“We give special attention to those in particular involuntarily dropping out of school at the primary level since they are the most vulnerable to all sources of crime, including early marriage with its related impact”, Gerald Areebahona, the current Director of the School.
Drucilla Balaba Vocational School whose mission is to ‘eliminate poverty by building a strong self-reliant & sustaining economy’ is a church founded Vocational School. According to Areebahona, “The School was founded on the 23rd March 1991 with only 3 girls and only one sewing machine and named after the wife of Canon Balaba Ezekel who had the passion for the girl child education”.
The school entirely targets the young adolescent girls from poverty-stricken families, who are unable to move on with High Institutions of learning for one reason or the other. Areebahona further asserts that: “there is No magic solution to fighting gender-based violence without empowering a girl child through livelihood skills Training”.
Drucilla Balaba Vocational School train girls in different livelihood skills that range from: Home Economics, Basic Computing, Tailoring, Knitting, Saloon & Hair Dressing, Handcraft among others. Ever since its establishment, Drucilla Balaba Vocational School has registered lots of successes in trying to skill the less fortunate girls. The school’s catchment areas include Kabale Rubanda, Rukiga, Kanungu, Kisoro and Rukungiri districts located in South Western Uganda. The School’s annual enrolment is at 100 on average and the sources of funding include fees collections from parents, donations, local resource mobilisation through fundraising.
When we came across to Ms Muheirwe Charity, a 26-year-old lady and former student of Drucilla Balaba Vocational School from Ibumba in Mparo, Kabale district; she said that: “I am a second born child of a family of 5 and among the hobbies that I shared was cooking, praise and worship and reaching out to people in outreach programs. I had my Primary Education from Ibumba Primary School from where I completed primary seven. After that my parents could not afford to rise for my school fees so I dropped out of school in 2004. I stayed home at the time helping out my parents until 2012 when I came to Kabale town to stay with a relative who had managed to get me a job where I did sales for garments in some one’s shop and I was paid a commission. In 2012 I was lucky to get a sponsor who was willing to pay for my studies to learn a skill. A friend of my then got me a vacancy at Drucilla. In my time at Drucilla, I majored in tailoring and knitting. I am not only learnt tailoring and knitting but also learnt catering, handcraft making, basic computing and entrepreneurship”. Charity mentions that “Drucilla was a gateway for her as she managed to make many new friends both during her study at the school and these friendships have even continued up to date”. She was further supported by her sponsor after her two-year study at Drucilla when she bought for her a sewing machine that she now uses to make garments in Kabale town. She currently works at her Aunt’s shop where she set up her workstation”.
The school has plans to expand its infrastructure that shall accommodate many students and to establish an industrial centre as a sustainable venture for the finished products from school that will raise lots of revenues to support a big number from vulnerable girls from the catchment communities.