When we last checked in with Far Away Friends, it was a young non-profit with impressive success to show for its two years in operation. Workers with the organization had already gone a long way in promoting its core mission: to empower rural communities and end generational poverty through education and opportunity. They had opened up their first school, Global Leaders Day & Boarding Primary School in the rural Ugandan community of Namasale, and had 100 children per term already. So what has Far Away Friends been up to since then? A more pertinent question might be, what has it not been up to.
“We’ve grown a lot in the last couple years,” says Kaitlyn Phillips, programs director.
For starters, enrollment in their flagship school – Global Leaders Day & Boarding Primary School (GLP) – has increased to over 160 students. Just last year, they finished building full-size boys and girls dormitories for their 100 boarding students, as well as on-site housing for their teachers. All 19 staff members at the school are from northern Uganda, and Kaitlyn says that hiring locally is one of Far Away Friends’ core values.
“It’s important for us that people don’t think of us as a charity. We’re a community-led, internationally-funded organization,” she says. “We sit down and listen to local leaders in Namasale, and then decide together how we can implement things that benefit the community as a whole. It’s not a charity, but a partnership.”
One development that the community as a whole has noticed the most is the GLP well. It started last year with a fundraising campaign, Walk to Water, which successfully concluded in December with $13,000 raised. The well is being constructed on school grounds, but it’s not just for students and staff – it will be a shared resource with the larger Namasale community. Before the well, kids had to wake up at 4:30 each morning for a two-mile walk to find water.
“When you think about how much water an entire school goes through each day, it’s a lot,” Kaitlyn says. “So everyone had to come, everyone had to carry something. Now the kids can save the trip and have more time for school.”
Far Away Friends’ impact extends far beyond the walls of GLP. In the last year, they have greatly expanded their public school outreach program. They re-built the crumbling bathrooms at Namasale Primary School and started a girls’ mentorship program at a local public secondary school. The program empowers girls to stay in school, facilitates discussion of worldwide women’s issues, and provides women’s health education.
Kaitlyn credited two big projects with GoodBookey with helping Far Away Friends reach their goals last year. First was the Opportunity on Tap beer-tasting gala, sponsored by GoodBookey last summer, which hosted guests for a sampling of craft beers with proceeds supporting students at GLP. The second was a 10-hour Facebook livestream called Dares for Donations, in which Facebook and GoodBookey users could dare workers with the organization to do crazy things on camera. GoodBookey put up $1,000 in matching money, and Far Away Friends raised $6,000 on just the first day.
Kaitlyn is excited to see what comes next for the non-profit, and she credits much of it to Collines Angwech, co-founder and Uganda country director. It’s Collines’ dream that one day, all the children who grow up in her hometown of Namasale may have the same educational opportunities she has had.
“It’s all Collines’ thing, really,” Kaitlyn says. “It’s just her big dream that we all get to be a part of.”
For more information on Far Away Friends, visit www.farawayfriendsglobal.com.