The Full Story
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 he come to Kampala to look for employment. One of his brothers knew Timothy, an instructor at the SALT vocational school, and enrolled Puis as a student in May 2019.
Pius had never done any welding or metal fabrication before but learned quickly in school. Those who are good with their hands ride high in the eyes of their fellow students and even the instructors. Pius’s proficiency in TIG, the most difficult welding process of them all, was exceptional.
As he neared the end of the course in December 2019, he went for an interview at Blue Ocean, a small, local company of 20 employees specializing in stainless steel. After graduating, he was accepted for a three week internship after which he was offered a full time salaried position. Though he is new to the company Pius has gained a lot of praise for his expertise as a welder. He primarily welds stainless steel equipment for milk bottling companies, breweries, and a sugar processing factory, but also welds some mild steel fabrication projects and smaller repair jobs of aluminum.
Puis still needs more experience and capital and so plans to work as an employee for the indefinite future. His dream, however, is to get enough start-up capital to employ himself in his own stainless steel workshop. He says of his time at vocational school, “Most people in Uganda lack practical skills. What I’ve gotten from the school gives me hope.