St. Stephen Children's Centre
In 2005, using the money he was given through his fellowship in the Netherlands, Ben acquired some land in Makondo village and began building St. Stephen Children's Centre. Children and youth collected and carried each individual brick in while volunteers in the community helped to construct the first building. Fundraising from partners in Canada helped to build a second nursery school building, and add latrines, doors, windows and solar electricity, which included employment for and buying of materials from local villagers. Now we are fundraising to complete construction of the school, including floors and finished walls, and add desks and furniture to all the classrooms.
Belief in oneself is one of the most important bricks
in building any successful venture - Lydia M. Child
At our centre we provide:
• Nursery and Primary education for 350 students, including academics and other important skills, such as agriculture, computers, community service, health, arts, sports, and public speaking.
• Vocational training and work opportunities for older youth and adults in agriculture, livestock rearing, carpentry and joinery, welding and fabrications, brick laying and concrete, motorcycle mechanics, tailoring and sewing, hair styling and beautification, and craft making.
• Training in computers and money management and involvement in our cooperative savings program.
• Health education and training including HIV/AIDS prevention, water, hygiene and sanitation, food security, and nutrition
• Sponsorship of vulnerable children, including school fees & materials, food, health care, and other basic needs.
• Sponsorship of vulnerable adults, including health care, basic necessities, and emotional support.
• Sponsorship of youth for vocational training.
Education is the most powerful tool to change the world - Nelson Mandela
In addition to providing for children's survival and education needs, we strive to give them cultural, artistic, and recreational experiences for a more balanced, holistic life. These include teaching and participation in singing, dance, drumming, debating/public speaking, craft-making, sports, and other activities. Our choir has even received top honors in our district and performs at many community events. These opportunities provide important skills and training for supplemental income and teach our children about the importance of expression, joy, goal-setting, fun, innovation, and creativity, which are cornerstones to change, success, and happiness.
We also strive to teach our students about compassion, generosity, gratitude, and kindness by involving them in our community and in our projects, such as helping to clean the village trading centre and donating and bringing food and supplies to those in need in our community as well as in northern Uganda where civil war is ongoing. Together we improve not just the quality of life of our students, but model and provide opportunities for them to give back and improve the quality of life of others. They are the next generation that will continue what we have started.
There are two lasting bequests we can give our children.
One is roots. The other is wings - Hodding Carter
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Makondo, Uganda, Africa