Meet Joel

Kankanyero’s story is proof that we need to reach out to Ugandan kids and help them, not only because they need the educational support, but also because they are the future of Uganda and will spread the hope for the rest of the country.

Kankanyero is one of the Ugandan kids who Project Have Hope has helped. He is from the North of Uganda. Before Project Have Hope reached out to him, he could barely survive at home, since his parents needed to work and there were other distractions. Project Have Hope changed his life. At the age of nine, he started to study in a boarding school and has made good use of his education. He said in an interview, “there is always enough time for you to read books at school. You are always free form family problems.” This opportunity gave him a new perspective on life. He can “access different people from different backgrounds like from the north meeting people from the East, West and South.” Education has had a huge impact on him. His focus now is not only himself, but also on what he can do to contribute to his country.

Kankanyero is grateful to PHH, and he tries his best to excel at school. His actions prove that educational support can work well to help African countries that suffer from poverty and war to rebuild their society. At school, Kankanyero tries to make best use of every minute of his time reading and doing homework. In addition, he sets a high standard for himself and is learning to be independent and responsible. He makes his own schedule and sticks to it strictly. As a result, he did very well in his exams in 2011. He is determined to have a career in Medical service, as he “wants to help people who are poor and can not afford health care.”



A Sponsor's Point of View

Here is a post from our guest blogger, Eva Quaranta who has been sponsoring three children through our program since 2010.

For the past seven years, I have had the unique opportunity to sponsor children from the Acholi Quarter so they can attend school. This opportunity was made possible through Project Have Hope.

Along with sponsoring children for school came the chance to get to know them and their families. I love the photographs and drawings I receive from the children, but I especially love the letters! From those letters I learn not only about their school, but about their families, recreational activities and, most of all, how much it means to these children to be able to attend school. They find themselves in a safe environment, away from working in the stone quarry.

They love their schools, but they really love the activities in which they are engaged. They are playing team sports and learning to work with other children. They are learning that reading is fun!

Their grades in some cases are only fair, but that is only part of their school adventure. In most cases, these children are the first in their families to attend school. Their parents, who understand the importance of education, have little or none themselves. They encourage their children academically but realistically  can give them little, if any help, with their studies.

They might not all be academic scholars, but I believe that these children will have a better life because they have had the opportunity to go to school and learned at the very least the fundamentals of reading, writing and math.

I am grateful to PHH that I have had this opportunity to make a difference in the lives of these children.

Uganda's School System

The education system in Uganda is understandably much different than what we have in the United States. It is based off of the British system of education, as Uganda was a British colony until its independence in 1962. The national language of Uganda, and the language of education, is English. However, many people also use their own tribal language, either in the Bantu, Nilotic, or Central Sudanic language family. Swahili was also approved as the second national language, but it’s more often used in the north, as well as with the military.

The first schooling that children are enrolled in is “baby class,” which is essentially nursery school. Children attend from ages three to six.

After completion of baby class, students enroll in primary school around age five or six. They are in primary school for seven years (Primary 1—Primary 7). At the end of the seven years, the students take their first national exam, the Primary Leaving Examinations, or PLE.

After P1-P7, the student moves on to secondary school, which lasts for six years. The first four years, S1-S4, are known as the “O-level.” At the end of S-4, students sit for the Uganda Certificate of Education, the second national exam.

If students pass their O-levels, they may go on to S-5 and S-6 and sit for the Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education, or A-levels.

Students who pass their A-levels may choose to attend university or other institutions which award certificates and diplomas. Many wealthier parents choose to send their children overseas for college. Popular universities in Uganda include Makerere University, Mbarara University of Science & Technology, Uganda Christian University, Kampala International University, and Kyambogo University.

In primary and secondary schools, students can either go to day school or boarding school. Most of the students sponsored by Project Have Hope attend boarding school, which they generally prefer to day school as it gives them their own space to concentrate on their studies, distraction-free.


In addition, when a child lives at school, they are not left with the struggle of commuting, which is often an obstacle for many students across Uganda. One of our students, Oketa Jacob says “I think it is better to go to boarding school than day school because of weather changes, road accidents, [etc.]. [It is easier to concentrate] at school rather than home, where power sometimes goes off and reading can be a problem.” Another student, Obiya Solomon, says that he likes boarding school because there is more discipline there than at home, so he can become a better student.

A Semester Abroad in Rwanda

 Last semester, I was fortunate enough to spend four months studying abroad in Rwanda – Uganda’s neighbor to the south. While abroad, I was able to spend a few weeks in the part of northern Uganda where the Acholi were devestated by the conflict caused by Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The LRA is infamous for its abduction of children and violence against civilians, specifically women and children. Over 30,000 children as young as 9 years old have been abducted and forced to become murderous child soldiers or sex slaves. During my time there, it was very clear that the Acholi people are still recovering from decades of war and forced displacement.

Being in northern Uganda where so much violence took place was an extremely powerful experience. I was able to actually speak with a Ugandan who tried to begin peace processes in person with Joseph Kony deep in the jungles of the Democratic Republic of Congo. I also visited a former internally displaced persons (IDP) camp right outside of Gulu, Uganda. There, I met former refugees and was able to talk to them about their experiences during their 10 years of living in these camps. It was horrific to hear these first hand accounts. The IDP camps in Northern Uganda during the conflict were more deadly than the conflict itself. Life in the camp was extraordinarily hard. Huts were only a meter apart from each other (with about 50,000 people living in a very small area), disease was rampant, and the only food that was available was from international aid agencies. In addition, during the night, the LRA would raid these camps, taking food, supplies, and children that would be forced into war. I cannot even begin to imagine what that must have been like.

Despite the clear scars of war that were still apparent, one theme that was very clear was hope and determination. Gulu, a town that was especially hard-hit by the violence, is now a bustling city complete with restaurants, clothing stores, and a large open-air market. As you walk through the streets, it can be easy to forget that a mere 12 years ago there was horror and danger around every corner. All of the Ugandans I was able to talk to in Gulu were vocally hopeful about the future of the Acholi people. There are countless organizations, international and domestic, in the North that are aimed at rebuilding this community. The determination of so many Acholi people that I met to better not only their lives, but also the lives of those around them was absolutely remarkable. This gives me hope. This makes me believe that although the number of problems in the world is daunting, there is still faith one can have in humanity.



Blog Post 1

Announcing the coming hope campaign.