The First Years: 1994-1999
In 1994, while Caroline Nakayenga was visiting Uganda, she was called to the home of a dying widow who asked her to look after her five children. Caroline came back to Ottawa to share the widow’s plea with friends.
In the first years, the volunteer Canadian Board of CANHAVE CHILDREN’S CENTRE INC. fund raised to support the children’s education and basic needs. A volunteer Ugandan Coordinator managed the children’s program and kept expenses to a minimum, by using a bicycle and public transport, although the children were spread out in a number of communities. From 1995 until 2006, the number of children CANHAVE supported increased by about five each year. The annual expenditures amounted to approximately $7000.00.
The Middle Years: 2000-2004
Gradually, schools and church groups in the Outouais region became interested in CANHAVE and raised money for special projects requested by the primary schools that the children attended. In some cases these were matching grants; in other cases, the full amount was paid by the donor(s). In these years, a number of the older children left school, making room for new children. The Ugandan Board took on more responsibility and registered as a Community-Based Organization (CBO). The annual operating budget continued to be less than $10,000.
Through letters from the school leavers, the Canadian Board became aware of their difficulty in finding work to maintain the family. They continued to hold responsibility for their siblings (as they were still orphans) but they were not able to find jobs without further training. They requested continued support for skills development through trade and vocational training. They made a case for building a trade school for CANHAVE school leavers. This became a reality when Brother Vincent gave CANHAVE CHILDREN’S CENTRE seven acres of land in Kisubi in 2005.
With the challenge of additional children and the plan to build on the donated property, fundraising included an annual fundraising dinner to raise the funds needed and to reach a larger number of donors.
More fundraising opportunities have been developed to raise funds along with informal, personal approaches to individuals who have graciously contributed towards our goal. For example, a van was bought and is maintained by an anonymous donor each year. Funds to complete the construction of the building and purchase the necessary tools, furnishings and equipment are still being raised. A well has improved access to fresh water for the Vocational School and community alike.
Through hard work and dedication the CANHAVE Vocational School opened officially in February 2008 and the first classes were held in October 2008.
Since 2008, CANHAVE has supported 60 orphans in primary and secondary schools; some CANHAVE students attend the Vocational School in Kisubi and others are at university or post-secondary institutions. At Kisubi they take classes in carpentry and joinery; sewing and tailoring; hairdressing and beauty; catering and hotel management; fish farming and farming; computers.
A capital campaign secured funding for a permanent girls’ dormitory which is now being built under professional supervision. A fence and a well have been completed. Improved water harvesting systems, latrines and washing facilities are part of the ongoing development of the property.
In Uganda, volunteer commitment has also increased. Members of the Ugandan Board of Trustees give generously of their time and talents. Volunteer boards of directors worked with the administrators of the Children’s Programme and the Vocational School Programme. All report to the Ugandan Board of Trustees.
In the fall of 2023, the Ugandan Board of Trustees arrived at the decision to close the vocational school, owing to a decline in enrolment, and, more importantly, the change in educational policy in Uganda which has now mandated that vocational skills training be incorporated into secondary schools. The children’s program continues, with some 87 children presently supported in the primary and secondary levels.