Graduation Day at DCVI: Thinking About The Future

Graduation Day at DCVI: Thinking About The Future

To my placement college, Daniel Comboni Vocational Institute in Gulu, for the graduation of our first cohort of students on the Youth Development Programme. (The DFID sponsored vocational and employability skills training project across Northern Uganda).

Graduation at DCVI: Trainees Getting Ready

Graduation at DCVI: Trainees Getting Ready

I have just read a recent Guardian article about the UK meeting the 0.7% of gross national income target for donating foreign aid. http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/apr/03/uk-meets-foreign-aid-target. The UK is one of few countries to do so, the so-called G07 group, but given current Tory backbench thinking and the rise of Farage, our government has kept this success quiet.

Graduation at DCVI: Dancers Open The Programme

Graduation at DCVI: Dancers Open The Programme

Whatever your thoughts about international development and foreign aid, this UK funded graduation in Gulu was a big day for those concerned: the students finishing their six months training; the teachers who had worked so hard to get them there; local elders; local politicians; student families and friends; senior management of the college who had put everything together; VSO programme staff. The potential released by this training really boosts the community; it was a constant theme of the speeches (many speeches, about 4 hours in total). As the student representative said:

“Before this programme we could only watch and wonder. We were not allowed to lift a tool, a hammer a spanner, to use a weaving machine, to hold a hairdryer. Now we can do anything and we can play our part in our community and build a better Uganda”

Graduation at DCVI: Sweater Weavers Collect Their Certificates

Graduation at DCVI: Sweater Weavers Collect Their Certificates

The excitement was continuous, climaxing with the actual handing out of the certificates, particularly noticeable when the hairdressers and sweater weavers came to get their papers. Certificates really matter; they are crucial evidence that you have done something meaningful.

Graduation at DCVI: Certificate Excitement

Graduation at DCVI: Certificate Excitement

Each graduates name is read out at high volume, their families cheer, women ululate even louder than the PA and often dance the graduate up to collect the paper. A Motor Vehicle teacher leant over and shouted in my ear as a mother grabbed her son to hug him in pride, “these days don’t come very often”.

Graduation at DCVI: A Mother Runs to Hug Her Son

Graduation at DCVI: A Mother Runs to Hug Her Son

Graduates are photographed in a group, the Guest of Honour is then formally asked to ratify their graduation with another short speech. Eight subjects, eight speeches, and each time we get that feature without which no Uganda celebration is complete: Cliff Richard’s 1968 hit, ‘Congratulations’. It is played randomly and suddenly throughout the complex certification process. At one point Cliff told us so loudly that ‘he used to think that happiness hadn’t been invented’ it almost knocked me off my feet, causing one of the biggest laughs of the day.

Happiness was everywhere, and without UK aid it would not have happened. It was also gratifying to hear how many of the speakers had grasped the fundamental theme of VSO’s approach; sustainability. This training was only the start, it would be up to the trainee, their family and community (with post training support from the programme) to get onto the next step of their economic independence. The District Youth leader (one of the oldest men there) told trainees:

“You must show respect to your learning, you are already the resource of yourself”

Graduation at DCVI: Maurice Bricky Gets His BCP Certicate

Graduation at DCVI: Maurice Bricky Gets His BCP Certicate

I can leave the last words to the great Maurice Bricky, the student songwriter, you can see him here receiving his Bricklaying and Concrete Practice certificate. Before that he gave us another hearing of his VSO/ DFID song, already a favourite with this audience.

Graduation at DCVI: Maurice Bricky And Dancer

Graduation at DCVI: Maurice Bricky And Dancer

So much so that the head of BCP, today’s Master of Ceremonies in an astonishing white suit, gave Maurice a special gift all of his own to mark his contribution.

Graduation at DCVI: Maurice Bricky Receives His Commendation

Graduation at DCVI: Maurice Bricky Receives His Commendation

Here are some of his lyrics and for those who missed it here is a link back to his song.

 

“We’ve come a long way; we’ve travelled far – all to seek education

Previously we walked heads down

Today we walk heads up – because we have knowledge and skills

We can practice what we have learned

We can now reduce poverty with our skills

We can now reduce ignorance we were formally in

Morris Bricky – Good boy

Chorus

We give back all our thanks to DFID – for helping us

We give back all our thanks to VSO – for helping us

Now my sister knows sweater knitting – all because of DFID

Now my brother knows motor vehicle repair – all because of VSO

Motorcycle repair; metal fabrication; building – not a problem!

Electrical installation; hair care – all because of DFID

Our hand works are beautiful and beautiful – all because of VSO”

Graduation at DCVI: Saying Thank You To UK Aid

Graduation at DCVI: Saying Thank You To UK Aid

 

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