With the help of Mtaala, Awegys is now a fully operational secondary school, providing full-time education and accommodation to 100 students. The school is comprised of three classroom blocks, student dormitories, modern sanitation facilities, a library, a science laboratory and a health clinic. As of January 2016, we have begun construction on a new classroom block that will also provide additional dorm facilities for our students.
Beyond ensuring that all its students receive the best possible education and successfully complete secondary school, Awegys, with Mtaala's support and encouragement, also engages in the following extra-curricular activities, which are not only of benefit to Awegys' students but also the wider community of Kigo:
Community reading day
Every Saturday, Awegys students and primary school students from the local village gather under the large tree across from the school for Community Reading Day. The primary students play games and sing, dance and drum before settling down to a collection of children’s books. Awegys students read to the younger children. At the end of the session, all of the students share new words or facts they learned. Since its inception, the local primary students have arrived of their own initiative and continue to show increased curiosity about reading. Given the lack of reading culture in Uganda, this alone is a true testament to the project’s success. Additionally, Community Reading Day gives our students an opportunity to hone their leadership skills, as two different Awegys students help lead the session every week.
Many of the students at our school possess overwhelming artistic talent, and we are proud to support them in their artistic endeavors. With Mtaala's support, Awegys students have received workshops in the art of making jewelry from handmade paper beads, journaling, self-portraiture, photography, and traditional bark cloth painting. A one-week workshop from visiting Czech artist, Klara Cecmanova, led to the students creating works of art which were then auctioned at art sales in the UK and US, raising substantial funds for Awegys.
The play: Journey to Mtaala
A theater professor visited the school for a fortnight on a grant. Within that two week period, she and our students wrote the script and songs for a play about their lives entitled, Journey to Mtaala. The play chronicles the students' varying stories of hardship - war, poverty, HIV, orphans, prejudice, child labor, and their dreams of attending school, which were finally realised.
Awegys' environmental greenstars
The Awegys' Environmental Greenstars, a student-led environmental club at the school, meets weekly to discuss environmental problems facing the community and to take practical steps towards addressing them. Projects undertaken include the development of a school vegetable garden, planting trees maintaining the school compound, picking up garbage in the nearby village, and educating the surrounding community about positive environmental practices.
Awegys students completed a five-week workshop in digital photography with a visiting professional photojournalist and artist, Amy Mullarkey. Amy also secured the donation of a number of digital cameras for the school. Throughout the workshop, the students focused on composition and frequently took field trips into the surrounding villages to practice new techniques.
A visiting teacher made writer's notebooks with Awegys students. The initial session was followed by a week of reading and creative writing workshops.