How It Began
The Bwindi children’s orphanage and school was founded in 2013 by Francis Byamukama, a professional teacher and social worker.
Francis’ parents were too poor to send any of their 10 children to school, so when Francis was nine years old, his uncle, a retired teacher, agreed to send him to school in exchange for labor during the evenings and weekends. Francis completed primary school and at the age of 24, qualified as a grade 3 teacher and was appointed by the government as an Education Assistant (2).
While teaching at Kanyashande, Francis observed a number of children who would come to school on an empty stomach, with no book or pencil, no uniform and such kids would be dozing while conducting the lesson.
The same kids would frequently be sent home due to the lack of payment for school fees, and their performance at the end of the term would often be poor regardless of how bright they were.
Having been down a similar road, Francis visited the children at their homes and witnessed a number of challenges these children and their families faced.
The biggest problem was poverty.
Francis had the desire to help, but as a schoolteacher with a meager salary and the current load of his siblings’ school tuition and fees, he was not in a position to be of much help to so many in need.
Considering the problems so many families in the region faced, Francis decided to pursue a three-year bachelors degree in social work and social administration. He completed his studies and graduated as a social worker, and returned to start a program to help all the needy children in his community attend school.
In 2013 he successfully registered a community-based organization in the name of Bwindi Eco Children Uganda.
He was able to rent an office and a two-roomed house where he opened doors for the first 27 children to live.
With some community support, Francis was able to start a private school where orphans and vulnerable children and other needy children from the neighborhood could receive a free education.
“In July 2013 we constructed a two-roomed shed-like building, in which one volunteer teacher and I started teaching the 27 children living in the orphanage, along with other children from the neighborhood. Since then we have gained trust from parents/guardians who have continued sending us their children.“ Francis said.
Today BECU has transformed into a growing children’s home and education center providing support, protection and full-time residential care to 67+ orphans and vulnerable children and education to 420+ children.
This institution currently has three caretakers, 14 teachers, one vocational instructor, three cooks, and two watchmen. With donations and local contributions the institution now has electricity, water, a girls’ dormitory, eight permanent classes, and clean toilets. The children are fed three nutritious meals daily.