In Uganda, volunteer communities have come together in numerous ways to create positive change — a cornerstone of civil society. In a small township in the northern part of Kampala, more than 50 volunteers between the ages of 11 and 15 put their hands to work repainting the Kyanja Muslim Nursery School in late April. 

The theme of the activity was engagement with civil society, and the aim of the project was to safeguard the education of 60 young boys and girls who attend the school.

The Kyanja Muslim Nursery School was built about 20 years ago and, with time, had become neglected. The under-resourced school was identified as a project in need, with the assistance of the Aga Khan Foundation East Africa.

In just two days, with the assistance of donors and young volunteers, three classrooms and external parts of the school were painted to provide a fresh look and new hope. Additionally, a new gate was installed, the school grounds were cleared, and the volunteers planted over 100 plants and trees. All building materials, as well as the plants and the trees, were donated by members of the Jamat. The school has undergone substantial visible repairs which will last many years.

As a separate initiative, nine TKN volunteers between the ages of 7 and 10 collected good quality, age-appropriate books from members of the Jamat in Kampala to donate to the school. The TKN initiative, called “Gift of Reading” was under the mentorship of two older volunteers and the idea was to foster improved literacy and a love for reading.

Chairman Ameena Lalani of the Aga Khan Education Board in Uganda said, “What is amazing and makes this initiative so interesting is that, it’s children helping children. And having an understanding and empathy for those in a less fortunate position is also key to a child’s growth and development. Our volunteers understand that giving back doesn’t only help those who we are seeking to serve, it is also something that can directly benefit the volunteers themselves. This year, we are grateful to our volunteers, donors, and the nine very young TKN volunteers with whose support so much has been achieved.”

President of the National Council Minaz Jamal said, “The work done over the Easter weekend with the school and the community, in terms of painting the school, tree plantation at the school, and gifting of 320 books to improve children’s chances in later life is invaluable and we’re proud of our young volunteers who are developing a growing sense of civic responsibility for a better Uganda.”

Earlier in April, to commemorate World Health Day, volunteers from the Aga Khan Health Board and Outreach Portfolio Uganda, in collaboration with the Kibuli Hospital in Kampala, hosted a free medical camp, which is part of a series of outreach events with the Kibuli community.

Approximately 640 local participants benefited from the medical camp this year, which is held annually and fully supported by donors and volunteers from the community. Patients at the event were provided with medication for diabetes, hypertension, allergies, and infections.

Gulzar Hirani, from the Aga Khan Health Board in Uganda, said, “It is critical to screen for non-communicable diseases on a regular basis to have early diagnoses and prevention. With timely interventions most of the diseases can be controlled.”

Nadim Lalani, chairman of the Outreach Portfolio, said, “The camp is supervised by doctors and medical staff, to provide high quality medical facilities to communities in need. This year we had three doctors and 15 health care assistants, including paramedics, on duty. We are committed to returning back again and working with these impoverished communities. In addition to free health camps, we also organise food donation to orphanages as well as Ramadan Iftar dinners.”

President Minaz Jamal said of the medical camp, “The idea is to bring healthcare to the doorstep of people in need. We seek to adopt an environment of care and compassion, that enables us to respond and we regularly provide intervention through such camps and work with Kibuli Hospital and others to make a small difference.”

“The people who benefit from this intervention, do not even have access to basic medical care, and are extremely grateful to receive check-ups and medication. We have also in the past spoken to this community about the benefits of early childhood development. All this is possible with the generosity of our partners and our dedicated volunteers who look after health and outreach matters.”