Can you imagine escaping the Texas summer heat to visit the equator area of Africa might be refreshing? At first thought that might not seem so, but trust me, it is. The weather is breezy, and in the seventies to low eighties each day. You know the weather is good when you can spend all day outside and not even notice it. Every afternoon the light dims in the sky, the smell of rain precedes the shower and the earth is refreshed. Our water tanks are topped up. Yesterday it was a righteous booming thunder and lightning storm. It descended upon us during our mid-day meal. The power shut off, the house went dark and we huddled. The storm lasted long so we powered up the generator and played a new movie for the kids. This trip I brought Beauty and the Beast, BFG, and Pete’s Dragon.
An afternoon movie was welcome after we took the big boys and most of our team over to Musa’s school where he studies auto mechanics for most of the day. They are a ministry more than a school to help get kids who might be on the streets trained in trades so they can earn honest livings. Musa is following a straight path these days and doing so well. He will have his internship in November and then when he completes that he will graduate and find a job. He is seventeen and it will be time for him to graduate our program at Kirabo Seeds when he has completed his training.
We are learning orphan care as we go. There’s no data bank manual on how to do it. I’ve visited enough orphanages in this place to know we should run far from the way they prioritize their care. As we approach this first launch from our nest we have many discussions with our board members and supporters about this transition. We agree to try and customize each child’s steps into independence just as we do for our own children in our families. Our whole US team of seven have emptied their nests. We all agree there is not a once size fits all launch plan. Just because one goes to university doesn’t mean they will have a job. We also agree each child should be counseled, directed, and expected to take a path that leads to a job that enables independent living, a contributing lifestyle to their community and a self-sustainable career path.
Our older children, Angela, Ronnie, Paul, Dickson, Denis, Peter, and Daniel are all academically at the top of their classes in school. This is a testimony to the great tutoring we provide at KS because when they came they brushed the bottom with their grades. Some of them, or all of them may be interested in jobs where they need university. But some might desire work that could be in a trade, and they could start a local business and be very successful. I personally don’t feel every child needs to attend university. I am committed to every child targeting a career that provides a job. We have met too many university graduates that are unemployed here. Not on my watch. That would feel like somewhere along this journey we failed them.
We have interviewed some of the kids about the jobs they want and while they aim high on titles we discover with further investigation that they are clueless about what the work actually is. That’s important to know. For example, an accountant is not a cashier. An engineer is not a mechanic. A politician is not a teacher. It’s natural for people to tell kids what to be: a lawyer, a doctor, an engineer. But it’s also important to teach kids what the work entails.
On Friday we will meet the career counselor at the secondary school. We will task our leaders at KS to invite as many professionals to come visit our children as possible so they can learn what an engineer does all day. They can learn what it takes to be a doctor. They can understand what an entrepreneur needs to do to build a successful business. I believe each child will naturally investigate within themselves to choose wisely as they proceed towards their independence. Just because they are at the top of their class doesn’t mean they should go to university and complete a degree where the job market is full. We must be wise and help guide them towards an earning job where they can grow a successful career.
Of course as we grow Kirabo Seeds and discover ways to be sustainable within Uganda for the ministry to thrive for generations we would hope some of our first graduates would become our best employees and leaders. We can only hope for this outcome, because the children must choose it. We will need accountants, managers, teachers, and entrepreneurs. Thank God we almost have a mechanic because the auto breakdowns are our most frustrating financial drains and it is so difficult to trust any mechanic. When we don’t know about cars they tell us we need all sorts of things we don’t then finally we find ourselves with a car that doesn’t work so they take it off our hands for a few hundred dollars to relieve us. But they then take it and repair it correctly and we might see it on the road better than new. Don’t get me started.
Most of our older kids are around 14 so it is time to explore where they will fit in this society and help them learn all they can about themselves, the work market here, and what God has specifically given them as talents and gifts that they can share with their communities. As we begin career counseling for them if you have some way to help educate them you are welcome to share! It will be so rewarding when we see them launch and use the opportunity they have been given to do good for others.