PIC: The national director of the SOS Children Villages in Uganda, Olive Lumonya, (centre) introducing the president of Victoria Village Children’s Services Limited Canada Farid Amarshi (left) to the chairperson of the Mothers Forums Goreti Nansera, who looks after the children at the SOS Children’s Village Kakiri sub-county in Wakiso district 16 March 2018. Amarshi was one of the Indians expelled by President Idi Amin in 1972, now living in Canada. He would like to support childhood education in Uganda. (Credit: Wilfred Sanya)
EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION
KAMPALA – Indians who were expelled by President Idi Amin in 1972 and are now living in Canada have pledged to support the early childhood education programme started by government last year.
They made the pledge on Friday during a tour of schools in Wakiso district.
“Uganda remains our country even though we live in Canada. We have come to support Early Childhood Education (ECD), which is a major foundation for a child’s growth,” Farid Amarsh, the head of the Victoria Village Children’s service in Canada, said.
Amarsh said they were ready to work with the Government to support ECD.
Amarsh said ECD is key to a child’s life and that the children who do not go through it, miss out on the crucial childhood development.
In 1972, Amin expelled Indians from Uganda and gave them 90 days to leave the country. Over 700 fled to Canada and a big number went to Britain as refugees.
Amarsh revealed that he was born in Masaka 67 years ago and at the age of 21, while he was a student at Makerere University, they were expelled.
He noted that he became a refugee in Britain, where he completed his studies.
“By the time we were expelled, I was studying a bachelor of commerce. While in Britain, I was supported by one of my elder brother and after completing my studies, I became a United Nations refugee officer in Italy and I was later transferred to Canada,” he said.
When asked why they took up the initiative of supporting the ECD programme, he disclosed that while in Canada, he was an accountant and his wife was an early childhood educator.
“As we progressed, we went into the childhood industry and for the last 34 years, we have been fortunate to have established 34 child centres and two private schools in Canada,” he explained.
Amarsh stressed that as experts in ECD, they chose this to be another way of giving back to the children of Uganda.
He said when they came to learn about the activities of SOS children’s villages in Canada, they formed a private partnership and agreed to come to Uganda to support the children here.
“We got to know that SOS already had structures in Uganda, which we would work with. We intend work with the education ministry to see how we can equip children with ECD skills,” Amarsh said.
He said he was overwhelmed with nostalgia on arrival at Entebbe airport as the plane touched Ugandan soil. He remembered the local foods such as matooke, groundnut, stew, grasshoppers, and the Ugandan hospitality.
The national director of the SOS Children Villages in Uganda, Olive Lumonya, said supporting the ECD was a positive move, which was already a key government project.
“We are grateful to welcome you to join us in supporting the children, which is the same role we play to support the children at SOS. As partners, are going not only to support SOS, but also the communities out there,” Lumonya said.
She said SOS would engage the Government and explore how ECD can be supported countrywide. She hailed Amarsh for the people-centred gesture.
“It is pleasurable to see that Ugandans are coming out to support their country by giving back to the communities, despite the manner they left the country,” Lumonya said.
The senior education officer pre-primary education at the education ministry, Safia Mutumba, explained the importance of ECD, saying it is to develop the child before they start primary education.
Mutumba said ECD was the beginning of the child’s education, without which the child may not succeed at the higher level.
“With ECD, children learn how to communicate and socialise. We face a number of problems because our people missed out that stage so we call on parents to bring the children to attend ECD,” Mulumba said.
She encouraged parents to bring their children to attend ECD, through playing children.
Mulumba, however, urged parents to provide their children food as they take them to school.