She may be wheel chair-bound but Ms Molly Ndezo is a highly motivated woman. She runs a vocational school that she founded in Arua close to 20 years ago.
In 2000 after observing the hardships semi-educated young men and women were going through to achieve self-reliance, she came up with a concept for a school. Using her skill and determination, she rented one room in which she started training mainly Primary Seven and Senior Four leavers on vacation and those whom schools could not absorb for further studies.
But this did not impress her as the students often left at the beginning of the new school calendar hence leading her to take even those who dropped out of school.
In 2002, just after she had opened the school, she was involved in an accident in which her spinal cord was injured and this has since left her permanently restricted to a wheel chair.
But today, her school called Ma ecora, meaning (I can) in Lugbara has transformed the lives of over 5000 youths since its inception. This has offered opportunities for jobs, education and improvement of skills for those who join and successfully complete the vocational courses.
“The accident crippled me physically but it never crippled my mind, I wanted to demonstrate to others that our physical condition does not stop us from achieving our goals. You can still be useful to the community,” Ndezo says.
Ndezo explains that she feels good helping the disadvantaged youth who have dropped out of school. A first-time visitor to the school will see no difference between Ndezo and her students; she always sits among them when it comes to the practical aspects of the subjects offered.
What inspired her?
She says she had desire to help the youths become self-reliant and avoid dependency syndrome which has increasingly become a problem to many families.
“I started this school because I too had dropped out of school due to lack of school fees and no one was there to help me to continue with studies.
This was a way to help many of my kind to continue being relevant in life even if they never reached their destiny,” she explains.
“I realised that there were many youth in our communities being idle, many had also just come back from exile and had no skills so I started it so that through the work of their hands, they can be independent,” she added.
Though the school was started for the dropouts, today the school also registers Senior Six and Senior Four leavers who have failed to progress with studies. And she has made it affordable so that one only has to pay Shs 176,000 for a start in carpentry and Shs 150,000 for the last module.
While those in boarding pay Shs 350, 000, the costs for the rest of the courses depend of the duration one takes at the school and the cost of materials used.
Some of the courses offered at the school include; tailoring, hairdressing, motorcycle mechanics, catering, carpentry and joinery, bakery and welding among others.
Gladys Avako, one of the pioneer students of Ma ecora said she attributes her present status in life to what was instilled in her by Ndezo.
“I was a primary school dropout with no job because I had no skills but she convinced me to get training and today I am self-sustaining. I am paying fees for my children to good private schools and I have built a house out of the skills I acquired from here,” Avako said.
The school has now shifted to its own land at Mvara, Ayiforo village which Ndezu says is now spacious and will offer the over 300 students a good learning environment.