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X-SUBA Sport4Development Uganda started as a sports program, but it quickly expanded into providing educational opportunities for children who didn’t have them. Sports are incredibly important in providing an educational platform for children, but it can’t really address illiteracy.
And in Walukuba, where the average daily wage is less than $1 per day but primary school costs $15 per semester, you find a large number of children not getting a proper education.
This, of course, has trickledown effects that further keeps the community in poverty, struggling with things like malnutrition and alcoholism.
X-SUBA has a few different programs that address basic educational needs in Walukuba. There are so many amazing stories about what disadvantaged kids have accomplished when given the opportunity to learn.
In fact, while writing this, I watched a new film on Netflix called The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind, based on a true story. A 13-year-old boy in Malawi sneaks into school and finds a book about wind energy. He builds a windmill and saves his village from famine, eventually going on to graduate from Dartmouth and bringing science programs to youths in Malawi.
I see the same hope in many of these kids involved with X-SUBA.
X-SUBA’s Learning Center has been around for a few years now. Three days a week they provide morning learning sessions for kids in the community. Mondays are Critical Thinking, Wednesdays are Math, and Thursdays are English.
Because of X-SUBA’s small learning space and volunteer-only teachers, they need to keep classes small, to around fifteen children. They also only let each child stay for one year; this is not to be a substitute for a proper primary school education but rather a buffer for parents to learn about tuition budgeting or for the children to find sponsors.
I was impressed with the number of incredibly bright kids in this program – kids who deserve to be in school but can’t for financial reasons.
A number of parents I spoke to said that their children love the Learning Center. They come home and tell their parents about what they learned that day, give them drawings they did in class, and share their workbooks.
One such situation is Emma and his younger brother Bartho. Emma and his brother live with their single mother and three other siblings in a small one-room house. Emma’s mother used to farm, but when new factories were constructed literally across the street and upwind, her small farm stopped producing. She now breaks rocks at a nearby quarry to earn money. All she wants to do is provide an education for her children; she puts all the money she can towards school and scrapes by for rent and food. One child is in school thanks to an X-SUBA sponsorship, but the other child in school struggles to attend due to the financial situation. Emma and Bartho are at the Learning Center. They’re getting the volunteer education that they can while their mother hopes for either a sponsorship for them, or to save enough money to send them herself.
Fifteen dollars a semester doesn’t seem like a lot to the rest of us, so what if we wanted to help out with their education? That’s why X-SUBA started a sponsorship program for deserving kids.
They don’t just accept anyone to this program, and they don’t “pay and forget” either. There is a rigorous screening process, the children must meet with the program coordinator every few weeks, have their parents check their homework, and actually attend classes.
Children who have participated in the Learning Center often do very well once they find sponsors for school. Almost all of them are in the top third of their classes.
I had the pleasure of meeting one such young man, Moses, who was a product of X-SUBA’s Learning Center. He found a sponsorship to attend primary school and is now ranked #1 of 62 in his class.
There’s also Sulama, a bright young girl whose father burns trash piles for a living and whose mother makes hand brooms. Sulama helped her mother make these brooms until she received a primary school sponsorship through X-SUBA. She did so well that the sponsorship was continued into secondary school (high school) and she’ll start soon. While waiting she’s participating in X-SUBA’s Homework Club, where she leads tutoring sessions with other students.
X-SUBA also has two adolescents already in secondary school, which is twice as expensive as primary school. They will be graduating soon and head off to university.
ICT – Information Computer Technology
X-SUBA’s newest addition is their Information Computer Technology (ICT) Center. These seven computers were recently donated by a foreign donor. Uganda is advancing into the computer age, and those without these skills will soon be unemployable, as some in the older generation are finding out now.
And due to their commitment to the community, X-SUBA also opens their computer center to everyone else. They offer classes and times where entrepreneurs can create Facebook pages or design marketing graphics. These tools did not exist in Walukuba previously.
The ICT Center has a problem staying open though, and it’s not necessarily due to staffing. During my two weeks in Walukuba, X-SUBA’s offices only had electrical power for the first few days. This happens every so often, and when it does, there is a battery-powered laptop available for limited use.
You Can Help
I’m back from Uganda now and going through the thousands of photos I took during the trip, and captioning them all with the notes that I took.
The fundraiser has covered my costs, but X-SUBA is still struggling financially. You can help out by visiting my fundraising page, which is still open, to benefit X-SUBA.