So here we are at Alice's Sewing School - which consists of a large classroom, a shop, an office, Alice's bedroom, a store room, and 3 dormitory rooms for boarders. It was 2009 when Alice first told me of her dream for a new school. I had been admiring the "Alice bags" she made, and told her that if she would keep making the bags, I would keep selling them in Canada, with all the proceeds going to her school. Before I left Uganda that year, she had sent 92 bags to me by boda-boda. And they kept coming, and they kept selling. One enterprising young woman sold nearly $1000 worth of bags at her school two years running. A number of you - you know who you are - in Fredericton, Winnipeg, Kelowna, and other communities, sold them. Many of you bought them when I was teaching at yourGuilds. And others of you gave straight donations. And this is the result. Unbelievable!
But more than the building itself is what goes on in the school. Here is this year's class photographed with Alice - twelve students, mostly 18 or 19, all of whom are just finishing up her one year training program. Four of the students were sponsored by Quilt Guilds in the lower mainland of BC, and on this visit we transported the sewing machines up to Rubingo, which will be presented to them on graduation. Thanks to Debbie Burwash and friends from Saskatchewan, we also had the great honor of presenting Alice with funds for 5 more sponsored students, all of whom will start in January, all of whom will receive a sewing machine upon graduation. Most of these girls only finished P7 in school(no secondary school), but with this training, they are able to earn an income. The four who were sponsored were all orphans, who would have been destitute without this training. And each of these 12 will probably end up supporting another 10-12 people, as well as contributing to their communities. So quite an impact from this investment in the lives of these young women. No wonder they're looking so happy!
And in case you've forgotten where we started, here's Alice's old school, where students sat on the ground outside under the covered area, stitching their samples from heavy paper which came from cement bags. Alice hopes to increase her enrollment up to 20 students, with up to 9 boarders (3 are boarders right now), and I have no doubt she will accomplish this, and that her school will be known all around as best place to go to learn to sew.