African Rural Schools Foundation USA
Renee Waun who pastors four small UU churches in Pennsylvania, Ohio
and West Virginia first went to Uganda in 2003 to teach and work with
AIDS orphans and became devoted to the children: their love of learning;
their eagerness for life; their hopefulness.
Soon after that, in collaboration with a young visionary Ugandan teacher
named Hanan, she became Founding Sponsor of the African Rural Schools
Hanan had found an old wooden desk and sat behind it under a tree in
the little village near his home. He painted a sign that said he was accepting
registrations for school. This was just two weeks before school usually
In just a few days, he had 40 students enrolled, so he hired two teachers.
There were three classes of children at first, sitting in groups outside
under the tree for their lessons. The first real expense he had was to
pay a carpenter a few shillings to paint him a blackboard.
That's how he started.
Then, he found a block building that had 2 pit toilets at one end, with
some land around it. He asked the owner if he could use it to build a
school, and the owner agreed, since he wasn't using the land.
During this time, people came bringing boards, tools, bamboo stalks, tree
branches, tin for the roof. There were mostly teenagers who actually built
the school. They would work in exchange for something to eat.
Then, with the first building in place, more students were enrolling.
They started on the second building, using bricks they made themselves,
from the red mud. They shaped the bricks and baked them in a makeshift
oven made from the trees they cleared from the land.
This is where Rev. re-entered the story. She came to Uganda again and
saw first hand the progress of this new school venture, now named the
New ABC Divine Foundation Primary School, and thus began her long commitment
to the African Rural Schools Foundation USA. She has been coming back
every year since then, to help nurture and grow this wonderful school.
In October, 2006 Mr. Ken Noble of Monroeville volunteered for two weeks working at the school. In January/ February, 2008 Dr. Waun led a trip to Uganda with three volunteers: William Delphia of Columbus, OH, and Steve and Kay Martin from Asheville, NC. Two volunteers accompanied Dr. Waun in 2009: Michael Glass and Nicole Rodgers, both from Pittsburgh, PA. In 2010, Robert Rogers from Myrtle Beach, SC, and Del Rodrigquez from Pittsburgh and in 2011 Michael Glass again and Audrey Addison Williams from Santa Barbara, CA, and later Nathan Thomas from Findlay, OH. In 2012 Rev. Waun and Michael Glass again made the trip.
All the volunteers and supporters of ARSF-USA are working to get the word
out about all the wonderful things that are happening. We would love for
you to be part of this exciting endeavor. The East Suburban UU Church
near Pittsburgh is receiving all monetary donations for transfer to Uganda
so that contributions are fully tax deductible. See "How
You Can Help" for more details.
- Renee Waun (top right) went to Uganda to work with AIDS orphans
- She met and consulted with Hanan Bulime on his idea for establishing
- Hanan started the school on borrowed land with buildings made of
- Rev. Waun went to Uganda. She and Hanan started the NGO registration
process for ARSF-USA; got a post office box; cell phone; letterhead; bank
- Rev. Waun became the Founding Sponsor
- A volunteer (Ken) went over from the church: set up a Pen Pal project;
did leadership training; oversaw the purchase of Hanan’s computer
system and connected to internet
- Developed our ARSF-USA website
- Rev. Waun took 3 volunteers: Kay, Steve, and Will
- Constructed 2-room media centre and office; filmed a documentary
- Installed a computer network using 6 OLPC computers
- Did teacher training; started craft sales
- 400 students are enrolled.
- Rev. Waun took 2 volunteers: Michael and Nicole. We had raised
money to purchase 2000 mosquito nets, so we organized a distribution
ceremony that involved the entire village.
- We made plans to raise money to replace the old classroom block
with a brick one. We raised $30,000.
- Rev. Waun took 2 volunteers: Bob and Del, a nurse. We dedicated the
new brick classroom block; established a 2-bed Clinic to serve the school
- We have just raised money and purchased band instruments for fundraising
concerts at the school.
- We are also making more connections with schools in other countries
for networking, fundraising and learning.
- Two volunteers accompanied Rev. Waun: Michael Glass, a repeat from
2009, who tested the children and staff for eyeglasses, and acted as
consultant for the ongoing building projects; and Audrey Addison Williams
- We met with Dr. Mina from Uganda Cares; the agency that will come
to the school for HIV testing, treatment and support.
- We are looking for major grants to support these new ventures.
- Nathan Thomas from Findlay, OH has provided computers and visited the school to service them
- Rev. Waun and Michael Glass inspect new entry/parking area; recommend building improvements
- Church people provided a dress made from a pillow case for each girl at the school (Little Dresses for Africa)
- Water issues create an emergency: destructive floods in rainy season; complete lack of water in dry season
- Ssebunya Kizza is hired as the ARSF USA Liaison Officer
- Dr. Waun consulted with Liaison Officer and school officials for placement of walls/trenches
- Distributed 150 pounds of good, used leather shoes to children and school staff
- Hired Abbey Ssejjuuko to be trained and to coordinate a micro-finance project at the school
- Rev. Waun and volunteer Nancy Fitzgerald, a retired engineer, assess utility usage and water project
- Micro-Finance Project hosts kick-off meeting with 70 women
- Handmade shorts are delivered to the boys at the school