advantage over other college graduates, it will not change the current job market. We desire to start an in-depth entrepreneurship course aimed at training a few select students who exhibit the dedication, skills, and knowledge to start their own mass-product businesses, selling to thousands and, in turn, employing thousands. Students in this course will become job creators with the intent of adding to the economic development of their entire country.
Character Building and Spiritual Development
All the books on international development and key influences to raising a society out of poverty will all include the three components above however, if a person does not have God in their life, true change may never come.
This final component is the most important in the vision and that’s where we started first. In the fall of 2011, Empower A Child built a simple village church for the community of Zirobwe and has held church services every Sunday. Our Ugandan staff and international volunteers lead the service and children’s church. There are many Christians in Africa, but an understanding of Biblical knowledge and application of God's word in their daily lives can be lacking. Our vision for this church is to grow adults and children in the word of God so that they will be able to transform their lives on the inside. As they follow his word faithfully, live lives of honesty and integrity, and reach out to others to transform their community and country, it is our hope that they will se God's work in all aspects of their lives.