|St. Paul KAASO (Kabira Adult Attention & School for Orphans) is a unique community project in Uganda that provides education and mentorship to orphans in one of the areas hardest-hit by the HIV/AIDS crisis. KAASO is first and foremost a primary school, but relies on an interconnected network of community initiatives to keep the school running and the level of education high.|
The school’s motto – “Invest in Education” – not only applies to the children, but also the adults of the community. KAASO’s ultimate goal is to empower people, both young and old, to enable them to follow their dreams and realise their full potential.
The Rakai district, where KAASO is located, was one of the regions hit hardest by the HIV/AIDS crisis, leaving a devastating trail of child-headed families in its wake. Grandparents were left to care for dozens of orphaned grandchildren and the community struggled to cope. One couple decided to do something about it.
In 1999, Dominic and Rose Mukwaya created St Paul KAASO Primary School to enable young orphans to get a decent education – at no cost. The school began with just 12 children and by the end of the first year there were 49 students.
Classes were taught in a thatched roof hut and resources were extremely limited, but Dominic and Rose persevered. Their mission was to ensure that even those unable to pay school fees would get the education they deserved. Over time, KAASO’s reputation spread and parents wanted to send their children to the school. In order to be sustainable, Dominic and Rose agreed to take in these fee-paying students, helping to boost the school’s income and supplement the orphans.
Today, KAASO educates over 600 primary school children every year, charging fees only to those who can afford to pay and supporting those who cannot, with a whole raft of students in the middle whose families offer food or services in return for their child’s education. As one of the top schools in the district, KAASO provides a high level of education and academic excellence not commonly available to those unable to pay school fees. Thanks to KAASO, students who would otherwise have struggled to go to school now have a truly bright future.
Who can volunteer
KAASO has been welcoming volunteers since 2006 - and many of those volunteers have come back again and again. Volunteering at KAASO is not just a one-off experience, it is to become part of a unique community, a school and a family. You simply cannot come to KAASO and not be moved by the spirit, tenacity, determination and hope of the people. It is an experience that will stay with you for the rest of your life.
We invite self-motivated, forward-thinkers with open minds to KAASO. Your duties will not be handed to you - there is no set format, no text book. With respect, empathy, and personal motivation, you can find your own unique way to make a difference.
There are a wide range of areas you can get involved in at KAASO:
Teaching: English, Maths, Computers, Science, Social Studies. Whatever you specialise in!
Skilled work: We need carpenters, plumbers, electricians, agricultural specialists, vets, nurses, doctors, dentists.
Teacher Education: We invite education professionals to help train and upskill our teachers.
Childcare: Assist the school matrons in taking care of younger students.
Sports, Music, Art: If you love any of these – come teach them. No formal training required.
Library & Computer Lab: Teach computers to both students and teachers. Organise the library and encourage students to read.
Community Entrepreneurship: Come help inspire and create projects that will empower the community.
Just show up: Sing a song, read a book, play a game. The children will be so happy to just spend time with you!
What to expect
KAASO is not just a primary school, but a full community initiative. The school remains self-sustaining thanks to a variety of projects that also educate and empower the community. Children and adults alike are taught not only how to read and write but also how to grow crops, rear pigs, save money and invest in income-generating projects with loans from community micro finance funds.
It takes a village to educate a child - but it also takes a school to educate a village.
The project is run by Dominic and Rose Mukwaya, both local Ugandans who established KAASO in 1999. KAASO is not just a school or a volunteer project, it’s truly a family. The staff, teachers, children, volunteers and the wider community all work together to make KAASO what it is.
The volunteer coordinator is Emma Outteridge, a New Zealander who now lives in Bermuda. Emma first volunteered at KAASO for six months in 2009 and now goes back every year to catch up with the KAASO community and oversee the Kiwi Sponsorships programme and Suubi Sanyu microloans fund she runs.
During your time at KAASO, you’ll be living in the volunteer house. The house has solar power in the evenings for lights and charging devices.
All meals are provided and you will eat within the school grounds with Dominic and Rose at their house. Breakfast is casual and usually around 9am. Lunch and dinner are more substantial and served around 1pm and 9pm. The village of Kabira is just across the road and has basic supplies.
With limited connectivity to the outside world, we encourage you to bring books for the evenings, or spend them teaching classes or just hanging out with the children and the KAASO family.
Accommodation & Food cost
One of the best things about volunteering at KAASO is that there are no administrative costs. KAASO is dedicated to putting all money possible toward supporting education. To that end, we charge minimal fees which cover volunteers' food and board, and in the first 3 months, include a built-in donation to the project of your choice at the school.
Under 3 weeks: USD $250
1st month: USD $350
2nd month: USD $250
3rd month: USD $150
Subsequent months: USD $100
Airport Transfer (each way): USD $100
KAASO is located in Kabira, a small village in the Rakai District in Uganda's Central Region, not far north of the Tanzanian border. It is about 3 hours south of Kampala and around 4 hours from Entebbe International Airport. The nearest town is Kyotera, about 20 minutes by car along a dirt road.
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