Meet Twesigye Jackson Kaguri — A man of vision and action
Ugandan founder of HIV/AIDS orphans school will be in Portsmouth for book signing
Ann L. Hopkins
For more information on book and author appearances elsewhere, click on the cover photo.
Twesigye Jackson Kaguri will be coming to New Hampshire in June, and I encourage you to meet him. On the evening of Friday, June 25, at RiverRun Bookstore at 7 p.m., Jackson will sign copies of THE PRICE OF STONES: Building a School for My Village
(Viking), which will be hot off the press on June 14. His story tells of his life and his life’s work on behalf of the Nyaka AIDS orphans and of the schools and organization he has built in his hometown district in southwestern Uganda. President Jimmy Carter calls it "an inspiring account of turning tragedy into hope for others."
Last fall I spent eight days as a guest and volunteer at the Nyaka AIDS Orphan Project (NAOP) schools. A colleague invited me to join her on a visit to the schools and programs of Nyaka. Africa had been on my travel list for a long time, and I was thrilled to join her on this special journey.
During my week at Nyaka I sat in on several classes and participated in school activities at both the Nyaka and Kutamba Primary Schools.
Ann Hopkins visits with students at Kutamba School in southwestern Uganda. (Tory Dietel Hopps photo)
Singing, dancing and drumming are daily practices along with academic studies.(Ann L. Hopkins photo)
One of the promises of graduating from Nyaka is a scholarship to secondary school. All 26 of the 2009 Nyaka graduates passed their national exams and have gone on to secondary schools; it is a tremendous accomplishment.
The farm is part of the Nyaka model and key to the sustainability of the schools as an income-producing enterprise and a center for the vocational training. (Ann L. Hopkins photo)
On one beautiful sunny afternoon during my visit school recess was at full tilt. Several kinds of ball games were underway. Chatter filled the air from one end of the schoolyard to the other. A Frisbee floated by my head, and I caught it. Before I knew it, I had five of them sailing towards me.
“Teacha, teacha,” one child after another called to me as he or she flung the Frisbee my way. I did my best to catch as many as possible and throw them judiciously to everyone in the game. I was running all over the place, and we all had a good laugh. What an honor to be there with them sharing this moment of joy and fun.
Many of the students at Nyaka are “double orphans” and live with other family members or guardians.
Grandmothers are the largest population of caregivers. During our stay, we visited with four groups of NAOP grandmothers. Each visit began with prayer, song and dance. They welcomed us and spoke about their work to help each other and their grandchildren.
Grandmothers dress in a beautiful array of fabrics, and their faces tell stories of their own. (Ann L. Hopkins photo)
Jackson’s vision is a holistic one and includes free education for the AIDS orphans through secondary school; support for the grandmothers and families — kitchens, latrines, microfinance loans, community development, including the newly opened Blue Lupin Community Library and a clean gravity-fed water system; and community health and education programs — HIV/AIDS education and outreach, the farm and vocational training, nutrition and community gardens.
You’ll have to read Jackson’s book to get the whole story. Thomas Edison said, “What you are will show in what you do.” I already know Twesigye Jackson Kaguri is a man of vision and action. You will be able to see for yourself at the 20 Congress Street bookstore in downtown Portsmouth.
(For more information about Nyaka go to www.nyakaschool.org
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