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Soft Power Education

In 1999 an ex overland driver had seen there was room for a charity in Uganda involved in enhancing the quality of children's education through refurbishing and maintaining their schools. It was in this moment that the creation of Soft Power Education began.

So where does the name "Soft Power" come from? It has nothing to do with electricity, power systems or software!

The moving force of history was, in the past, "hard power"- in the form of military might, political authority and wealth. What we have seen in recent years, however, is a decrease in the relative importance of this factor, and in its stead a remarkable increase in the importance of "soft power"- factors such as knowledge and information, culture, ideas and systems.
Daisaku Ikeda at Harvard University, Boston, USA on September 26, 1991

Based at Explorers River Camp in Bujagali Falls, Hannah Small the founder of Soft Power used the help, dedication and generosity of tourists and independent travellers to assist in the building of Buwenda Pre-School for Orphans. The land was a gift from the community and after twelve months of hard work, assisted by local builders, a pre-school appeared on the landscape. To the delight of 120 orphans the pre-school was officially opened in March 2003. Three qualified Ugandan teachers and one cleaner/teacher assistant staff the school.

Kyabirwa Children's Centre Buwenda Pre-school Volunteer painting

The community of Kyabirwa looked on with interest and gifted more land to Soft Power Education requesting a similar school be built for their children. Kyabirwa Children's Centre opened in the spring of 2004 to the sound of 100 AIDS orphans and children from desperately poor families. Soft Power employs the same staff numbers as at Buwenda - teachers who are determined to encourage these little ones to learn English, play games, write, sing and dance.

Since then, Soft Power has gone from strength to strength. What seemed like an ambitious five year plan to renovate and refurbish the 20 Government Primary Schools in the area was achieved two years ahead of schedule. They continue to work on this project in a wider area and have to date worked at 50 schools across numerous sub counties!

In February 2007 Soft Power opened the doors to The Amagezi Education Centre which welcomes several thousand children each year into a unique learning environment aimed at creating a hands-on approach to education with plenty of active participation. The centre also works closely with the local community offering courses in Sustainable Agriculture, ICT, Science, Art, Drama and Library sessions.

School Children Amagezi Education Centre Volunterrs singing

In addition, 2007 also saw the commencement of a new and exciting project in the north west of Uganda in the Murchison Falls Conservation Area, again working on the renovation of primary schools but also working in close partnership with the Ugandan Wildlife Authority (UWA) to improve conservation education within the local communities and schools.

Funding comes from overland groups, independent travellers and sponsors around the world. Every single penny donated to Soft Power Education goes towards refurbishing and upgrading the schools involved in the programme; the running costs of the two pre-schools and the Education Centre; continuing the work in Murchison; buying building materials and paying for Ugandan labour and staff.

It is only through the ongoing support of funders and volunteers that they have been able to achieve so much in such a short space of time and Nile River Explorers is proud to have been there supporting them since day one.

If you would like to volunteer for a day or two check out Volunteer Opportunities in Other Activities or visit www.softpowereducation.com

As part of our commitment to responsible tourism Nile River Explorers donates 10% rafting income received from all long term volunteers of Soft Power Education back to Soft Power.