Uganda school to get power thanks to Sequim donors

After years in the dark, the children of St. Charles Kyamula Primary School in Masaka, Uganda, finally will experience electricity.

With the help of individuals, families and businesses in the Sequim community, the Uganda School Fund has raised enough money to start its project in Africa. Volunteers will begin breaking ground to extend power lines to the St. Charles School sometime in June or July.

St. Charles Kyamula Primary School is a rural elementary school of 400 children in Masaka, Uganda. It's 20 miles from the main town and about five miles from the only paved road in the region.

The power line stops just three miles from the school.

In the past 15 years, not one child has scored an "A" on a national exam because no quality teachers will teach at a school without electricity or running water, according to the Rev. Henry Mulindwa, a Uganda native and the priest at St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church in Sequim.

Mulindwa left Sequim for Uganda last week to oversee the project and deliver the nearly $28,000 in donations raised so far.

The Uganda School Fund's next fundraiser is Thursday. A group of people who traveled to Uganda earlier this year will share their experiences.

The story so far

In Uganda, children literally walk six or more miles to school with no shoes and nothing to eat for the day.

Students leave early in the morning and get home late at night just to attend class in a school with no running water or electricity.

It's not uncommon for more than 200 children to cram into a small classroom where a teacher, who gets paid less than $100 a month, instructs from the front of the room, Mulindwa said.

Mulindwa grew up in a family of 10 children and attended such a school for several years. His only hope for receiving an education was through a financially stable uncle who helped make the young boy's dreams come true, enrolling him in a private boarding school where he learned to speak English, read and write.

Doesn't forget family

As an adult, Mulindwa traveled to the U.S. to receive an education in 2005. An internship brought him to Seattle from Pennsylvania and ultimately to Sequim.

Although he is thousands of miles away from his hometown, Mulindwa has not forgotten the family and friends he left behind. Nor has he forgotten the devas-

tating conditions of the place he calls home, where free education doesn't exist, the average annual income is only $350 a year and about 7 percent of the population is infected with AIDS.

Though Mulindwa's purpose in coming to the states was to further his own education, he spends much of his free time educating others about his home.

By teaming up with others in the community, Mulindwa hopes to help ambitious Ugandans like himself break the cycle of poverty threatening their young lives.

If she has her way, Barbara Brown - owner of Tender Touches Skin Care Spa and founder of The Uganda School Fund - would like to raise enough money on the peninsula to build a new school with electricity and running water.

For more information about the Uganda School Fund or to make a donation, call Brown at 681-4363.

Ashley Miller can be reached at

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