Agnes Kampire

The Exchange that Helped Change the Trajectory of My Career and Life

by Agnes Kampire on 10/01/2019 No comments

Agnes Kampire is Fontes Foundation’s project coordinator for the safe water and scholarship programme. She recently spent six months in Rwanda as a part of our FK Norway/NOREC staff exchange project with Amizero Training Institute. She was one of the final participants in the project, which has been running for three years. Here she is reflecting on her experience.


During my exchange, I was given an opportunity to lead many people, some much older than me and more intelligent in their line of work. There is one great lesson I have taken from the exchange; “Do your very best wherever you go”, so that when you leave, your employers will have a hard time replacing you and your contribution will be highlighted. Going on exchange gave an opportunity to lead and make changes. Not that I did not have this before, I did, but having a different setting really boosted my professionalism. On top of my experience back home, I now have added something new.


Working in a different organisational culture, and with people older than you, is a chance to learn and grow. In my behavioural change, I learnt to listen intently and to respect people’s opinions, to give people a chance to express themselves no matter how wrong they may sound.

Julius Kamukama and Agnes Kampire during the FK Norway/NOREC training in Kampala in November 2018.

Future prospects

I somehow managed to put my priorities right during my exchange. So often we get soaked in the fact that we need to work but we forget why we need to work. Being on the exchange gave me time for reflection and self-realisation. There are things I used to know and I practiced on a daily basis, but not for once did I really take time to reflect on their impact on my life and the lives of others. I know that all my dreams are real and where there is a will, there is a way. My advice to young people out there, especially those on exchanges, I challenge you to self-assess where you are and find your way to a more comfortable space of total integrity and optimal self-growth.

Coming back home

East, West, home is best.  The exchange taught me that we all are equal and each person has a contribution to make in this space we call life. I have learnt to reflect on that fact and I therefore treat people with respect, and love giving everyone a chance to contribute what they know. It is good to be back to my country and to my organisation; so much contribution awaits. What I learnt through my exchange I will implement and I am also grateful for what I got to contribute to my host organisation.

Cover photo: One of the farming cooperatives Agnes was working with during a maize planting session.

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Agnes KampireThe Exchange that Helped Change the Trajectory of My Career and Life

Next Generation of ICT Education – Funding Appeal

by Agnes Kampire on 09/12/2015 No comments

Established in 2013, the Acacia Internet Café was primarily intended to benefit the primary and secondary school in the local community. The strategy was to foster development by enabling access to computers and the internet as well as by providing a platform to practice the English language. Within the first eight months of operations, a large number of community members used the internet and the secretarial services offered at the café. More recently however, the café faced some challenges: Due to a lack of funds and, perhaps resulting from the low level of computer skills of its users, the computers keep breaking down. Moreover, the printing and photocopying machine has stopped working and the internet connection has been slow and sometimes ceases working at all, further deteriorating the café’s financial capacity as these represented its main revenue sources.

Box - Funding AppealBased on the experiences made, Fontes Foundation aspires to turn the café into the Acacia ICT Training Centre and Library. The internet and secretarial services offered at the internet café will still be provided. However, the main focus will be to provide ICT trainings and library facilities to local students in addition to separate trainings for the overall community. The goal is for them to improve their computer and English skills, increase their knowledge and feel inspired to explore the information the internet can offer. With this, Fontes seeks funding of NOK 63’334 to be able to commence construction in 2016. The amount will be used to initiate activities at the centre as described in the 12-month budget provided below.

Acacia ICT Training Centre and Library - Budget

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Agnes KampireNext Generation of ICT Education – Funding Appeal

Creating an Inspiring Learning Environment

by Agnes Kampire on 09/12/2015 No comments

Established in 2011 in the Kanungu district in Western Uganda, the Mama Barbara nursery school offers education services to young, local children. The school has received selective, financial support from Barbara Koestler from the Fontes founder family and it also carries her name. Her past contributions have enabled the school to purchase student uniforms as well as other scholastic material. Notwithstanding her involvement, it is the parents within the community who have initiated the school and who run and maintain it on a daily basis.

In its beginning, the school was operating on a rather small scale and had few students only. Over the years, however, the numbers increased substantially. This led to problems with the little space available and the school suddenly needed more than the two existing classrooms. Moreover, the parents in the community requested for a third class for the mature toddlers (top class) in addition to the ones already offered. Up until that point, the school had only one building with two classrooms, a play room and an office for the teachers. The building, which consisted of a wattle and daub structure, was old and the roof leaked. To make matters worse, in 2014, one side of the building partially collapsed.

Students of the nursery school sharing a cup of porridge with their teachers.

Students of the nursery school sharing a cup of porridge with their teachers.

Given the situation, a local, community-based organization (CBO) in charge of the management of all three nursery schools in the Kanungu district requested funding for a new building with more space and firm brick walls from Fontes Foundation. Generously, Barbara donated the amount required so that the planning of a school building with three classrooms as well as an office for the teachers could begin.

Construction, which was taken up in mid-March, has been finalized by late September and the building has already been in use since then. Fontes Foundation is happy to report that the construction was highly successful not only due to the financial and technical advice provided but also thanks to the good collaboration with the community. The parents as well as the CBO have worked hard for the project’s success by providing manpower, contributing to the transport of the materials, supervising the entire process as well as for submitting the ac- countability of the project’s funds. Owing to its solid way of construction, Fontes expects the new building to be of great use for numerous years to come.

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Agnes KampireCreating an Inspiring Learning Environment

The Weapon of Education

by Agnes Kampire on 14/05/2015 No comments

Several students will graduate from their vocational training this year with the help from Fontes Foundation’s Scholarship Programme. One student shares his experience and hopes for the future.

(Caption above: Students of the Scholarship Programme when they were all still in secondary school. From top left is Abdul Karim, Vincent, Isaac, Nicholas, Justus, Cleophas, Justine, Gloria, Zarika and Sharon.)

Nelson Mandela once said that ”Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” This quote accurately illustrates Fontes Foundation’s motivation behind its Scholarship Programme. When Fontes Foundation installed its first safe water project in Katunguru-Rubirizi, Uganda, in 2004, the organization realized that the children in the area were not attending school. The majority of the parents were too poor to afford their children’s education – others would stop sending their children to school, as there were no prospects of continuing their studies. Therefore, Fontes started a scholarship program to help the ones who are not able to pay for the education themselves.

The programme is meant to support four years of secondary school (O-level) and two years of vocational training, which provides skills that are needed in the otherwise tough Ugandan job market.

This year, Fontes has started to integrate the scholarship students into Potentiam Youth Centre, where the goal is to improve their personal skills and to help them gain confidence. One Scholarship Programme student, Abdul Karim, is currently attending the Core Course in Applied Business Skills. Abdul Karim has completed his O-level and will continue his vocational training at Young Men Christian Association (YMCA) Comprehensive Institute in Kampala after he has graduated from the Youth Centre.

Fontes currently supports 18 students through the Scholarship Programme. Five students are doing their vocational training at YMCA. Vincent, Gloria and Justine will graduate this August and Justus and Cleophas want to write an additional engineering exam. Zarika will also graduate this year, with a Certificate in Nursing. We wish all the students good luck!

My Story – by Vincent Tibetumira

Living a hopeless life is a painful experience. I was born and raised in Kisenyi fishing village in western Uganda. In this village, fishing is the only reasonable source of income. Otherwise, people spend their time drinking. Parents have no money to take their children to school and the majority of parents do not understand the importance of education.

Vincent in Katunguru-Rubirizi, western Uganda with his new laptop.

Vincent in Katunguru-Rubirizi, western Uganda with his new laptop.

I have been raised from a family without love, care and little knowledge about the importance of education. My father left my mother when I was very young and ever since, my mother has worked so hard to maintain the needs of my siblings and I. She has taken good care of me.

When I finished Primary School, my mother could not afford a good secondary school. I lost hope of ever going back to school, but fortunately Fontes Foundation decided to grant me a scholarship because of my great performance at primary level. Through Fontes, my donors have supplied all my needs. I have never lacked anything. Last week I received a laptop that I am going to use in my business and I am so excited. Thank you so much Fontes! I would never have made it here without your help.

I completed my O-levels and joined YMCA in Kampala a year ago. Now, I am looking forward to complete my Certificate in Electrical Installation this year. If I manage to get enough startup capital, I plan on starting my own business and to be my own boss.

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Agnes KampireThe Weapon of Education

Celebrating Ten Years of Safe Water

by Agnes Kampire on 14/05/2015 No comments

The 10-year anniversary of Fontes Foundation’s first safe water system was celebrated with the implementation of a new settlement tank and solar panel in Kazinga village, southwestern Uganda.

(Caption above: The local communities in Katunguru Sub-County, Uganda are showing their gratitude to Fontes Foundation founder Dr. Andreas Koestler at the 10-year anniversary function.)

In 2004, Fontes Foundation installed its first safe water system in the village Katunguru-Rubirizi in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park. The 10-year anniversary of this initial installation was celebrated with a function in Kazinga village 30th of January 2015 and was attended by local water committees, political leaders, donors, the local community and representatives from Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). Andreas Koestler, one of the founders and the current Director of Fontes Foundation, proudly announced that the organisation’s first water system is still working and has supplied safe water for Katunguru for over ten years.

The highlight of the celebrations, however, was the implementation of a new solar panel and settlement tank in Kazinga village. The photo-voltaic solar panels needed to run the water system now only cost about a quarter of what they did when the system initially was installed in 2007. This tremendous price reduction made replacing the petrol generator with solar panels a viable option. It is also more environmental friendly. The installations of the solar panels and the new settlement tank, which were assisted by Engineers Without Borders Norway, were made possible through generous donations from Laboremus Oslo AS and Balder Foundation, both in Norway. We are grateful for these organizations’ continuous support. Fuel used to be one of the largest operating expenses for the water project in Kazinga. Now the project will have more money for maintenance of the system, which again will make the project more sustainable.

Fontes Foundation’s first safe water project in Katunguru-Rubirizi, Uganda was implemented due to dire demand for safe drinking water in the fishing villages inside Queen Elizabeth National Park. People were suffering from waterborne diseases caused by drinking the contaminated water. In addition, fetching water in the lake was dangerous due to the presence of wild animals. Upon request from the UWA and the local community, a small surface water treatment plant was installed in Katunguru-Rubirizi in Februay 2004.

The building of the foundation for the new settlement tank in Kazinga, Uganda. The new settlement tank will ensure continued access to safe water in the village.

The building of the foundation for the new settlement tank in Kazinga, Uganda. The new settlement tank will ensure continued access to safe water in the village.

Now, more than ten years later, the effect from providing safe water has proved to be much greater than only reducing diseases. When the project in Katunguru-Rubirizi was first installed, the village only had a couple of hundred inhabitants. In recent years, however, the population has grown tremendously and the village is now host for a number of new institutions and projects. These include a small hospital, a secondary school and, not the least, the national park headquarters. People say all of this happened because the inhabitants in Katunguru now have access to safe drinking water.

The results from these projects show that Fontes Foundation’s long-term take on sustainable development cooperation – including community involvement, ownership and training, as well as continuous follow-up and advising – is working. Fontes Foundation is not running the projects alone; the local communities have been trained to manage their own water systems, which in each village is run by a democratically elected water committee. The ideal is that each community acquires a feeling of ownership over the safe water system and understands that the project belongs to the community and not to the organization. This is important, so that when the community has learned to appreciate the value of clean and safe water, they will have the responsibility, the skills and the capacity to keep the safe water system running without the involvement of external actors.

The trench for the cable running from the solar panels to the pumps was built by the community in Kazinga, Uganda, as their contribution towards the new installations. Every villager had to contribute with a certain length of trench and the community leaders kept a log to ensure that everyone did their part.

The trench for the cable running from the solar panels to the pumps was built by the community in Kazinga, Uganda, as their contribution towards the new installations. Every villager had to contribute with a certain length of trench and the community leaders kept a log to ensure that everyone did their part.



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Agnes KampireCelebrating Ten Years of Safe Water

Practice Trumps Theory

by Agnes Kampire on 10/08/2014 No comments

The current job market in Uganda demands specific skills and expertise in applied fields. To ensure the employability and long-term success of our scholarship students, five of them are now being trained at an excellent vocational institute.

Youth unemployment is a prevalent problem in the 21st century in Uganda. A 2010 International Labor Organization (ILO) report reveals that the share of unemployed youth among the total of unemployed persons is as high as 83% and therefore poses serious political, economic, social challenges to the country and its leadership. The President of Uganda called upon all youth to opt for skill-oriented courses to enable them to compete favorably in the current job market. Such practical courses include plumbing, hotel management or medical laboratory assistant.

Aware of the many challenges young people are facing regarding both educational and employment opportunities, Fontes Foundation is sponsoring 17 students from under-privileged families through student-donor relationships. The majority of the students have yet to complete lower high school, but this spring several of them were confronted with the difficult choice of what path to continue their higher education on. In line with a general trend highlighting the importance of practical skills in Uganda, Fontes Foundation advocated applications for institutions of practical skills. In a capacity building the advantages of joining such an institutions were discussed with the students in an attempt to overcome the perception that only a university degree will ensure a successful career and gainful employment. Letting the students make up their own minds, five decided to join an institution for practical skills, the Young Men Christian Association (YMCA) Comprehensive Institute in Kampala, the capital of Uganda. It was started in 1986 to enable disadvantaged youth to gain skills through vocational training. The courses offered include computer science, hair dressing and salon management, hotel management, business and project management, electrical installation, industrial art and design.

Unlike other institutions and universities in the formal education sector that are theoretical and whose degrees are based on outdated curricula, YMCA Comprehensive Institute trains students to be self-employed by equipping them with life and entrepreneurship skills. The students are encouraged to be creative and innovative and are supported in developing a high self-esteem. YMCA Comprehensive Institute focuses on the promotion of the students’ moral, physical, spiritual and mental development through co-curricular activities such as sports and debating among students. Such activities improve the students’ confidence in speech and appearance.

The other students who joined YMCA Comprehensive Institute in 2014 include Justus, Cleophas, Gloria and Justine. Their training brought the students to Kampala for the very first time – a very exciting moment for all of them. Their first experiences at YMCA Comprehensive Institute have led to important realizations for these students. A university degree is not a guarantee for a secure future. It is far more important to have a skill set, which is in demand and through which one can provide a useful service and make a sustainable living. With the girls becoming computer wizards and the boys future electricians, they have all chosen courses which match their interests and also provide them with valuable expert knowledge and training.

After their first semester, the students were very excited to go back home and share their first experiences. With high hopes for the future, all of the students are certain that they will become job creators rather than job seekers and offer important opportunities to the future generations.

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Agnes KampirePractice Trumps Theory