“I used to have nothing to do”
Oliver Zola wanted to do more than wash cars and hawk secondhand shoes on the street. But as a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, his options for livelihood were quite limited. Zola learned about our vocational school during English classes at another organization. He didn’t know what welding was and had never handled any power tools before, but he had two important assets: his youth and eagerness to learn.
Pius Okoloi was born and raised in Pallisa, a district in Eastern Uganda, along with his two brothers and three sisters. Both of his parents worked to make ends meet. His father dug (farmed) while his mother taught school. Perhaps having a parent who was a teacher helped; in any case Pius did well in both primary and secondary school, reaching “A” (advanced) level, yet going on to university was not an option. He had no job prospects in the village, and when he was 22 years old his older brothers suggested that...
Mr. Namwanja strode in the school’s gate with his son Allan in tow. It was the second week of school and too late for any new enrollees. He and Allan had been waiting for Opening Day to enroll Allan--but somehow had gotten the date wrong. Because they were our neighbors and Mr. Namwanja was a leader in the community we enrolled Allan as the sixth member of the class of 2019. Allan was seventeen and his older classmates considered him just a kid. He was quite shy, initially reserved, and stammered when he was nervous.