A Short Interview With Irene Jacobsen

Irene Jacobsen  

“Toil and Acchieve”, “Learn, Apply, Proceed”

(Deutsche Version)

lyrx Publishing: Hello and welcome to lyrx Publishing, the publishing platform for anybody and anything! Please present yourself! How did it happen? How did you get involved in a school project im Uganda?

Hello! I am Irene. In 1995 I got a scholarship to work in a village in Central Uganda as an occupational therapist. Our job was to deal with kids with special needs.

The project was on the compound of Kalasa Primary. The teachers helped us a lot. We stayed in contact for the following years and funded university for a few of the teachers’ kids.

We (another scholarship holder – Silke- and I) stayed in contact for the following years with our colleagues, helping a few kids to go to university.

One of them was Ronald Mulondo. He became a University lecturer educating Secondary Teachers. In 2009 he won a peace of land in a Radio Quiz-Show. He started his school with self-made bricks and a loan.

Of cours he had asked me for help from the very beginning on, but I refused.

lyrx Publishing: St Peters, what type of school is it? How is it financed? , Why is it so difficult to give it a solid financial base?

It is a private school, this means in Uganda supervision by the state, but no funds (not even teachers salaries). This is hard to believe for germans.

lyrx Publishing: What is your personal motivation to do this? How does it feel to go on with a project for many years, though it is so far away from us and concerns people who live in a completely different society, that we are not really in touch with?

I might have the gift to feel very close to people although the distance in kilometres is a big one. Being new in Uganda in 1995 I first felt very much culture- shocked.

The people who rescued me have been the neighbours and colleagues in the village.

So a feeling of being able to give back was maybe a motivation for me.

In 95 the contact was through air mail letters- at least two weeks old!

Today we can mail and phone, so the contact feels quite close.

I never had planned to be active for a project for many years. I always just went the very next step.

I do not feel the life reality to be too different. The basic themes in human life seem to be the same (birth and death, work and resting, health and sickness, love and hate), culture is just a kind of decoration.

Giving and sharing feels great: It is a privilege. I know my funds make a difference.

lyrx Publishing: The German protestant church is also involved. How is that working? What is the role of the church in this, and what are the limits and the opportunities coming from this cooperation?

Ronald won the price in 2009. In 2011 (February) St. Peter’s was opened up. Up to end of 2012 I felt rather desparate how to get rid again of the whole thing!

We had just started with a private account and a few friends. From May 2013 on my church was willing to receive donations for St. Peter’s on their account (taxfree donations possible), a great step forward. We started the Uganda sustainers group, visits took place.

lyrx Publishing: You have been working hard to raise money for this. But Uganda is far away. They have a different culture, different traditions, a different mentality. How do you deal with that? How can you be sure that your money is not abused for purposes not related to your project?

Yes, this might be (except for pure ignorance) the biggest reason for people not to share.

I myself have been sharing for over 20 years now and in the beginning I often asked myself: What, if the student uses the money for something else?

What, if they betray me? How can I know?

And I always had to admit: I could not.

I tried the other way round: Would those friends share with me if the situation had been the other way round (me in a country where even brightest kids have no other option than digging…)

I never funded a kid when the answer was no.

I asked myself: What, if I refuse? What am I going to use the money for instead ?

I decided to take the risk, because consuming it did not seem to be half as reasonable.

Funding education is always an investment that gives a future.

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