Uganda, Africa

UGA03a - Hope Restoration Centre : Partnership Reports

Other Reports Available:

Print friendly version

Back to Partnership

Report Date: October 29, 2019

great visitReport from BHW Uganda Partnership Facilitators Following Visit

Key Person: Anna Ocen

We spent two full days at Hope Restoration Centre. Some of the children were around and we have reported on a couple of them as we had chats with them while we were there. 


Recent Events


The children are doing really well and we really enjoyed catching up with them. Many of them are doing exceptionally well and we have given a few snapshots in the personal stories below. We discussed the change of focus from academic to more vocational orientation. 

doing wellSome of the children who have small incomes are returning something back to the centre. Emmanuel Ocen is returning 30-50,000 UGX (US$8-13) when he gets it but this is erratic. Many of the young people are now in types of internship roles but these are unpaid. This also applies to Amos who has been accepted into a junior lectureship role at Lira University but we understand that he is not being paid for this.

The following is a list of the children and what they are presently doing:
Peter – Telecom: He is starting his third year in August 2019. His fees are the same as last year. He is doing well and liking the course. This is a Diploma course he is doing in Kampala.

Robina – Nursing: She finished in July 2019 and is awaiting results. She is doing an internship at Lira Hospital but is not in paid employment. This is about her getting experience but at least she does not have to pay like some interns do. She is living back at HRC. There are no further study costs needed. She should pass her exams. 

Sandra – Plumbing: She has finished her Certificate in plumbing and is continuing with the Diploma which is a further two years now. She will not get work without a Diploma. Fees are to stay the same as last time. She is doing very well. She has been volunteering for a plumber in Amolatai District near Dokolo. 

Haggai – Building and Construction Certificate: He has just started his second year and is doing well. He hopes to work in the field when he finishes but also wants to upgrade to a Diploma. We discussed issues like how long the children would study and Anna is trying to ensure that the children get a basic qualification which is vocational but this definitely takes more time for some than others.

Emmanuel Ocen – Agriculture: He has two more years to go to finish an agricultural Degree. He finished the Diploma recently and is continuing with Degree study. We have sent some separate information on Ema as we think that there may be some considerable possibilities with him in the future. 

Haggard – Public Administration (Business and Procurement) Diploma course: He is working for the Lira Town Council as a volunteer to get experience in procurement, pricing and tendering. He is doing very well and is very bright. He is starting his second year in August 2019.

Emmanuel Ayoo – Teaching/ Education: He is starting his second year now and has performed well. For him we understand that teaching is a two year course. He will get a Diploma in Teaching then. 

Night – Education/ Teaching: Night is doing well after some early problems and will also finish a Diploma in July 2020. Same as Emmanuel Ayoo.

Pilkington – Public Administration: He branched out early from school but is doing very well. He is studying at Lira University and still lives at HRC although we did not get to see him. He is presently volunteering with the local Lira Town District offices to get experience. He is in year two of a two year Certificate course starting in August 2019 and will want to upgrade to a Diploma course like Haggard is doing.

Stephen Ogwino – Information and Computer Training: Is just finishing his first year and will enter year two in  August 2019. He is doing very well and was taken to Gulu University to compete in some area. He was identified as the best in his field. This is a two year Certificate course but he may specialise in some area as he is very good and it is quite possible that he will seek an extension to his studies from next year. 

Alan Otike – Nursing: Started year two of nursing in January 2020. The training course is 2 1/2 years and he has done 1 1/2 years. He will finish with a Certificate qualification not a Diploma but will be able to register as a nurse at that stage. 

Winnie – Nursing: same as Alan.

Maurice Opio – He is re-sitting Senior 4 O levels and wants to do agriculture. He is working with Ema Ocen and is interested in agriculture. He will have nothing for 8 months until August 2020 when he can join agriculture tertiary so we would only be budgeting for first semester of August - December 2020.

Elvis Ogema – Senior Five but unsure of his performance as yet.  He wants to be an engineer. He appears to be more stable now and doing OK.

Yeko Ocen – Senior Five. Yeko has been doing well at school and, although he is quite quiet, appears to be going along quite well. 

Tom Okello – Senior Five.
The above three are presently unsure and may branch into some tertiary training instead of continuing at school. 

Jen – Senior Four. 

Grinding Mill

We discussed this in detail with both Anna and Simon while we were in Mbale and also subsequently in Lira. In reality they have tried everything that they know to do to get the power connected so that it can start running. The costs needed are approximately:
- Transformer 51m UGX (approx US$13,000)
- An easement over land to get the power cable to the mill building 5m UGX (approx US$1,388)

As far as we can tell there are no other costs involved. We would like to see the mill actually running. If this funding was available it could be done, the transformer in place and operational in two months, according to the letter which Simon has received (and which we have seen). 

We have asked Simon to put a business case to us and update the budget and likely income from the mill so that we can evaluate it again. (This has now been received and is being considered by the BHW Exec. It is a reasonable business case and there will need to be discussion about whether this should be supported and what the reduction in funding to HRC will be, and what time this will take to develop.)


Personal Stories

Emmanuel Ocen

great farmerEma has been doing a considerable amount of agricultural training and we understand that he is excelling in his studies at Mbale. He has definitely caught the vision for farming as an honourable profession and calling. He would like to go on and get an agricultural degree. 

Among other things he is now raising pigs. When we visited he had five breeding females (all named ‘Rose’) and one male breeder. He also had 24 young pigs and one of the females was due any day. In fact that pig also gave birth while we were there and produced 11 piglets. Ema is passionate about farming and it shows. He is teaching some of the other young people from Hope Restoration Centre and while we were there Maurice Opio, who was on holiday from his studies, was helping him.

We are no experts on pigs but what was apparent to us was that the pigs were really healthy and he is keeping the piggery, which is on rented land, immaculate. The structure itself is extremely basic but works. However, the way it was kept inside was really impressive. Ema was also often sleeping in the piggery for added security.

good looking pigsUnfortunately the person who he is renting from (and who also has his own pigs which Ema looks after too) has become jealous and wants the tiny piece of land that he rents back from November. This is a real dilemma for Ema. We suggested moving the piggery to Simon and Anna’s place but because it is in the Senior Quarters of Mbale a piggery is not allowed even though they can and do have numbers of poultry.

Ema is not sure how to address the land issue. There is land available on the outskirts of Mbale but it would have to be purchased and the family is not presently in a position to do that. He wants to send us a business plan even though we have pointed out that Bright Hope World doesn’t assist with land or buildings.  

The land purchase would cost about 50,000,000 UGX (US$13,900) but this would not be the only cost as it would need to be fenced for security. We did wonder, because he is already teaching others, whether there might be some synergy with BHW supporting this in some form on the basis that he will teach and train other people, as he is already doing. Or there may be some other way of supporting him as a trainer. 

We are really impressed with Ema. He works hard, loves his animals, and takes extraordinarily good care of them. Unless he has major setbacks he has a wonderful future as a farmer, and hopefully, a teacher of others. One other thing that impresses us is that he also, when he is able, gives money to Anna or HRC. In effect, even though it is only little, he is giving something back. 

Isaac Ojok

impressive manIsaac Ojok (in pink shirt) really impressed us this time. He is an intern in a local law firm but does not get paid for what he does. While we were with them in Lira the guy who we had paid to drive us up had a minor accident. He ended up in jail overnight even though the police found that he was not at fault for what had happened. Isaac happened to be having a court hearing in Dokolo, the same town, that day and went and met with the local police commander and negotiated the driver’s release. It was very impressive to meet Isaac dressed in a suit and tie, and also to see that he had been able to use his influence to assist our driver in quite a difficult and distressing circumstance. 


Partnership's Influence within the Community

There continue to be a lot of people in the orbit of HRC. When we are there, there are always numerous people visiting or involved. It is hard, however, to quantify actual ‘ influence’ in the community for this part of the partnership. At one level, which needs to be acknowledged, all the children are supported and largely doing well. They would not be in that situation without Bright Hope World’s support. Anna’s own comment is that, without Bright Hope support, the children would be ‘thieves’. It is probably true.

Our comments also have to be read in conjunction with the Gen Obango loan group report (UGA06). The fact that there are so many people wanting to join is a good indicator of ongoing and positive influence. 


Plans for the Future

The children are all growing and over the next few years will pass out of their training and effectively many will move away from HRC and into their own adult lives. We think it is unrealistic to expect them to be able to contribute anything back to HRC, except voluntarily like Ema does, as employment is difficult and often unpaid or paid only at a subsistence level. Also, by the time many of them graduate they will be establishing their own lives and possibly getting married etc. The idea that they contribute back has never been established in this partnership but we can be gratified that BHW’s involvement has produced a quite remarkable group of young people who themselves will likely go on to make a difference in the future world of Uganda. That would not have happened without our involvement.

Our strategy has to be, as we see it, to support the mill to start and make a profit and then reduce the funding to HRC over the next couple of years.


Current Issues and Challenges

Anna does appreciate that the budget is being tightened but it is also causing her a lot of sleepless nights. She really wonders in the current climate whether she can make ends meet. She and Simon are really trying to work out how to develop some income generation but as mentioned above the mill is causing huge frustration.  There are a lot of factors around this, such as:
- massively rising food costs
- significant increases in the costs of education at vocational or tertiary level
- Anna cited that schools are now doing field work, which is not optional, and all of the extra costs have to be met within the budget. For Jen this is 100,000 (US$30), Yeko 150,000 (US$45) and Maurice 100,000 every term. All of these things put a great deal of pressure on.
- The fact that the older children have been able to pursue more academic training than the younger ones
- The fact that some of the young people have left secondary education earlier than expected and ‘branched’ into tertiary or vocational training. This year this relates to Pilkington and Maurice. There may be others but Anna was not sure.

The mill: This is hugely problematic and we have no wisdom about the next steps here. 


Prayer and Praise Points

We are hugely impressed with the calibre of the children as they are maturing and becoming adults and finding their way in the world.  Anna was very frank with us this time. She said simply that, if it were not for Bright Hope World’s support over the years the children would be ‘thieves’ (her words).