Stories 4 Your Heart
by Jessica Schendel
November 16, 2014
In 2009, when we were volunteering at Great Lakes Community College, we met an impressive young man called Caleb - he was a Junior Lecturer in the AgriBusiness Department. Caleb grew up in the district, near the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and about 10 miles from the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. Paul, a scientist from Massachusetts, worked closely with Caleb for 2 months and was very impressed with his serious approach to his work, his conscientiousness, his attention to detail and his enthusiasm for science, for his students and for life in general! Caleb has a big smile and a warm heart and is a pleasure to be around.
Caleb expressed interest in learning more science and when we asked him what his dream was, he said he would like to study for a degree in chemistry so he could be a soil chemist and work with local farmers. We told him that, if he could find a university that would take him, we would pay for him to get his degree. After several phone calls, Caleb found out that he could not do any kind of science degree as he didn’t have the pre-requisites, owing to the lack of science teaching in local schools. Instead of giving up, he re-worked his dream and applied for a degree course in Sustainable Agriculture at Ndejje University. Going to Ndejje took a lot of courage as it is so far away from Caleb’s home. First he had a 10-hour ride on a night bus, arriving in Kampala in the morning where, on at least one occasion he was robbed. Then a second bus north to Ndejje.
With so little background in science, Caleb found his first year courses to be extremely difficult but he studied hard and just managed to pass them all. By the second year he was doing much better and was chosen for one of the top internships during the summer break. By his final year, Caleb was excelling and he graduated top of his class with a First Class Honors Degree and 6 job offers in a country of high unemployment!
Caleb is now working as an Agricultural Loans Officer at Postbank in Kanungu District, assessing farmer’s applications for loans and advising farmers on fertilizers and farming techniques that will help them to maximize their production. He still dreams of becoming a full-time professor at the College but with hopes of being married soon, he needs the bigger salary that the bank can provide.
It was as a result of meeting Caleb that we felt inspired to provide science education for all the young people of the district. It seemed such a waste of talent that a bright young man, eager to study science in order to help local farmers, should not be able to do so because he hadn’t had the proper science background in school. Through Caleb, the idea of the SEED Institute was born (please take a look at the SEED page on this website). Maybe one day the wheel will turn full circle and Caleb will be a lecturer at the Institute he inspired!