My name is Kevin. I was, born on 11th September 1997. When I reached seven years, my father and mother died 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 and me to her home in town. My aunt would give us guidance and show 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, going through tough times 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. I have studied there for the past three years and now I’m in senior four. I will sit for a national exam at the end of 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 made 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
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.
Earlier this month the U-TOUCH Gulu community decided that they would like to come together to share with the world that the people are so very happy with what U-TOUCH is doing on the ground. We also just so happened to have Bosmic Otim, an incredible Northern Ugandan singer songwriter on our team. We decided to host a street parade and concert to celebrate the amazing accomplishments of the U-TOUCH community and invite others to join the movement. It was incredible to see the large team of volunteers working so hard to organize the event. Sylvia Latim, Maria A., Bosmic, Williams, Patricia and many more were all instrumental in making the event a huge success! Bosmic Otim invited other talented singer songwriters including BS Labong, Pretty B, Joe Emrold, Maria A., and a group he has worked with named “Nile Republic”.
The event began at 10am and we paraded through Gulu with all nine singers and thousands of supporters playing U-TOUCH music. Bosmic led the parade by speaking about the benefits of U-TOUCH in his home town. Students paraded through the streets of Gulu inviting the community to this one of a kind, unparalleled concert with so many fabulous singers who danced, sang and entertained an uproarious crowd excited about our organization.
The Concert was held at Kaunda Grounds and began at 1pm and continued well into the night. I was humbled by the opportunity to speak to the crowd of 5000 people singing, dancing, and laughing. Gloria and Grace Kyallo along with Sylvia Latim, a good will ambassador from the UK, spoke. Bosmic and Joe Emrold shared with the roaring crowd the U-TOUCH songs they had written. District officials attended and all were overjoyed with the thousands of supporters cheering and dancing the night away with incredible artists.
It was a perfect day, and I am overjoyed to see that the Gulu Community is in tremendous support of U-TOUCH. I want to say a special thank you to all who volunteered to make this event a reality. Without your hard work the parade and concert would not have been such a huge success. Thank you to Bosmic Otim who has inspired us with his beautiful music and incredible heart.
It feels good to be back in my home away from home, in Gulu town. Each year I return to receive a warmer welcome and from more than the year before. Each time I see someone for the first time I am swept off my feet with the greatest loving sincere hug after a year’s hiatus from my family away from family. Both the U-TOUCH and AMREF staff shared their joy and love with my return to the Gulu U-TOUCH Digital Center.
Each year I return to find that U-TOUCH has progressed beautifully and grown in so many dimensions. The staff has become even more dedicated to U-TOUCH and their expertise strengthened. The Center is in full swing; there are 14 desktops and 10 laptops in action here in Gulu with 15 connected to the Internet. The Center looks great and we will be having a painting party soon to brighten it up!
Upon arrival, I walked into a training session at Gulu Digital Center where Charles was deeply involved in training a group of Health Workers from Awach Health Center, about 36 km from the Gulu. The health workers are delighted to be here and do not want to leave as they are excited about the benefits they will derive from having technology in this remote village. You could hear a pin drop as the trainees intently listened to their trainer’s very important word. By the first day the trainees were drawing as well as typing on the computer. As the class came to a close, the trainees shared that they did not want to leave the Digital Center. They would need to end their first day of training on a Saturday eagerly waiting to return the very next day.
That is the News from the Field today! I hope it gave you a glimpse into life in Gulu. I will be writing again soon to keep you updated on all the latest from U-TOUCH. Please feel free to comment below or write to me on Facebook if you would like to hear about anything in particular!
Travel from San Diego to Uganda was a bit challenging with pushing, pulling and storing of heavy baggage, delayed flights leading to a missed flight and delayed baggage and exhaustion. Reading and sleeping was the pattern over the 24 hours but finally arriving in beautiful Uganda dissolved any and all travel woes. Stepping out from the airport to the cloudless blue sky and warm air enveloping my soul all stress was relieved by the kind and warm welcome back to Uganda.
The driver and helper from Hellen’s Lake View Guesthouse waited patiently for my delayed arrival and drove me up to an oasis in the hills. Hellen greeted me upon arrival, a beautiful woman with a warm smile and soon to discover a warm heart as well. After a brief tour of the guesthouse I showered and crawled into a long awaited comfortable bed while the sun shone, a most unusual experience for me. Closing my eyes to the music of the melodious Ugandan birds I instantly fell into a slumber where I stayed for five hours. Much to my surprise awakening at 5:20pm I extricated myself from the cozy environs to enjoy the last of the sunshine before the daylight began to turn its back toward Uganda.
I came upstairs to the deck of the guest house where Lake Victoria can easily be seen hugging the shoreline. You can see for miles from the roof of hills between Entebbe and Kamplala, known as Kijansi. The lake, beautiful homes, tropical fauna, including fruit trees, sounds of birds, goats, and prayer horns, were a palate of color and symphony welcoming my arrival to Uganda. The calm beauty of Uganda wrapped my body and soul warmly melting away all my stress from the Western world.
As I sat on the veranda Hellen offered me a most inviting delicious freshly picked papaya from her many fruit bearing trees in her beautiful garden. Beside was a bunch of powerfully packed flavorful miniature bananas. After airplane Asian vegetarian food these fruits were welcome to my healing body. The freshness of Ugandan fruits and vegetables is unparalleled for building both my body and soul for two months to come.
Shortly, I will take another slumber to arise at 3.am to pick up my friend from the airport to begin his first time welcome to Uganda.