Local SDLP rep tells of trip to Ugandan schools where ‘pay to learn’ threatens education of poor children

Colin Keenan in the classroom – he’s hoping to fund a year’s education at Martyrs for seven children Colin Keenan in the classroom – he’s hoping to fund a year’s education at Martyrs for seven children
By Ciara Quinn

“A new sense of feeling blessed,” is how a local SDLP representative has described a recent trip to Uganda to work in schools.

Colin Keenan has just returned from a three-week trip organised by Fr Aloysius Lumala from Glen Road’s St Matthias’ Church to see first hand the work the work undertaken at Uganda Martyrs Secondary School in Wakiso.

“Before going out with Fr Aloysius we decided to make it a fundraising trip and we were successful in the drive to be able to raise £4,000,” said Colin. “We visited and worked at two orphanages, one for children with special needs, where we met with the staff and the people they cared for. We visited over ten schools and spoke to thousands of young people and spoke about the importance of education for a better life.”

Colin said that while at the Martyrs Primary School he learned that the educational future of many of the students, varying in age, is in doubt due to poverty.

“We spoke to many pupils and their parents and guardians about the future, especially around their education. It’s very much pay money to learn, even at primary school level. A lot of the people and children we spoke to, all their stories differ. I have funded a seven-year-old South Sudan pupil called Jermulah so that she will be able to keep up her schooling until 2016. The rest of the children are in limbo. It is our hope that we could be able to fund a further seven children’s education and I’m making an impassioned plea to the community to perhaps donate, no matter how small an amount, to this project. We found out that it costs £300 a year for a child to attend primary school and £400 a year for secondary education.

“I have organised a church door collection at St John’s on August 10 and I’m hoping the community, who have always been so generous, might be able to help secure these children a long-term education.

“My trip lasted three weeks and I have come back with a new sense of feeling blessed – a lot of what I take for granted in my everyday life is something these guys can only dream about.

“The recent trip was made possible through the generosity of Springfield Charitable Association, St Vincent de Paul, WorkForce Training Services and many individual donors. As I said, no matter how small, any donation can make a difference.”

If you’d like to help, call Colin on 07470277733 or email him at ckennan15@qub.ac.uk

 

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