Access to receiving an education is an incredibly important aspect of breaking the cycle of poverty. However, what happens when a child or young adult has other skills or giftings that are stronger than their abilities in a classroom?
Cirus is an 18 year old, living in a village called Budebero, located in the Nabukalu community of Uganda. He was born in one of the most impoverished families in his community. Overwhelmed by the weight of providing for his family’s needs, Cirus’s father left when Cirus was 10 years old. His mother, Namubiru, was left to care for her four children as a single mother. She worked in agriculture, but even though she is a hard worker, her wages were not enough to pay for food, basic medical care, or clothing for her children. With all these other pressing needs, education was out of the question.
Cirus began attending the Nabukalu CarePoint and received nutritional, medical, emotional, and educational support. Finally, he was able to attend school!
Cirus worked hard in his classes, trying his best in every subject. Although he studied and tried paying attention in his classes, the weight of his home life was often distracting and interfered with his performance on tests. It was difficult to separate his thoughts about his family’s situation from his ability to concentrate or memorize important information for classes. Early in 2018, he was in grade six; however, at 18 years old most children his age had completed senior four.
He tried his best, but failed the grade seven entrance exam.
Cirus opened up to the Nabukalu CarePoint staff about his disappointment and concern for his future. During their conversation, the staff advised him to think about what vocational course he would enjoy as a hands on skill to learn. Cirus decided on motor vehicle mechanics and driving, which he began studying immediately.
He surprised everyone with an excellent performance in his first course and earned an “A” on his first course exam!
His instructors joyfully shared with Nabukalu staff that Cirus was incredibly smart at learning hands on skills. When asked about this exciting new chapter, Cirus attributed the advancement in his life to the advice and mentorship offered to him by CarePoint staff.
Cirus shared, “My classmates laughed at me always, saying that I am dense. But CarePoint staff always encouraged me to work harder, which I did but I still failed. I felt embarrassed studying with young kids in the same class. They would make fun of me, that am too old for their class. Never did I ever think of dropping out of school amid various forces in my life.
I chose to join the vocational training course in motor vehicle mechanics as advised by my mentors. I am surprised with my own excellent performance in this course! I have learned that dull children in class are not dull in every aspect of life. I am dull in class but excellent in practical skills. I am excited in doing what am good at, and that is mechanics. I hope my testimony will encourage other children who are discouraged with education because of poor class performance.”
Like Cirus, there are many children and youth who find school exceptionally difficult, but have other wonderful and unique skills and giftings that can help them become more self-sustaining. In the 1980’s Howard Gardner, a developmental psychologist, proposed the theory of multiple intelligences. This theory states that there are numerous ways that a person can be intelligent, besides what some would call being “book smart.” CarePoint staff take the time to understand each child and young adult’s story and to explore where their potential could be unlocked.
Focusing young people on only formal education poses a risk of them missing out on learning employable trade skills, marketable talents, access to markets, and business acumen. HopeChest provides opportunities for youth, like Cirus, to explore what they are interested in to connect them to skills and work that they find meaningful.
If you are interested in empowering more young men and women in Uganda, like Cirus, to succeed through learning hands on skills, you can learn more, here.