World Ark Magazine - Spring 2011 - (Page 13)
Meet Our Newest Heifer Whether it’s opening schools for orphans, stopping human traf cking, building houses for the poor or teaching fellow farmers how to thrive, these Heifer Heroes are doing great things to help others.
ILLUsTrATIoNs BY CHrIs LYoNs
Twesigye Jackson Kaguri
Jackson Kaguri left his village of Nyaka, uganda, to pursue an education and comfortable life in the united States, but when his siblings died of AIDS, Kaguri knew he had to return home to give other children a chance at education and good health. He’s already built two schools, and his students are thriving.
ackson kaguri was 4 years old when he sneaked out of his house to follow his sisters to school. In Uganda students start class at age 6, but young kaguri simply couldn’t wait any longer. So one morning he tiptoed quietly after them, hiding behind bushes and keeping at a safe distance for the entire seven-mile trek. when he got there, though, he couldn’t hide any longer. “That’s the first day I found out that to go to school you must wear a uniform,” kaguri said. “I had on shorts with a big hole in the back. all the other kids were dressed in white shirts and khakis.” Then kaguri got another surprise. “Twesigye Jackson kaguri,” an angry voice boomed from behind him. kaguri’s father had followed him and then dragged him back home without a word. when they got there, kaguri’s father made him an offer. he would pay to send his youngest son to school early on the condition that he never fail an exam. The first failing grade would be the end of any tuition payments and the end of his education. “I think he was wishing I’d say no,” kaguri said. “The next morning I was fitted for a uniform.” kaguri was one of five children born to parents who valued education but never went to school themselves. Paying for uniforms, tuition and supplies was a nearly overwhelming burden to the family, who had to sell off livestock and
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eventually land to cover expenses. But the investment in young kaguri paid off. he was an ace student, earning a spot at Uganda’s national university in kampala. In 1995 he came to Columbia University in New York as a visiting scholar. as kaguri was finishing his studies, his older brother was dying of aIdS. kaguri came back to his dusty, remote village to be with his brother in his final days, and he pledged to take care of the three children his older brother was leaving behind. when his sister died of aIdS six months later, kaguri took on another nephew, this one hIV-positive. “I had hopes of buying a car, marrying a beautiful woman, having a good time, having a job, doing whatever I wanted. all the sudden I am the father of four children, one dying of hIV/aIdS. They need rent, they need pencils, they need medicine,” kaguri said. and his responsibilities extended beyond his family. his entire village was ravaged by aIdS, and the grandparents who suddenly found themselves in charge of their orphaned grandchildren looked to kaguri to help pay tuition and buy books and school supplies. he dutifully helped them out, but in 2001, his wife suggested a different strategy. why not start their own school? kaguri agreed, and as the school was being built, he traveled back and forth between Nyaka and east lansing, Mich., where he worked at Michigan State University. kaguri raised money while he was in the U.S., and raised shovelfuls of dirt when he was in Nyaka. Two rooms were ready for the students by January 2003. Villagers kept building, and the Nyaka School swelled to seven rooms by 2009, large enough to accommodate more than 200 aIdS orphan students. The school itself represented a victory, but it quickly became evident that buildings and teachers weren’t going to be enough. Many of the students had the swollen bellies that indicate serious malnutrition, and they sometimes fell asleep during class because they didn’t have enough energy to stay awake. So a school garden was planted to supply stuSPRI NG 2011 | woRl d aRk
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of World Ark Magazine - Spring 2011
World Ark Magazine - Spring 2011
For the Record
The Good Life
Asked & Answered
Meet Our Heifer Heroes
Teach a Man to Fish-Farm
Eating Little Rock: The Short History of a Foodshed
World Ark Magazine - Spring 2011
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