￼One of the primary goals of our Computer Training Center in Uganda is to provide a helping hand to those that are struggling by providing marketable information technology job skills. As you know, we aim to provide these services free of charge as often as we can as long as we have donors supporting the CTC’s rent, utilities and salaries. In the past it’s been helpful to have donors willing to support the CTC for months or a year at a time (!), but right now, the CTC is struggling financially and we are seeking donors to support it.
But our work at the CTC will continue as long as we can keep the doors open, and this story is a great example of why we work so hard to keep the doors open.
By providing IT job skills, we offer an extremely valuable service to those that are struggling to find jobs or improve their prospects to get better jobs. In many cases, the income from a single computer-related job can go to support a dozen extended family members, paying for food, medical care and school fees. In nearly every case, the educated worker only keeps a small fraction of his or her income.
However, there is another aspect of the training center that is close to our hearts and that lies in simply providing hope for the hopeless. Because information technology is such a rare discipline here, reserved only for the rich or fortunate, basic computer lessons can be a real encouragement to those that are struggling to get by, encouraging them and providing direction and hope.
Recently, our staff has been actively seeking out candidates for free computer training courses.
Joseph Abapiwano is pretty much a “normal” seventeen-year-old except for the fact that for the past four years, he has been living on the streets.
Joseph says that he grew up with his grandmother and grandfather and has never seen or known biological father and mother. He was born in Nawangoma village, Kamuli district and attended school for a while but he dropped out in primary seven.
As an orphan with no real prospects, Joseph was placed in Kisobboka children home in Jinja town. Through a scholarship at the school, he was taken back to school to repeat primary seven but by the time he finished that year of schooling, he was too old to stay at the home, so he was sent back to the village.
Joseph had a very hard life in the village and without any prospects or family support, he says he “escaped the village”, and without any other real options, chose to return to street life as a “money beggar”.
Our staff knew of Joseph as one of the group of street kids that is often seen on the streets around the training center. They reached out to him and his close group of friends to see if they would be interested in computer training classes. Joseph and his companions were eager to join.
Joseph says that he is, “thankful Hackers for Charity for the heart of providing him free computer training courses” and he wants to become a photo editor and he’s interested in video production. He also says he is “very tired of the street life”.
This story reminds me of why I started Hackers For Charity in the first place. Ugandan children face daily struggles, many of which I, and my friends from the “developed world” will never fully understand. Often times, they have known abject poverty, with hunger and desperation a part of everyday life. It’s hard to have hope under those circumstances. But in most cases, many Ugandan children have family, either immediate or extended, that can support and provide for them in some way. This is not the case for street kids, and they lead extremely difficult lives. It’s a privilege to be able to serve them in some way.
As technologists, we will never be in “the business” of directly supporting children. There are many organizations with years of experience that are equipped to do this. But we can provide hope for a future, excitement, “skillz”, and good, old-fashioned (and highly educational) fun that frankly could change the course of their lives.
Our regular followers know that we have struggled recently with staff “reductions” and frankly we have been discouraged by many disappointments, but stories like this remind me that the work we’re doing together is extremely valuable and I’m privileged to play a small part in that.
For those that are interested in helping out directly, we are seeking donors to help us keep the training center open. It costs us about $950 to run the center each and every month. This includes salaries ($405), security guard ($192), utilities ($50), alarm and security response service ($73) and rent ($228). Yearly, we pay $11,400 to keep the doors of the CTC open. Since we opened in 2009, we have relied on the generosity of donors to make this happen.