Giving Back in Uganda
We’re often asked about what projects or organizations guests can support in Uganda – and the rest of our destinations for that matter! This past May, on a Classic Africa Safaris fam trip, Sonya not only enjoyed the thrill of the incredible wildlife but also developed a deep love for the country – noting that Ugandans gave us the warmest of welcomes! Beyond the surface beauty of the terraced landscapes and lush vegetation, productive fields of crops, and new roads being built, it became clear through conversations with Habib Muhereza, one of Classic Africa Safaris’ extraordinary guides, that communities continue to struggle.
One such community is Kyambura Village – perched on the edge of the Kichwamba Escarpment and Queen Elizabeth National Park. Challenges faced are similar to those of many communities on park boundaries and include human/wildlife conflict, poaching, and lack of educational opportunities.
Several years ago the US Peace Corps created a community school, now called the Giant Junior School, in Kyambura Village. Their goal was pre-K education – focusing on children ages 3 – 5 years. To involve more of the community, they also started wildlife clubs, conservation programs, and drama clubs. There was great momentum behind the school until the program wrapped and the Peace Corps volunteers left.
Fast forward to 2012 and meet Sandra Vaboom – a traveler walking through the village with her guide, Habib Muhereza. They were followed by so many little children, even though school should have been in session at that time. Inspired to do something, she embarked on an effort to build a classroom block for the young and impressionable children. Not only was Habib from the area but, he was also trustworthy, and he became the one responsible to oversee the construction. Five hundred dollars and two years later – the class was fully complete and opened with 110 children registered!
Today, the Giant Junior School continues to grow – not only as a pre-K educational opportunity but children receive two meals a day while they are there. The school is also used as a rehabilitation center for ex-poachers. Habib is the director of the school and loves when travelers want to stop for a visit. Many generous guests and tour operators have helped support the school over the years including the building of a toilet block, fencing, building repairs, and the like. During the May visit to the school – it is evident how grateful and proud the children and teachers are!
Classic Africa Safaris can easily (and they often do) include a visit to this school in any itinerary that includes the area of Kyambura Gorge. We highly recommend the visit and for anyone inspired to help, donations can be made to the school. The buildings do require periodic repairs after storms in particular. Feeding programs and help with school fees is another easy way to have a ‘giant’ impact on a young life.
Classic Africa Safaris are also proud to support: