Access To Electricity Changes An African Village

Charles in amazement of the first light bulbs at The Alwa Foundation

Charles in amazement of the first light bulbs at The Alwa Foundation

When we first had the vision of creating the first library in our remote village of Alwa, Uganda, we dared to dream that one day we would have the privilege of having electricity. Through it all, we held on and kept believing that marginalized children and youth in Alwa would someday have access to adequate educational resources, that they will have room to connect to the outside world through not only books, but technology. Our twelve-year vision has finally come to fruition. Thanks to the generous donations of friends and family, Alwa Foundation was able to raise over $12,000. This has enabled us to purchase and install high-quality solar panels that will offer us the capacity to open one of the first computer laboratories in the village of Alwa. 

            The onset of darkness will no longer mean an inability to study for students utilizing the educational resources and tutoring services of The Foundation. Teachers now have an extra three hours a day to grade papers and help the students they bring to the library. Alwa Foundation can now embark on its vision to bridge the computer literacy gap through the establishment of one of the first computer laboratory that will provide services to hundreds of children, youth and adults. Our goal is to provide the residents of Alwa with exposure to information technology and enhance their adaptation to a world that is becoming more and more information technology oriented. Once we start offering printing amenities, residents in Alwa and neighboring villages will also no longer have to travel, on average, over 30 miles simply to access printing services. We at the Alwa Foundation are forever thankful and grateful for the generosity of all our friends, family and supporters. We would not have been able to accomplish these mile stones without your continual encouragement and support. Thank you.

 PS: Within the next 6 months we will interview patrons of The Alwa Foundation and share with you their stories about their experiences regarding having access to electricity. Please stay tuned. 

 

Lekea Itero (Co-Founder)

 

Bringing Computers to Alwa Village

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If you are reading this, you likely have a personal computer or have relatively easy access to one. Access to a computer and being computer literate gives most of us advantages that we take for granted. Information is only a finger tip away. Currently for millions of children, youth and adults in developing countries, being computer illiterate denies millions upward mobility. As technology advances, the ability to read, write and do arithmetic is no longer sufficient. Computer literacy is becoming a mandatory skill in higher education and most work settings. Alwa Foundation currently has two laptops on site. One laptop is lent every three years to a student from Alwa who has been accepted to University. Our first student just graduated last year. This laptop will be given to the next student accepted to University. Alwa Foundation was awarded 3 PC and 2 Mac desktops by San Francisco State University this year.  We have also received a generous donation from a colleague of two additional laptops, thus bringing our total to eight computers.

Our vision is not only to bridge the literacy gap one child at a time, but to also help bridge the computer illiteracy gap. We hope to start a computer literacy program by the end of this year. Alwa Foundation hopes to serve over a thousand children, youth and adults. Our current challenge is we lack a reliable and sufficient source of electricity to power the computers. We will be starting a GoFund Me for Solar Panels by the end of April, 2019 to help make our vision of starting our first computer lab a reality.  I hope you will join us in our efforts and share our story.  Thank you all for the continuous support you have given us all this years.  

Little Ruth at the Well

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It’s almost a year since we drilled a well within the vicinity of Alwa Foundation, thanks to the generous support of The Los Gatos Presbyterian Church, family and friends. For the hundreds of children like Ruth, access to clean water in a safe environment means that she is able to spend an average of two hours studying. Having clean water also means we are able to provide clean sanitation. Girls having their periods have access to private clean bathrooms to take showers. Access to water has lessened their day to day burdens. Girls can take a bath, fetch water to take home, thus saving them several hours of having to walk three to six miles back and forth simply to have sufficient water to take a bath and provide for the large house hold. The gender labor roles where women and girls are forced to spend sixty percent of their day in search of water appears to have been addressed. Access to clean water further supports our mission statement of bridging the literacy gap one child at a time, because without access to the basic human needs such as clean water, how are children expected to learn?

A Well For My Village

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What if you had to walk three miles for water? Most of us in the USA only need to walk a few steps within the protection of our homes and clean water magically flows from the faucets. The same is, however, not true for millions around the world. 

My village of Alwa, in Uganda is no exception.  A day in the life of a girl or woman in Alwa is spent walking three miles one way to fetch water. On a good day, the water is not visibly filthy. However when it rains, all the debris and fecal matter gets washed into the open water source. To compound the problem, the water source is also shared with livestock, thus a breeding ground for water borne diseases. 

    Granted there are few wells, but these are either really far away, tend to be over crowded or usually require a fee, which most families cannot afford. The average income per household is a dollar a day. If you had only a dollar and had to spend it on water or medicine where would you spend it? 

The fact that girls are forced to travel three or more miles in search of water is made worse by the risk of sexual harassments and assault.  Hours spent walking to fetch water, also means less or no time to study, yet girls are expected to do well in school.  

Alwa Foundation will drill a well to help support girl’s access to clean water and also give them an extra two to three hours to have time to study. By having a well at our learning center, girls can access tutorial services, have a quiet, safe, and supportive environment to study and still be able to take clean water home to their families. 

Empowering a people doesn’t take millions of dollars, but simply supporting them with the basics. Every one is worthy of access to clean, safe water. Please play a part in empowering the girls of Alwa. Thank you for your support.

Lekea Itero (Co-founder)

Light at the end of the tunnel

Students utilizing recently acquired study guides for the Primary School National Examinations.

Students utilizing recently acquired study guides for the Primary School National Examinations.

I can still remember the first time I was introduced to a library. It was in the affluent country of Botswana, in Southern African. The application for my precious library card took three weeks. I had to get a background check and have two references from the community before I had the privilege of being given permission to access a plethora of books. 

I can recall reading Nancy Drew Mystery Stories and imagining myself solving all those cases. I would then think of the children and youth in my village with no access to libraries, let alone simple educational resources and imagine someday helping to create a place where they could have such an oasis. Through the generous donations of friends, family and The Presbyterian Church of Los Gatos, The Alwa Foundation is now opened to the residents of Alwa and surrounding villages. We have also partnered with schools in Alwa and offering tutorial classes to prepare primary school students for the national examinations issued annually in November. 

Mr. Yuventine, a teacher and director of Yujane Primary School and his students wanted to express their thanks and excitement to all of you who make this possible. In his words, Mr. Yuventine stated,

“I can see the excitement my children now have” when referring to their daily use of the learning center and their study guides.

The Queen Visits Alwa Village

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Our village of Alwa rarely sees a member of Parliament(MP), thus when our MP Maria GorettiAjilo Elogu honored our village with her presence, you would think the queen of England had paid Uganda a visit

To the people of Alwa, Ms. Ajilo’s presence goes against our decades of conditioning where politicians only make very brief appears during election campaigns, vanish for five or so years, only to make another brief appearance during another election campaign. Ms. Ajilo made time to talk about the literacy gap in Alwa, advocate for the education of girls and for the importance of planting trees. Her presence inspired women and girls and gave a positive reinforcement that regardless of our cultural upbringing, being born female does not make one a second-class citizen. The Alwa Foundation is thankful and honored that Ms. Ajilo made this exceptional visit in support of our mission to bridge the literacy gap one child at a time and official opening our new learning center. 

Books For Alwa

Looking at the photos of cheerful children from my village of Alwa, Uganda, reminds me constantly of the privileges I take for granted. When I first returned to the village of Alwa in the fall of 2012, I found these children sitting under a tree, making every effort to concentrate on the lesson of the day. A teacher stood in front of a black board writing something down, that I could barely see from the vantage point I stood at. No one, not even the teacher, had a text book in front of them. I stood there wondering how anyone could learn, let alone concentrate under these conditions. A cow passes by and I find myself distracted. Residents of Alwa continuously shuffle through and I find myself even more distracted.  “Goodness! How can anyone, let alone children, excel in such circumstances?”   I find myself wondering. I reflect back to my life in Seattle, my condo, a few minutes walk from the downtown library, where I have the privilege and access to any book or educational material my heart desires, in addition to being protected from the weather elements and having the luxury to expand my mind with little to no distraction. A bell rings and I am brought back to the realities of life in my village, children sitting under trees, doing their best to learn.  I then came to a conclusion, advocate to bridge the literature gap one child at a time. Thus Alwa Foundation’s dedication to supporting teachers and students with access to study guides and literature material.   Our current goal is to purchase 200 text books, covering the following subjects: English, math, science and social studies. Each text book is estimated at $10. Your support and donations truly make a difference. 100% of all donations go directly to the purchase of text books. Empower the children and youth in our village by donating towards a text book and or sharing this link.    With gratitude and thanks  Lekea Itero (Co-Founder)

Looking at the photos of cheerful children from my village of Alwa, Uganda, reminds me constantly of the privileges I take for granted. When I first returned to the village of Alwa in the fall of 2012, I found these children sitting under a tree, making every effort to concentrate on the lesson of the day. A teacher stood in front of a black board writing something down, that I could barely see from the vantage point I stood at. No one, not even the teacher, had a text book in front of them. I stood there wondering how anyone could learn, let alone concentrate under these conditions. A cow passes by and I find myself distracted. Residents of Alwa continuously shuffle through and I find myself even more distracted.  “Goodness! How can anyone, let alone children, excel in such circumstances?” 

I find myself wondering. I reflect back to my life in Seattle, my condo, a few minutes walk from the downtown library, where I have the privilege and access to any book or educational material my heart desires, in addition to being protected from the weather elements and having the luxury to expand my mind with little to no distraction. A bell rings and I am brought back to the realities of life in my village, children sitting under trees, doing their best to learn.

I then came to a conclusion, advocate to bridge the literature gap one child at a time. Thus Alwa Foundation’s dedication to supporting teachers and students with access to study guides and literature material. 

Our current goal is to purchase 200 text books, covering the following subjects: English, math, science and social studies. Each text book is estimated at $10. Your support and donations truly make a difference. 100% of all donations go directly to the purchase of text books. Empower the children and youth in our village by donating towards a text book and or sharing this link.  

With gratitude and thanks

Lekea Itero (Co-Founder)

Our New Building

Our new building that will be serving thousands of students.

Our new building that will be serving thousands of students.

One of our study rooms.

One of our study rooms.

It’s said “Rome was not built in a day.” neither was the Taj Mahal and they both still stand as
reminders of the power of patience, focus and persistence. Our beautiful learning Center that will
be opening doors to thousands of students this September 2017, may not be Rome or the Taj
Mahal, but it represents the hopes and inspiration of a village that did no have access to literature
and educational resources. The rich, radiant colors of orange and whites are welcoming beacons
of hope, assuring all who come that they will be welcomed as they are.  We are a community dedicated to bridging the literature gap one child at a time. The children, youth and adults in Alwa may not have the privilege and luxury to physically leave and explore other worlds. Coming to the learning center and reading books gives them liberty to travel to places they have never known of, to sit and get mentored by authors long dead, whose teachings and wisdom still permeate time and remind us that no one knows what each of us can do, given support. We started off ten years ago, one brick at a time, a journey that tested our faith. On hind sight, this long, long Voyage stands as testimony to our faith, persistence and dedication to the our village. I must however state that this journey would not have been possible without the dedication of all our volunteers, the donations from friends, family, colleagues and The Presbyterian Church of Los Gatos. The Presbyterian Church made it possible for us to secure approximately fifty beautifully hand made chairs and ten tables. Thank you. Our next phase in our journey to bridge the literature gap one child at a time will entail securing funding to purchase approximately 200 text books covering the following subjects namely: English,Math, Science and Social Studies. Each text book is estimated at $10. Your support and donations truly make a difference. As Horace Mann, the founding president of Antioch University stated, “Every addition to true knowledge is an addition to human power.” Empower the children and youth in our village by donating to purchase a text book or share this blog.

Can You Hear Me?

He spoke in the calm manner he usually speaks, but this time something seemed different. He says the situation in the Alwa is getting worse and worse.

“The crops have failed,” he says.

There is a lot he says in those few words. I can hear his breath on the phone.

“The crops have failed.” “The crops have failed,” keeps echoing in my mind.

I am grateful to sit in the comfort of my condo in lovely Seattle, my fridge only a few steps away filled with fresh vegetables, fruits and more. I only need to go out to a grocery store should I change my mind and want something else.

The village of Alwa, like any rural area in Africa, relies on the land, my people still farm like their forefathers did, but things have changed, the abundance of trees we once had are long gone, we cut them up for firewood, and did not foresee the effects it would have on climate change. The rains are unreliable, we face another drought.

“A virus has destroyed the cassava.” he continues.

I don’t know what to say, but I know I cannot simply sit here in my comfortable condo, and count my blessings. I know that I can not hope that things will get better. So I assure him that I will send funds, I then get on Facebook and send a post. Donations begin to trickle in. I am thankful and grateful, but through all this, I know I will have to do more. Can you hear me? I hear the call of my people and I know I am here for a reason. I am here to help my village of Alwa.

 

Lekea Itero (Co-founder)

Giving Girls A Voice

Please Journey with me to Alwa, a small village in Uganda, that not even many Ugandans may have heard of. I was brought up in this village, with the privilege of attaining an education that most girls are continually denied. Which brings me to the story of a young girl named Brenda. Brenda comes from a family of eight children, and being the fourth child and the eldest female child carries a lot of responsibility. Her father passed away from health complications related to HIV/AIDS in 2007, leaving Brenda, her siblings and mother who battles daily with chronic illnesses related to HIV/AIDS. 

 

When I first met Brenda, I had been called to Teete Primary School to encourage and motivate the students about to take their primary school examinations. These exams would determine whether they go on to secondary school. In America this would be the equivalent to taking examinations to qualify one to go to high school. Brenda happened to attend school in Teete. Something about Brenda reminded me of my self when I was a young girl. A girl going to school midst a culture that continually reminded me that as a girl, I was a second class citizen and that I did not deserve an education. If it was not for my beloved father, and his going against his culture, when it came to the education of girls, I would not  have been one of the first women in my village to have gone to a university.  Thus as I spoke to the students, more so to the few girls in the classroom, I promised them  all, that if they did well, I would pay for their secondary school tuition.

Play forward, Brenda and another girl by the name of Asiyo passed their examination with flying colors. Asiyo was fortunate enough to have a brother who was working and capable of paying for her continuing education. For Brenda, this was the end of the road for her. It appeared that the odds were against her. She was the eldest girl in her family, at the tender age of thirteen,she was considered ready for marriage and to make the matter worse, her brother had brought himself a wife, could not afford the dowery.  And poor Brenda was about to be forced into a marriage to help provide the dowery for her brother to have himself a wife. 

 

On discovering Brenda’s plight, I felt it my responsibility to advocate for Brenda, I contacted the diocese and attained a scholarship for Brenda to continue with her secondary school education and utilized funds from the Alwa Learning Center to contribute towards Brenda’s basic needs. Brenda’s mother was also offered a micro loan to help start a small business of her own, that would help her support her family. 

 

Brenda, continues with her education, her younger sister, Fiona, was however not as fortunate. When she failed her primary school examinations, she was forced into marriage. Brenda has three younger sisters in need of school tuition and the Alwa Learning Center’s vision is to establish a scholarship fund to help support more girls like Brenda, attend further education, or embark in small sustainable business that would empower them and minimize the likelihood of young girls been forced into marriages.

 

There are hundreds of Brendas in my village of Alwa, facing the same fate. Alwa Learning Center might be the only beacon of hope for these girls. Alwa Learning Center’s vision is to empower children through literature, but more so to empower girls.  We believe that the success of families, communities and the village of Alwa rests in the empowerment of girls and women. 

 

Your contributions make a long lasting impact that you may not imagine. Please support us in anyway you can and share our website.

 

Thank you

 

Mary Akiyo

Co-founder Alwa Learning Center