Daniel and Richard's stories
If there is anyone who understands barriers to education, it is Daniel, Headteacher of Cubu Primary School - African Revival Uganda's first 'Focal School'.
Born in the village of Korro, Gulu in Northern Uganda in 1957, Daniel is one of twenty seven children.
"As a young Primary pupil I would walk 10km to school and being a Protestant living in a Catholic area, I was beaten most days," recalls Daniel during his early years at school. One thing he knew from a young age was his dream of becoming a teacher, "I admired the respect that teachers received from the community. They were such important figures in society. I also grew up as a babysitter which was very rare for a man to do, especially in those days. I loved children and dreamed of becoming a teacher."
Throughout his education, conflict has affected him greatly, "When I was in Secondary School, my classmates were being killed by Idi Amin's soldiers so I had to leave. When I reached Primary Teaching College in Lira, a conflict between two tribes broke out and I had to evacuate immediately, leaving everything behind to walk home. It took me three days and I had access to just one cup of water."
One of Daniel's most proud moments in life was entering university in Kampala, Uganda's capital. At the age of 46, Daniel has saved enough money to further his education and left his wife with his 16 children at home on September 1st 2003. Just three days later, Daniel received terrible news from a dear friend. "I was told that 13 of my children had been abducted by the Lord's Resistance Army rebels. They stripped my wife of everything, took our children and every possession that we owned. That night I was ready to end my own life." Daniel returned to Gulu to his wife and babies and waited for his children to return. Twelve of Daniel's children returned traumatised from the bush but one remains captured, as a child soldier.
Daniel was posted as the first Headteacher of Cubu Primary School in 2005. For a short time, he was the only teacher of 4 classes but he had high hopes for the school. African Revival came across the school in 2007 and identified it as a priority school for a borehole. After seeing the amazing work that Daniel and his teachers have achieved on minimal resources, Cubu Primary became our first 'Focal School' in Uganda.
During the conflict a 12 year old pupil was abducted from Cubu Primary and murdered by rebels on the site. His body was found by the teachers. The school grieved, but Daniel refused to be defeated. Supported by loyal donor Steve Jones a library was constructed as a memorial to those lost in the war, and as a symbol of hope for the future. A counselling room, canteen, text books and classroom furniture were provided and more teachers were posted to the school. Cubu is now a thriving hub of learning thanks to Daniel, who with our help has never given up on the dream that we share: an Africa where children have access to education, opportunity and choice.
African Revival invests in and works alongside strong, inspiring leaders like Daniel and their communities. This is why our work at schools like Cubu Primary has been so effective and will be sustained in the future.
Richard was born in 1978, during the last regime of Idi Amin's rule in Uganda. He was given the name Ayella, which means 'trouble'. Richard's struggle in receiving a basic education was tough but remains the reason why he is working to help people in the field of education today.
During his first year of primary school, Richard and his family fled to Sudan as refugees but had to return one year later because of the country's own political problems, "South Sudan had their own coup to deal with and famine was a problem. We would have just enough to eat - one bowl of porridge each day." On their return to Northern Uganda, his family faced further troubles when the Lord's Resistance Army terrorised their homes. Richard was a night commuter and throughout his primary and secondary education he slept in the garage of a nearby Catholic mission. "When I reached P7 (final year of primary school) I sat my exams surrounded by military guards. Our ears would be open for gun shots at all times whilst we tried to concentrate on our papers". Despite these challenges, Richard passed his exams and carried on to secondary school, facing further threat from the LRA rebels, "In my third year, rebels entered school property and killed my physics teacher but were fought off by government soldiers."
Richard went on to further his studies and became a primary school teacher and later in 2006, he completed his university course in Development Studies. His grass roots knowledge within education in Uganda, as well as his development background led him to become African Revival's first Education Programme Officer in 2007. Since then, Richard has worked on our Focal Schools programme working with schools and communities to assess their needs and implement activities, as well as supporting our Schools Linking Programme. He travelled to the UK in 2010 to visit UK partner schools, carrying out workshops with teachers and pupils on education in Northern Uganda.
AR's approach to development is inclusive and seeks to find out the real needs of communities. Richard's ability to empathise with and understand communities and individuals who have been affected by the conflict is one of the reasons why we are able to work hand in hand with our beneficiaries, ensuring sustainable development.