By Anne Mitchell, DIAS Pioneer
The story of Rock Hill School is one of miracle after miracle.
From chance meetings on planes, to the generosity of sponsors, the school now stands with 400+ students. It’s a story of slow but steady progress that has completely changed a village.
Kyampisi is a very poor village. In Uganda, children only go to school if their parents can pay the fees. There were many children for whom education was unattainable, and who spent their days wandering the streets. They were easy targets for unscrupulous witch doctors.
An accountant and pastor, Peter Sewakiryanga, saw the need to get these children off the streets and into school. So he set up a school with volunteer teachers. At the same time, the teachers obtained education training, so that they learned on the job! The school’s income comprised entirely of student sponsorship from overseas supporters – about 20 children were sponsored.
My husband, Geoff, and I visited the school in 2014 and 2015. We had met Peter during a chance meeting on a flight from South Africa back in 2010, and our meeting was just meant to be. We developed a relationship and Peter has become part of our family.
The first time we visited, the school had 229 pupils, and the classrooms were in a hut with a dirt floor and a room in the church. More sponsors came along and others helped fund the skeleton of a new class block. It needed a lot of finishing off and we helped with the cost of those works.
We returned in 2019 and the contrast could not have been greater. DIAS has enabled the classroom block to be completed and house six rooms. The hut was still there but the floor was concrete.There were 400 students, 60 of whom were fee paying boarding students! The kitchen is a much more sturdy structure, with wood stoves, ovens and spacious preparation areas.
Peter felt that the new school wing should be dedicated to my mother, who loved teaching and helping children to read and write. My mother was born in 1923 and lived a long and fruitful life. She was born in Scotland but grew up in Australia and, after finishing school, became a teacher. We unveiled a plaque in honour of Gladys Davidson McGiffin on the last day of our visit there.
Another amazing meeting on a plane with Bruce Campbell, owner of a large business coaching enterprise, has led to more than 130 students being sponsored, and the running costs of the school being secure.
Kyampisi is a completely different place due to KCM’s ministry there, and child sacrifice in that part of Uganda is almost gone. We are proud to be a part of this incredible journey and can’t wait to see what lies ahead for KCM and Rock Hill School.