Progressive enterprise options revive a struggling college devoted to educating girls in rural Uganda
Victoria Nyanjura was 14 years outdated when she was kidnapped by the Lord’s Resistance Military from her college, Saint Mary’s Faculty, in Aboke in northern Uganda. That evening in October 1996, troopers kidnapped 139 women, earlier than one of many college nuns persuaded the captors to set some free. Nyanjura was not among the many fortunate ones. As a substitute, she would spend eight years as a captive within the infamous Joseph Kony’s violent cult. She can be assigned as a spouse to a insurgent commander and have two youngsters.
Practically eight years later, within the chaos of a botched assault, she escaped into the evening along with her toddler and toddler. She was finally found by authorities troops and returned to her household.
However escape wasn’t a contented ending — it was just the start. Nyanjura needed to rebuild a life, and that life would look totally different from what she envisioned at 14.
“I assumed I might grow to be an engineer, however that dream obtained shot,” she says. Nonetheless, she believed college would supply alternatives to heal and begin contemporary. She enrolled at Kyambogo College in Kampala and began programs in humanities. She graduated and joined an area nongovernmental group to work with different girls transitioning from captivity. There, she met interns and alumni from Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for Worldwide Peace Research who inspired her to use to the graduate program.
She utilized to hitch the 2018 cohort for the graduate diploma in worldwide peace research. In 2020, Nyanjura returned to Uganda, an official alumna from the College of Notre Dame. She began Ladies in Motion for Ladies, an initiative centered on feminine financial empowerment, however then Notre Dame professor Wendy Angst got here knocking.
Wendy Angst joined the Mendoza Faculty of Enterprise in 2010 the place she teaches programs in entrepreneurship, consulting and innovation.
“Coming from business, I’ve all the time valued experiential studying initiatives as part of my instructing. So after I started instructing innovation and design considering, we might do initiatives with a spread of various organizations, from Fortune 500 firms to native nonprofits,” she explains. “The initiatives had been all the time structured across the college students doing hands-on work, collaborating with the consumer, after which going to the consumer website and presenting the advice, after which the venture would finish.”
In December 2019, she was at a gathering for the Pulte Institute for International Growth, the place she had lately been named a fellow, when somebody talked about a faculty in Uganda, Saint Bakhita’s Vocational Coaching Heart, that was struggling to outline its future and wished Notre Dame’s help. Angst jumped on the thought and shortly designed her spring 2020 course round Saint Bakhita’s request.
“We started the innovation and design class in spring of 2020 saying, how may we reimagine vocational schooling for ladies in northern Uganda?” Angst explains. She and the scholars began brainstorming and doing preliminary analysis, with the intention of a full immersion and ethnographic analysis throughout spring break. In March, Angst and 12 undergraduates boarded a sequence of flights that took them to Kalongo. There, actuality hit.
“We arrived on the bottom and … we realized that all the things we had learn had not ready us for simply what excessive stage of poverty this group is in. The typical earnings right here is simply over a greenback a day. And this area of Uganda was proper in the course of the Lord’s Resistance Military battle. The college was based in 2007 for ladies that had been kidnapped, however now all of those years later, these can be the daughters of women,” Angst says.
“We arrived on the bottom and … we realized that all the things we had learn had not ready us for simply what excessive stage of poverty this group is in.”
The college, named for the patron saint of human trafficking, provides programs in tailoring, agriculture, hospitality, catering and data know-how. However in 2020, it had solely 10 remaining college students, so Angst had to determine why.
“A part of what we had been studying is that households oftentimes don’t perceive the worth of a woman getting an schooling. The ladies have a giant function to play in serving to elevate youngsters, fetch water, help with subsistence farming and different family duties. The opposite essential piece is that the households don’t have the funds for to ship their youngsters to high school, and once they do, the schooling of their sons is prioritized over that of their daughters,” she explains. “We returned from that have and reframed our work saying, how may we give these women a possibility at a greater life and the way may we assist with the financial prosperity of this area?”
Simply days after returning to the U.S., the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The Notre Dame campus closed and so did Saint Bakhita’s college. However Angst wasted no time; with generosity from the Pulido-Walker Basis, she spearheaded efforts to refresh the entire Saint Bakhita buildings with repairs, new roofs and contemporary coats of paint, to put in 80 photo voltaic panels to energy the varsity and to construct hand-washing stations to mitigate COVID. The donors additionally gifted a 40-station laptop lab to facilitate ongoing collaboration between college students at Saint Bakhita’s and college students at Notre Dame.
The Notre Dame undergraduates stored working, too. Angst cut up her two courses into 12 groups, who would every formulate an thought that might assist finance the varsity and assist the local people. One thought — the planting of charcoal timber, which might be harvested for gas, and fruit timber, to function extra sources of meals and earnings for the varsity — provided a further advantage of mitigating Uganda’s deforestation disaster. With the assistance of crowdfunding, Saint Bakhita’s planted 20,000 seedlings in Might 2021 at their aptly named Innovation Acres. Angst estimates that after mature, the timber must also generate substantial income to offset operational prices for the varsity.
Previously, Angst had modified her Innovation and Design course companion group every semester, however with Saint Bakhita’s she wished to construct a long-lasting relationship with lasting affect, giving Notre Dame college students the chance to construct their concepts and put them into motion. She determined that every semester she would supply a special approach of participating with the varsity and group.
The category skyrocketed in recognition, so Angst additionally launched a membership in an analogous mannequin, Innovation for Influence, which boasts 150 members. College students within the membership work on entrepreneurial concepts like Bakhita Butter, a diffusion produced from floor nuts; an web café for the group, run by the catering college students; and an e-commerce website that sells clothes made by the tailoring college students. A few of these garments can even be accessible on the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore. The undergraduates additionally launched a weekly e-tutoring program with the Saint Bakhita’s college students.
The Pulido-Walker Basis additionally agreed to help tuition within the type of a work-study mannequin for 78 Innovation Students, ranging in age from 15 to 26. Of these, 65 % have already got youngsters, which led to the creation of a dorm for nursing mothers.
As Saint Bakhita’s Vocational Coaching Heart gained momentum, Angst wanted a brand new head of college, so she referred to as Nyanjura.
Nyanjura was reluctant. She had simply began her personal initiative and was settled in Gulu. However Angst spoke with such love of Saint Bakhita’s that it was contagious. Nyanjura went to go to and located herself enraptured by the spirit of the place.
“She’s good at persuasion,” Nyanjura laughs. “She simply made it like that is what we will do collectively.”
Collectively, Nyanjura and Angst are highly effective and unafraid of lofty ambitions. They’ve set three main targets: the varsity can be self-sustaining inside 5 years, it can grow to be among the many high vocational colleges in Uganda and it’ll assist garner financial prosperity within the area.
It’s early, however indicators level to a optimistic trajectory. Nyanjura notes that the true collaborative effort is how and why the progress has been so optimistic.
“One factor I like in regards to the collaboration with Notre Dame is that it hasn’t been imposed, what you need us to do … each time, it’s an interplay,” Nyanjura says. “We work together, get widespread floor after which implement accordingly, so everyone seems to be studying within the course of, and all of us transfer on the similar tempo.”
She hopes they’re instilling that spirit of collaboration, and a need to do good, into the scholars as effectively.
“We’re a household. We’re doing it collectively,” Nyanjura says. “Our hope is that even these younger moms don’t depart it inside themselves, however they’ve to increase it to their households, their communities.”
She picked up that mission to be a channel for good from her time at Notre Dame, she says. Now she hopes she will go that alongside.
“Notre Dame actually prepares you to do good. You see it, you take a look at it, and you are feeling that you must supply it on the market.”