Assisting a Woodworking Shop in the Rwenzori Mountains, Uganda

Two years ago, I visited the mountain village of Kayrumba, located in the foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains, in southern Uganda.  The instigator of the trip was Hank Pellissier, founder of the Brighter Brains Institute.  One of the organizations that we visited was a fledgling woodworking shop operated by KAAYGO, the Kyarumba Anti-AIDs Youth Group.  The students at the training center were busy using simple hand tools to make a variety of objects, from small trays to large coffins.  The director indicated that the shop was soon scheduled to get electricity.

Crossing the River that Divides Kyarumba

Crossing the River that Divides Kyarumba

By our next visit, 6 months later, electricity had been installed.  We brought with us gifts of a power saw and a power drill.  And explained briefly how they are used.  The group was excited about the expanded possibilities for their workshop.  But several months after this visit, we were notified that the power saw was no longer working and belching smoke.  On inspection, it turned out that the staff, instead of using an extension cord, had poorly spliced an undersized wire into the power saw’s cord.  We had the saw repaired and provided the workshop with an extension cord.

Chrispus Accepting the Power Saw on Behalf of the KAAYGO Workshop

Chrispus Accepting the Power Saw on Behalf of the KAAYGO Workshop

On a subsequent visit, we provided the workshop with a battery-powered circular sander. Battery power provides more mobility and allowed work to continue when the power is out, a frequent occurrence in Uganda.  This tool hasn’t been totally useful.  The   problem is finding sandpaper; a difficulty we are currently working to fix.

On our most recent trip, we provided the workshop with a router and bits.  But more importantly, we determined that the nearby schools had needs that could benefit from the developing skills of the trainees.  Mbusa Chrispus, a co-founder of KAAYGO, developed a list of  potential projects.  The workshop is currently working through the list.  According to Chrispus:

The number of workers and students is increasing at KAAYGO workshop.  From time to time and due to the new innovations, we are now a center of excellence and research to other carpentry projects around Kyarumba and beyond.

The first 2 jobs were fabricating 3-student desks with benches for 2 of the local primary schools.  The next job was constructing an impressive cabinet for one of the school offices.

Desks Fabricated by the KAAYGO Woodworking Shop for Local Primary Schools

Desks Fabricated by the KAAYGO Woodworking Shop for Local Primary Schools

Moving the KAAYGO-made Cabinet to a Local Primary School

Moving the KAAYGO-made Cabinet to a Local Primary School

Most recently, the workshop made 15 benches for the nearby community of Bwera, located on the Congolese border.  Again according to Chrispus:

The project has been so helpful to the carpenters with beneficiary schools and more importantly some community mothers have been engaged in the project to get money for
super meals of their children.

Mother Earning Money for Food at the KAAYGO workshop

Mother Earning Money for Food at the KAAYGO workshop

These projects are fun.  They help the trainees, they help schools, they help mothers, and they stimulate the Kayrumba economy.

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