Robert Katende comes off as a simple youth finding his way around life but this young man at the age of 17 started an NGO in Masaka and later a primary school which today has over 200 pupils. LinkmeUg’s Cathbert Kigozi interfaced with Robert on his projects.
LinkmeUg: How did you start your projects?
Katende: I was in S.5 when I conceived the passion to help the orphans in my community but I didn’t know how to start off. Educate Uganda helped me do this. Educate Uganda is an NGO that develops leaders and entrepreneurs by working with secondary schools. Educate found me at kabuwoko secondary school Masaka.
LinkmeUg: So how does a 17 year old get the money and courage to have an NGO and a school?
Katende: I had the passion and with Educate I got the confidence. As for the money, it came through Facebook.
Educate taught us that Facebook or social network platforms are the cheap sites for Advertising and marketing ourselves.
I would post my ideas on my Facebook account and also share it to my friends and ask them to share it. With time I got donations of 5 million shillings from my face book contacts and I used it to buy land in Senyange Masaka and setup the school.
LinkmeUg: what services does Smile Africa Children’s foundation offer the community?
Katende: Smile Africa school provides educational services. Life in Uganda is getting more expensive by the day and without being educated, its more difficult to hustle through.
Orphans are in a worse off situation because they lack the means to get a good education. That’s why we provide education services and smile Africa Organization is a home for them.
LinkmeUg: What kind of school is Smile Africa Orphan school.
Katende: It’s a primary school with over 200 students from primary 1-3 but we have plans to introduce Primary 4-7.
LinkmeUg: How many people do you employ at the school?
Katende: I have employed 8 people 5 of them being teachers and the 3 are other workers who help with cleaning and cooking lunch for teachers and students at school.
LinkmeUg: Is education free?
katende: Beside 10,000 shs for lunch, school is free.
LinkmeUg: what challenges do you face?
Katende: I am doing social work but haven’t studied it. I have a challenge writing proposals on my own. But my mentors in Educate are always there for me and am learning how to do it.
LinkmeUg: where do you see yourself in the near feature?
Katende: I see myself growing big with my projects and getting more donations to help boost my work and getting a thousand students at Smile Africa orphan school.
A word for young people
Katende: I advise youth to start working towards your dreams early enough because it takes time for it to take shape.