I can't believe it is December. It was only this summer when I gallivanted along Uganda's Nile to visit Yana Community High School and our partner CEP for the first time. As I reminisce on the fond memories of friendships forged and wonders witnessed, I aim to share some glimpses into the critical work of Tusubira - We Have Hope.
Today's message of hope is about land. I currently am reading a phenomenal book called Why Nations Fail, and in this book the connections between property and land are unraveled. While I continue to better understand the history and economics of land, I don't need intellect to know that the reality for so many Ugandan communities is one shackled to poverty. In a country where most people are subsistence farmers the most precious resource is land, yet as Uganda's economy continues to grow for some, those in rural communities like Nawanende are starting to be left behind.
When I visited in July I passed miles of sugarcane fields. Yes, this is a great development, as it brings jobs, infrastructure, and attention to Nawanende. But unfortunately, the rise of sugarcane has also brought a vicious increase in property values far beyond what cash-strapped communities members can keep up with. As a New Yorker in a city where every day rent seems to rise I can relate, but I have the privilege of a middle class job, legal protections, and the freedom to move if I want. For our partners in Nawanende the shifting economics of property are only worsening an already dire impoverishment.
Fortunately, Yana CHS has a bright future ahead thanks to the tireless efforts of our partners on the ground led by Robert Kalulu. Robert is seen in the video above pleading the case for why our community school needs more land. It is an urgent situation. His hard work has paid off and now CEP is in the works to acquire a larger plot of land for Yana CHS. My visit showed me how important it was for more land. The picture below shows how limited the land is with a barely functioning kitchen next to cramped classrooms.
Finally with a permanent home in this agreement, Yana CHS will be able to thrive. The foundations of a bright future were already being built and now with an even more solid one, the future for Nawanende's youth is electrifying.