Opiyo is a graduate of the Gulu U-TOUCH Digital Center program. Today, he works at a printing company, from early in the morning until late at night. But he loves his job, the skills he’s gained and the possibilities he sees for his future.
“I will never forget U-TOUCH for the wonderful transformation it has brought into my life. It has made me who I am. It gave me a spear to go for a hunt, a net to go fishing.”
Atim Gracious was an unemployed woman from Patongo, about 40 km from Pader. After graduating from the Pader U-TOUCH Digital Center IT training she returned home and, with money from her father, started her own business providing computer training and typing, printing, photocopying, binding and scanning. Her clients include schools, NGOs, churches and individuals from all over the region.
“The best decision I ever made in my life was to attend U-TOUCH. My life has been totally transformed and I am self-reliant.”
Women’s empowerment training has been the most remarkable thing that ever happened to me. Through the training, I gained entrepreneurship skills, leadership skills among other skills that I use in my day-to-day life experiences.
Thanks to U-TOUCH for giving me a grant of 150,000UGX [$50] that helped me to resume my peanut butter business. This has greatly increased my financial ability. The business generates for me over 50,000UGX everyday and this income helps me to support my family. Unlike other vulnerable women, I am no longer financially dependent and I also employ two other ladies who help me with the processing of the peanut butter.
My success has had an important impact on the community by inspiring other ladies and I believe that as I advance I will also employ many other women.
I request U-TOUCH to reach out to a lot more vulnerable women out there who do not know about this program so that they too can discover the hidden potential they possess.
I credit all of this achievement to U-TOUCH WOMEN EMPOWERMENT PROGRAM.
THANK YOU FOR CHANGING MY LIFE.
I’m so grateful to U-TOUCH that through the Women Empowerment Program I was trained in many things like leadership skills and entrepreneurship skills that enabled me to achieve a milestone that is changing my life and helping me access greater opportunities. I emerged one of the Winners in the Business Proposal Competition that led to a cash prize of 150,000UGX. Using the grant I obtained a 120-liter blue drum that is very vital in the liquid soap process and restarted the Liquid Soap Processing Project that I had given up for lack of finances and limited entrepreneurship skills. I also purchased chemicals for liquid soap processing. I processed the soap and I’m excited that I have already started selling.
I’m excited to say that my sales are going up steadily and my liquid soap-processing center has attracted a contract of cleaning a reputable organization’s Regional Office here in Gulu. I have got several inquiries from women who want to be trained in liquid soap processing. This is the next project phase I will embark on. Also I have a strong vision of running a cleaning service, where I need to purchase a washing machine, and use this very liquid soap to do people’s laundry.
U-TOUCH, thank you so much for changing my life and empowering me with lots of information. I was humbled by the young ladies who were our facilitators. I believe every opportunity to acquire new knowledge should be taken seriously. As an empowered woman, I long for the time when we as “U-TOUCH alumni” will reach out to the villages to inspire woman who are remotely located to get information from us.
My name is Kevin. I was born on 11th September 1997. When I reached seven years, my father and mother died in the LRA War and I became an orphan. Then I started schooling when I was eight years in primary one. This was during the time when the insurgency in Northern Uganda was at its peak and I had no one to stay with and to take proper care of me.
Fortunately, my aunt came to the village and took my brother, Sebastian, and me to her home in town. My aunt gave us guidance and showed us love and care. She taught us how to work in the house, washing clothes, cooking, sweeping the compound, gardening, and how to relate with our friends, relatives and neighbors. It was hard for me until U-TOUCH came to support me in school. I was in Primary four and with U-TOUCH support I reached Primary seven in 2012. I sat for my Primary exit exams and passed very well. I was then admitted to St Mary’s secondary school, in Gulu town where I have studied for the past two years. I am in senior three this year.
U-TOUCH has been so helpful and supportive of my life and education in particular. My school fees and scholastic materials have all been taken care of and that has allowed me to concentrate in school and do well. In the future, after my studies, I would like to become a teacher or businesswoman. From my business I would like to be able to support my family with their needs and pay school fees for other needy children, just like U-TOUCH is doing for me. I thank U-TOUCH so much for its continued support towards my education
My name is Auma Lillian Lucy, aged 19 years old. I hail from Pader town council.
I heard about the free computer training at U-TOUCH through the radio. Thereafter, I became interested and applied for the program. After completing training at U-TOUCH I became competent in use of computers and was hired as an Office Assistant at the Management Training and Advisory Center at the Pader Outreach Center. Now I am proud that I meet my expectations and above all, the training added value in my life in the following ways.
a) I create office documents for this institution using MS Word program and also for my research work.
b) The Internet knowledge helps me in carrying out my research in the different coursework given and making communications.
c) The health education especially on the reproductive health made me to be aware of the tips on how to prevent unplanned pregnancy.
d) Above all the ICT knowledge added much value in me especially in this position that I hold at this institute. The computer certificate was an essential requirement. I emerged the best and am proud of my position. All this is the result of U-TOUCH.
My words to the youth who are computer illiterate, is that the world is going digital, therefore there is need for us to embrace it fully, by utilizing the free training offered by U-TOUCH. Thank you to our facilitators and the entire U-TOUCH team.
Our Baby is One Year Old!!!!
It’s hard to believe that the first U-TOUCH Technology Innovation Hub (TIH) opened its doors little more than a year ago, in August 2014. With the only high-capacity color printer in the area, the U-TOUCH graphic center enables local businesses, schools and other organizations to print professional quality materials right in Gulu rather than in Kampala, 6 hours away.
Graphic designer Oceng Denis, assisted by fine artist and videographer Ibolit Emmanuel, heads the department, with Lapyem Denis providing marketing support. Since opening it’s doors, the TIH has produced posters, business cards, announcements, invitations, magazines and programs. Recently it has been developing websites for local businesses and organizations.
In addition to the growing graphics department, the TIH has just graduated its third class of Digital Literacy students as well as four Women’s Empowerment classes. Plans for 2016 include more class offerings, including videography, as well as expanding the U-TOUCH Internet Café. The TIH is making an impact on the local workforce, businesses and the community itself.
We met Sebastian in 2009, when he was 11 years old. He had lost both parents in the LRA War and was living with his grandmother and seven cousins. We enrolled Sebastian at Negri Secondary School where he was named a “bright and excellent” student, eager to learn. With his cousin Julius, Sebastian built a reading hut, where he practiced to become a proficient reader and scholar. On day, Sebastian figured out how to wire the family’s kitchen hut with a light bulb so that his grandma could cook after dark. Then, while still 11 years old and never having seen a computer or television, Sebastian built a working radio from a collection of junk parts!
Sebastian loved coming to the U-TOUCH Digital Center to study using the Internet. After ranking #1 in his class for four years and one of five top students in his entire district on a national exam Sebastian was invited to attend the London Colleges of St. Lawrence where he has scored top in S-5, equivalent to US 11th Grade. He is studying the sciences and hopes to become a doctor to help his community and country with the extreme health issues with which they wrestle.
Sebastian is currently applying to US schools for his undergraduate education.
He met with the US Embassy who is helping him with the process. And U-TOUCH has provided him a laptop for his schoolwork as well as for studying for the SAT’s.
It’s not easy to succeed in the high-flying world of Wall Street hedge funds. Trager Watson did that and one better. With $3,000 and lot of guts he started his own fund and in 6 years built his company to more than $500 million before learning a lot of lessons about managing that kind of torrid growth. You could say this guy from Arkansas has acquired a lot of wisdom outside the “Natural State.”
After Wall Street, Trager spent some time traveling in Asia and around the US, formulating his personal code for the next chapter of his life: Live life with a purpose outside yourself.
So when he ran in Deb Plotkin at a charity conference he could recognize the real deal. She enthusiastically shared U-TOUCH and the personal stories of beneficiaries—“as if they were her own children.” And, she completely astounded him with how much she has managed to accomplish with so little.
Since that day, Trager has looked under the hood and kicked the tires. He’s traveled to and around Uganda, visiting U-TOUCH Centers and comparing what he heard to what he saw. His take? It’s real. While plenty of charity organizations pump money at problems, U-TOUCH is offering something with a much better return. U-TOUCH is changing lives. He saw that the more the Ugandans learn, the more they grasp. And he is not the only one to recognize that, with it’s English speaking workforce and political stability, Uganda is a great candidate for the growing technology outsourcing industry.
Given his path, you can believe Trager when he says: Life is not simple. But it’s not as difficult as we make it. What matters is integrity and hard work; and a purpose outside yourself. He sees all of that in U-TOUCH.
While I been involved with U-TOUCH for five years it was not until this past summer that I finally had the opportunity to travel to Uganda. I spent three weeks traveling to each of the five U-TOUCH Digital Centers and meeting the dedicated staff with whom I had been conversing with via email and Skype. My mission for the trip was to provide mentoring and support to the staff on the ground in Uganda. From the warm greeting at the airport by Charles, our former Project Coordinator newly appointed as U-TOUCH Country Director, to the farewell party at the end of our visit, I was enchanted by the grace and warmth of the Ugandan people.
As I traveled to each of the centers to observe classes and speak with the beneficiaries the challenges related to the existing infrastructure became immediately apparent. With roads in poor condition and constant power outages things just take more time. On a positive note there are signs of growth everywhere you look; extensive road construction, a new hydroelectric plant and increased availability of the Internet. I was able to keep in touch with friends and family via Facebook using a basic smartphone and inexpensive data while bumping along on dirt roads in between villages.
Speaking with beneficiaries and hearing their stories first-hand was a highlight of the trip. We know that the U-TOUCH programs make a difference, that people are getting jobs, starting businesses and otherwise improving their livelihoods; but there is something special about seeing the light in a young woman’s eyes as she describes how she went from not believing she could touch a computer to becoming proficient and ultimately obtaining a job.
The ever-present children of Uganda tug at my heart. From children who appeared as young as 3 years old walking to get water, to the children in colorful uniforms playing in the schoolyards, to the children unable to afford school fees that congregate just outside the fenced schoolyard, these children are the future of Uganda. Without education the future for these children is bleak, indeed.
One way to help the children is through direct aid, such as sponsored student programs; another way is to skill the parents so that they can provide for their own families.
Time and time again U-TOUCH graduates shared that they were now able to afford the school fees for their children.
I have never been more thankful for the generous support of our donors than when I was in Uganda surrounded by the many people that have benefitted from U-TOUCH programs. Thank you for all you do!