The Kabira Adult Attention and School for Orphans, known as KAASO (www.kaaso-uganda.org) is located in the small, rural village of Kabira in the Rakai District of southern Central Uganda.
Established in 1999 by Dominic and Rose Mukwaya, the school was first created to accommodate children orphaned by AIDS, a disease that had taken a stronghold on the community, devastating families and leaving grandparents struggling to support their orphaned grandchildren. The school began with just 12 children who slept on bunks in Dominic and Rose’s house and in the early days classes were taught in one thatched hut.
Since then the school has grown exponentially and now boasts a roll of around 600 children, over half of which board at KAASO. Due to the high teaching standard of the school, parents from near and far began to request that their children also attend KAASO and so the doors were opened for non-orphans as well. Today, Dominic and Rose juggle an incredible system whereby orphans do not pay school fees, children whose parents can afford to pay do and then there is a whole raft of children in between whose parents pay partial fees – or make up the difference with offerings of food or services.
KAASO first began taking volunteers in 2005 after partnering with Kids Worldwide (www.kidsworldwide.org), a volunteer organisation that charges minimal fees and places emphasis on funds going to the local projects rather than their own profits. Since then, dozens of volunteers from around the globe have come to KAASO where they are welcomed with open arms by Dominic and Rose into their school, the village, their home and their family.
Dominic, Rose and the whole community at KAASO are like family to me now and I know that I will forever return – a part of my heart will always be in Uganda.