Bududa Learning Center
Sheila Havard, Bududa Volunteer from Canada.
Set in the lush
volcanic foothills of Mount Elgon on Uganda’s
eastern border is Bududa Learning Center (BLC), an African Great Lakes
Initiative project that has made its mark on the sprawling, rural, mountainous
Bududa District community. Bududa Learning Center provides a triple-pronged
program addressing the issues of unemployment and children orphaned by
AIDS, landslides, and disease. The three components are the Bududa Vocational
Institute, the Children of Peace program (see page 19), and Women’s
Bududa Vocational Institute (BVI)
From 2003 to 2006, Western and Ugandan volunteers worked side by side at summer
work camps building a vocational school in the rural Bududa District. At
the end of 2007 the school moved to a new site, two miles from the village
center. A Philadelphia Friend, Barbara Wybar, moved to Bududa and took charge
of the project. It is thanks to her persistence and determination that Bududa
Learning Center with its Bududa Vocational Institute has flourished. From
the one original classroom block a whole compound sprang up, comprising a
kitchen and storehouse, a bricklaying and carpentry shelter, latrines, and
a guesthouse. Programs were developed for four subject, bricklaying and concrete
practice, tailoring, computer skills and nursery teacher training. Students
flocked to register! By February 2008 there were thirty-four students. In
November 2011 for the first time, four students took national exams at the
highest level, the craft exam, and eight others took the Uganda National
Examinations Board exams at the junior level in brick laying and concrete
practice, carpentry and tailoring. Most importantly, graduates generally
find jobs in their field.
It is widely agreed in development circles that improving the fortunes of women
has beneficial effects on the whole of a society. The Women’s Microfinance
Initiative aims to help women become more independent. Head administrator,
Betty Bigala, started recruiting industrious women for this loan program
in 2010 when Bethesda, Maryland-based Women’s Microfinance Initiative
(WMI) launched a BLC chapter. Forty women were provided with loans, up to
the value of $150 each, and trained in marketing and accounting. Now the
loan recipients are busy selling produce and staples. Since they have paid
back their original loans and have received further loans, they have paved
the way for a third group of twenty women who received their first loans
in February 2012.
Thanks to a major fundraising drive, BLC has expanded and at the beginning
of 2012 has moved to new quarters in the center of the village of Bududa.
The new site will belong to BLC, whereas the former one was rented. This “downtown” location
will boost visibility, provide greater convenience for teachers and students,
and be a better catchment area for new students. No longer will it be necessary
for the Children of Peace orphans to scramble into the back of a rented truck
every week for the trip to and from Saturday School. A major asset will be
electricity to run computers and sewing machines. In addition, boarding girls
will be safer as they can be housed on site. The district authorities have
been most supportive and encouraging during this major change. Additional
land adjacent to the new site may be available from the district should BLC
need to expand in the future.
Volunteers make a big difference in every way?by their financial contributions,
their enthusiasm and their unique skills. By the end of 2011, the volunteer
program had hosted more than fifty-five volunteers from North American, Canada
and England. They have brought countless riches to Bududa Learning Center:
girl’s dresses sewn by the Quakers of Coldstream, Ontario; an array
of musical instruments brought over from New Jersey by Scott Douglas; medical
supplies collected by eager supporters in the West, etc. Each volunteer also
makes a financial contribution. Skills contributed have ranged from painting
a map of Uganda on the wall for children who had never seen their country
depicted in print, so scanty are public school learning materials, to a school
photography trip on which each orphan was furnished a camera to take photos.
Volunteers love their experience so much that some come back year after year.
Bududa Learning Center intends to keep hosting volunteers for their skills
and fresh ideas.
Sponsors and Donors
Sponsors and donors are the heart and soul of the Bududa Learning Center organization.
These are truly the people who put the staff’s good intentions into
action and encourage Children of Peace orphans and Bududa Vocational Institute
students to dream big. Sponsors “adopt” a child by making an
annual donation while donors give funds for operations and capital improvements.
Thanks to sponsors and donors in the United States, Canada and the UK, Bududa
Learning Center has been able to build a new school in the center of the
Bududa District where the organization can connect to the electrical grid
and have a true school campus. Bududa Learning Center looks forward with
hope to receiving donations to acquire the adjacent plot of land for a boys’ hostel,
football field, library and perhaps a small plot of land for growing food
to help feed the students. To all who have supported Bududa Learning Center
in the past and to those who will lend support in the future, we thank you
for giving Bududa Learning Center hope for the future.
abreast of new developments at Bududa Learning Center, check out its
website by clicking