By Tatiana Patterson
Young people in Lyantonde, Uganda, will soon have a place to study a trade, with the opening of the Salama Vocational Education Centre.
The school, which will open officially on Monday, was born out of a cry for help to fill a need in the community as stated by its leaders, said executive assistant for administration and consultation at Salama Shield Foundation, Anita Cooledge.
The foundation is based out of Plattsville, Ont. and serves as a non-governmental organization that provides needs in health, education, micro-finance, water supply and food production.
“More than fifty percent of Uganda’s population is youth under the age of fifteen” said Cooledge. “That’s a huge portion of the population that is untrained going forward into life.”
The education centre is currently opening its first phase, which will include courses like Agriculture, Bricklaying and Concrete Practice, as well as Carpentry and Joinery. A second phase will follow, which will provide courses in tailoring and weaving, hospitality, and auto-mechanics.
According to statistics collected by the United Nations Department of Economics and Social Affairs, nearly 30 per cent of the people living in Uganda live on less than $1.25 a day. Uganda has a population of 3.4 million. That’s almost 10 million people living in extreme poverty.
“The need for vocational training is huge,” said Cooledge. “A lot of the kids that we’re targeting come from disadvantaged backgrounds. They haven’t had the parental influence or the finances behind them to get further in education of school.”
Humber interior design coordinator Kelly Gluck has been a big part of the project and helped design and construct the Centre.
In 2012, Gluck was featured in Catalyst, the Salama Shield Foundations’ quarterly newsletter, where she was praised for her contribution.
The design coordinator was unable to comment because she is currently in Uganda for final preparations, but said in an email that she is happy to be opening the first phase of the project.
“After three years of planning and designing the campus, we are thrilled to be opening phase one,” said Gluck. “It will give an opportunity for vulnerable youth to learn a vocational skill and life tools.”
The Salama Vocational Education Centre profiled several students who have been accepted into the school.
One of the students recognized in the profiles, was 20-year-old Habukiriro Piuss, the oldest of three children, whose father died in 2008. After being accepted into the school, staff made a home visit and found Piuss fixing his family’s home with mud.
Piuss told Salama Vocational Education Centre that he wants to make a difference in his home and living conditions.
“I dream that as soon as I am skilled in bricklaying and concrete practice,” Piuss said. “Our family will have a sufficient water tank, good house and enough food. My brother and sister will study and get degrees and diplomas, they will not be like me who failed to get school fees. My bigger plan is to change the lives of orphans and widows in this area by mobilizing them and providing basic needs – more in particular, school fees.”