I am on Day 296 of 365 Days of giving and it amazes me more each day the every day heroes that are reaching out all over the world to create a positive impact. I get to meet people through You Tube, Twitter and Facebook that I would never have met other wise. Since I am new to all the social media outlets many of my friends ask me if it’s strange to have exchanges with strangers but what I have come to discover are the wonderful things about social media. You get to meet people like minded people from all all over the world and you have the opportunity to build your own “tribe.” A village of people with a similar goal and mission. Mine happens to be making the world a better place and my new “tribe” of social media friends are doing just that – changing the world.
I met my guest today via Facebook. Anthony is a remarkable man that has putting “giving” as his priority in life and combines it as a career in Africa. Anthony’s story is unique as he has come from a family that includes 25 children in a country where the challenges of the people run deep. If I can give someone a voice that may not always get heard in North America I am happy to make it my give of the day.
Give 296: Day 296 by Anthony Kalulu
My work as a volunteer and giver dates back to the time I completed my Teacher Education and has since been two-faceted:
1) Social Inclusion
2) Environmental Conservation
I had a pitted childhood as my late Dad (a polygamist with over 25 children) stopped paying my tuition in my first year of secondary education. My mother, a non-working class poor woman who herself never went to school at all, started distilling alcohol as an income source and managed to take me through the 4-year Secondary Education, a tumultuous year during which Dad violently sent away Mum, all my maternal siblings (all 5 of them girls) and myself from home. Mum had bought a plot of land in the same village a year back; this is where we ended up until today.
At our new home, Mummy talked to a man who took me to work at a Maize Mill in Uganda’s Capital [Kampala]. I was a small boy and could not lift maize flour bags of 100 – 130kgs. I quit in two days. I did not want to return to the village either—as Dad was vocally sarcastic of my failures. I wandered the City’s streets for work at Car Washing Places and Construction sites, and ended up working at a Motorcycle garage.
When I started earning my own money at the Motorcycle repair shop, I shed off some of the home trauma I had sustained for 19 years. In the same year, the government introduced free teacher education. Upon course completion, I wanted to be a person who changes lives for others, so that I could see my own abused childhood from the other side of the line. When I began teaching I started a ‘Social Inclusion/Inclusive Education’ advocacy organization, the “Endowment of Special Education Promotion and Advocacy Foundation” (ESEPAF).
As a teacher, my initial idea was about main streaming the educational opportunities of children seen as being physically disabled. I spoke on the premise of “special education”—but, in retrospect to what I had personally gone through as a child even as I wasn’t disabled—my ultimate vision was that of “social inclusion” for children of all backgrounds and abilities. ESEPAF’s goal is that of promoting Inclusive basic education and social inclusion by involving schools and communities in developing inclusive policies and practices.
Giving to ALL children to be in school:
I knew schools hosted a whole heterogeneous child population who were subject to a myriad of home and school-based factors that leave them susceptible to school dropout. As I couldn’t help individual children, I needed a movement that engages everybody—school children, teachers and parents—in building communities in which every child is supported.
My personal GIVING to children (as a teacher):
I started my teaching career at Mutekanga Memorial Primary School. It is a public school providing free education to all school-age children. As a rural school located in a purely subsistence farming village, the school mostly hosts children from very poor households, many of them staying with their grandparents—often as orphans. Nearly a quarter of the school population is HIV/AIDS-orphaned children, supported with scholastic materials from Plan International-Uganda.
The best I can personally do and what I have done for the kids at this school is GIVING them inspiration and a feeling of being loved by adults. These are kids coming from very poor households. I bought a digital camera as a unique way to capture their school experiences. I trained children of all ages on how to use it and on a daily basis I let them take snapshots of themselves seated with their peers and teachers. They always talk about it when they go back home and indeed this thing alone has brought many new pupils to join our school. Namikisa Resty, the 10-year old Grade 5 girl who turned out to be the most skilled in photography, the school became her newfound loving home. She is an orphan; her Daddy died of AIDS and her mother also passed away last year. The camera gave her a love for school.
One of the other ways I have given back is by helping kids acquire new school uniforms from my little money. For some it was their first school uniform in years in school.
My giving is now evolving as I have found a need in Uganda that is so great. I am now in the process of transitioning from my teaching career to fully engage with the non-profit “Organic Perspectives” (also started by myself) on its mission of
1) Helping smallholder farmers in Uganda’s drastically deforested countryside to regenerate forests
2) Find an alternative household energy solution
3) Enhance their income levels through sustainable and economically viable agriculture
All my time, commitment and giving moving forward will be Organic Perspectives’ work. You can click through to read about my newest project Organic Perspectives. Giving never stops it is a life journey that we can all pursue. (Please note that as this website is hosted by aUKpartner, we are not able to post project updates on it. The information was our initial ideas of 2007, yet the work we are doing now has greatly evolved since.)