Deahla has partnered with the ECHOES Foundation to bring you the story of Trinity, a top-ranked primary school in a slum outside Kampala, Uganda. They struggle in the way you would expect, but their resilience and passion means a world-class education for 1,300 bright kids, and inspires in a big way.
Trinity Children’s Centre began in a garage in 1986 with just six kids because there was no school nearby. Today the primary school has four different campuses, dorms to house orphan students, and even a marching band. A Philadelphia-based charity called ECHOES Around the World has been instrumental in the growth of this incredible school. They raise the funds that pay for teacher salaries, school supplies, uniforms, meals, expansion, and a special scholarship program called YES!, which provides free education to select high-potential students at Trinity.
Hillary, the shy 13-year-old boy in our film, is one such YES! scholarship recipient. He has endured many of the same hardships a lot of Ugandan children face, but the scholarship means that this cute, chatty kid has been given a chance to pursue his biggest, wildest dreams – he wants to become a pilot.
Trinity – and a high school about 80 miles from Kampala – is the brainchild of Ugandan couple Sarah and David “Romans” Serunjogi. They lived in the Kabowa slum outside the capital, and saw the poverty that starved children not only of their basic needs, but also of an education that would give them a better life. So they decided to do something about it. Something big.
They started in their garage, and as word spread and more kids came for the free lessons, the garage become cramped. By the end of the first year they had 200 students, and had built temporary structures to accommodate the growing numbers. Some parents were paying tuition and some weren’t. But they kept growing.
Today, Trinity is consistently ranked one of the best schools in the country. And because of its high-quality, low-cost education, many of Trinity’s students have gone on to high school and university. The students, aged 2 to 13, come from poverty, many have lost one or both parents – often to AIDS – and many families, who have never been educated themselves, cannot afford the tuition.
The ECHOES charity has helped send dozens of children to school with its YES! scholarship program, which offers full educational support for one academic year. The charity also provides funds for salaries, supplies, the construction of new dorms and classrooms, and for the lunch of posho (cornmeal cooked with water) and beans that the kids receive each day.
Even with ECHOES’ support, there are daily challenges that would discourage even the most persevering entrepreneur. Many students aren’t paying any tuition, teachers go months without a salary, the walls and floors are cracking, the computers and books are out of date, and more housing is needed for boarding students (a boys dormitory was torched and destroyed in February 2013 by a disgruntled former student).
But despite the myriad challenges, the future truly is bright for the school, its teachers and its students. The Serunjogi family works tirelessly day in and day out to one day make Trinity a self-supporting operation. And their goals for the future get loftier each day.
Their dream to offer world-class, affordable education is being realized every day, as is their dream to strengthen and better the poverty-stricken community of which they have been a part their entire lives.Close