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8 Friends First staff recently traveled to Uganda to open a new IT learning centre with Nurture Africa. Nurture Africa is one of Lessons for Life’s main partners. Their aim is to harness the power of technology and innovation to connect remote or vulnerable communities to learning.
Friends First fully funded and assisted in the fit out of the IT learning centre. A huge effort was put in by all volunteers to design the centre, evaluate the training requirements and raise the money required to build and furnish the centre.
The centre was dedicated to our colleague, Paul Kinsella, a Friends First staff member who passed away in 2015.
Preparation for the construction and launch of the centre began earlier in the year. Friends First were hugely involved in the building and fit out and in evaluating all the equipment requirements. The volunteers attended classes to create comprehensive teaching manuals and lesson plans prior to their arrival. They also ran a number of fundraising events and all donations received were matched by Friends First and went directly toward paying to construct and fit out the IT learning centre.
Regular liaisons with Nurture Africa ensured that the project remained on track and the centre met the needs of the charity and the local children and adults who would be using it.
The volunteer group were able to begin teaching classes as soon as they arrived in Uganda. Classes ran from Monday to Friday for 2 weeks and began at 8am every morning and continued throughout the day until 5pm and often later.
The classes were given to three separate groups;
Although none of the group had any formal teaching experience, their enthusiasm and hard work made the classes very successful. Some of the students had previously never used a computer but by the end of the two weeks they were giving Microsoft PowerPoint presentations, using Microsoft Excel, writing letters in Microsoft Word and having Skype calls back to Ireland. Working with the students every day meant the Friends First volunteers got to know them very well and made friendships that will last a lifetime.
The volunteer group also had the opportunity to visit local schools, families and businesses who use the services provided by Nurture Africa. The Ugandan people were hugely appreciative of the help given to them and extremely eager to learn. This made the job enjoyable and unbelievably rewarding. It truly was a once in a lifetime experience for all eight of the volunteers and it is safe to say that the memories created will last a lifetime.
Lessons for Life is one of three charity partners supported by Friends First. Other partners include the Irish Cancer Society and Aware. The aim of the partnership is to promote mutually beneficial engagement and support between the charity and Friends First, which includes fund raising and staff volunteering to work with the selected charities.
Learn more about the education projects supported by Lessons for Life.
Friends First believes that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is not just a function or department but a philosophy integrated into our company. It is how we operate our business and stems directly from our core values.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all involved with the trip to Uganda.
“The visit to Uganda was an unforgettable experience. The learning centre is something that will hopefully make a change, offering opportunities to a lot of Ugandan people. It gave a huge sense of achievement and pride for those of us who were lucky enough to be involved.”
“The whole trip to Uganda was an amazing experience. I really enjoyed living in the community and teaching IT skills to the locals on a day-to-day basis. Everyone I taught and spoke to was very grateful for the IT centre that Friends First had raised funds for. They were also very grateful for us travelling to Uganda to teach IT skills, which they would not have had the chance to learn otherwise. With such a low number of pupils making it to secondary school from primary school, the IT centre will be a valuable tool in educating the community. With this in mind, from the fundraising to the trip itself, I feel very proud of what all eight of us who went to Uganda, and Friends First as a company, have achieved.”
“A once-in-a-lifetime, positive experience which I will carry with me for the rest of my days.”
“It’s hard to put into words how amazing our experience in Uganda was. Every day was so rewarding and I loved every minute of being there. I feel so lucky to have had the chance to take part in the volunteer programme and to have been involved in such a successful project.”
“I found a little piece of Heaven on earth as I walked through the gates of Nurture Africa every day.
We are blessed to have done something unique and to know we all made a difference in people’s lives in Uganda, and they have made a difference in ours. I am so happy to have been part of an amazing team of people here who have now become friends. We will always have a unique bond because of what we made happen together. A very special time and I will always have happy memories.”