Toowa Community Nursery and Primary School was founded about twenty years back by the Toowa Pentecostal Church with help of Pastor Sam Okadi.
The was started due to the lack of a school in the village, existing schools were very far and the children would have to walk about six kilometers to attend those existing schools.
Children whose parents were able to afford the fees, would send their children to the nearest school which was located in the center of Lugazi town. The children would often have to walk through bushes and woodland to attend the school daily. For that reason very many children were not schooling.
This lack of education and children being left outside of an education structure also created other social problems such as:
- Unwanted pregnancies at an early age
- Alcohol and drug additions in the younger male groups
- Child exploitation
- The lack of education and money also meant increased/ higher levels of child labour
There was therefore a need for a school to serve the people of Toowa and the neighbouring villages.
The school started with only the nursery section (Pre-primary section) which had two classes ;
Every year when the children had to be promoted to the next education tier, a new class was built and new Baby class children admitted enrolled into the school.
The school now goes up to Primary Seven which makes the Primary section complete.
Even when the school was established in the area, not all parents were able to afford paying school fees and a few essentials such as books, pens, school uniforms etc as most people in Toowa are peasants who only grow food for their own consumption.
To add on this , many parents in Toowa village are illiterate as they themselves were never given the opportunity to get an eduction when they were younger and as such never realised the importance of schooling.
The little money the parents earn from making bricks, hunting, farming, working in the stone quarry, riding bodabodas (motor cycles taxis) is often not enough to survive on therefore this leaves the majority of the children still not being able to attend school.
Initially there was little income coming into the school from fee paying parents, with this limited income, the school was able secure good teachers enabling them to be paid promptly. This in turn allowed them to be retained thus, maintaining consistency for the children. However, it also meant that the children would go hungry whilst at school as there were no funds to provide meals for them.
In the year 2018, Kathleen Houghton (affectionally known to the school as Jajja Kathleen) along with her grandson Adam Smith and her best friend Angela Smith from Kirriemuir, Scotland visited Toowa school. This visit meant a lot to the school and Toowa village as a whole. Jajja loosely translated means an older wiser person that is highly respected, such as a grandma.
Since then, many children were enrolled on to sponsorship with the support coming from a group of individuals knows as the “Friends of Toowa“. Although this started from Scotland, the sponsors are now based all over the globe (so far from, Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, England, Pakistan, Scotland and USA This sponsorship allowed many poor and less fortunate families to send their children to school and receive a good level of education. This in turn will start to break a vicious circle of poverty and give the families a chance to better themselves and their future. Non of this would have been possible without the determination of Jajja Kathleen and this amazing sponsorship program which she spearheaded.
With the monthly support of £15 per month coming in from Friends Of Toowa, every sponsored child benefits from the following:
- Full-time education
- School Uniform is provided (With shoes if needed)
- Basic materials (Pens, Books)
- Medical assistance should a child become poorly
- 2 meals a days (which for a poor family could mean a child doesn’t starve)
- The school was able to employ more professional and competent teachers.
- Now Toowa school produces some of the best pupils in the National Examinations every year.
With the regular donations from fundraisers and generosity coming in all year round from Friends Of Toowa, the school was able to build:
- A standard office (Solid Structure) where Elijah (Our main Project leader) would meet the parents. The same office was big enough to also be used by the school administrators.
- A standard (solid structure) classroom for the baby class children who were initially studying in a wooden classroom which wasn’t wind and rain proof.
- A standard (Solid Structure) School Kitchen was built as the old one was in an open place. Whenever it rained, this meant no food as the fire would be put out by the rain.
- A new standard dormitory (Solid Structure) was built. This has helped to house the girls who are at a higher risk. Since very many children walk very long distances through unlit forested bushy roads which put their lives at risk.
- Small houses for some of the homeless families and those living in very poor and often life risking shelters.
- Steps leading down from the baby classroom were built to keep the littles ones safe.
- One of the biggest project came after the destruction of our main classrooms (due to adverse weather). Within a year, a block of four classrooms were built and ready for the students to resume their education. Our blessing was that this happened during the COVID pandemic and there were no children at school.
- At the end of every year since 2018, with the donations coming from Friends of Toowa, children would celebrate an annual Christmas Party where they received Christmas presents from their sponsors, eat cake, sing dance and eat a very special meal together with all their parents invited.
- Every month, there are gifts (parcels) coming in from sponsors and other friends of Toowa to the children. This has been a very big symbol of love to children who are orphans and those that do not get love from those they live with due to high levels of poverty.
A problem was identified by one of the Friends of Toowa team that many girls would regularly miss school whenever they were on their periods as they would not be able to afford sanitary towels. As you can imagine, this had an impact of their education and performance in their grades.
A group of individuals from the “Friends of Toowa” along with Elijah’s sister have formed a Women’s Group, this was started up to support the girls while they are in their menstruation periods and also teach them proper hygiene as future responsible mothers of the country. With the support to this Women’s Group, an incinerator was built to help dispose off the used sanitary pads. The girls regularly meet with the health personnel to study more about their growth changes and challenges as Women. The group now have designs and classes to enable the girls to make re-useable sanitary pads along with regular donations of products being sent from the UK.
Recently, four classrooms that were not solid structures were blown away in the strong winds and rain. Luckily the children and staff were not there and the security guard manage to escape without injury. The group are now fundraising and donations are coming in to rebuild the classrooms as one solid structure with partition walls. This will enable their use to be flexible. Primarily as three classrooms, but these can be adjusted in size for parties, assemblies, visits during healthcare days (like when the Dental Charity Dentaid visited), this also allows the possibilities for future income from hiring it out at the weekends for functions. The school is located up high with great views.
Very many more other achievements not mentioned here have been registered.
With all this support coming in , there has been a fundamental change in the lives of the children under our care and the whole village as a whole.
Watch this space as our History continues……..