Do AIDS orphans in Uganda have a chance? A few do.

The CURLY GALBRAITH GLOBAL MEMORIAL is a program of support for AIDS orphans in Uganda to complete studies at University, College or Trade school. To date, there are 18 students in the program, while another 22 have graduated. All graduates are employed or have created jobs for themselves. The Guardian Newspaper in Uganda reports that “Uganda has the world’s largest percentage of young people under 30 – 78% – according to the UN Population Fund” without employment.George William Ssentongo in his classroomx

This Rotary program started in mid-year, 2011, with the objective of providing support to 40 students, which would mean raising US$120,000 as the cost for each student is approximately $1000 per year, which covers their tuition and room and board. Most advanced education programs are three years,

thus it is estimated that the cost per student is $3000 to complete a full program. We have exceeded our initial objective of reaching 40 students. Many students are graduates of an earlier program, now defunct, which supported more than 700 AIDS orphans living in child-headed homes.

The program is administered in Calgary by a small committee of members of the Rotary Club of Calgary Downtown. They source funds, receive requests from Uganda to fund certain students, keep track of the funds, and receive reports on success.

Ssemkula Henry

In Uganda the program is overseen by a committee comprised of members of three Rotary Clubs – Kyotera, Kalisizo and Masaka. They choose candidates based on their need, success in their public schooling and motivation to succeed. The numbers of parentless families is very high. Schools in rural areas of Uganda report that up to a third of their population is comprised of orphans. There are substantial numbers where the children survive in child-headed homes. Many of those who enter the scholarship program are heads of homes where there are several other children.


The program continues, even though it as now exceeded the initial goal of providing enough funding to support 40 Ugandan AIDS orphans in achieving their dream of an advanced education. The program will continue as long as we can find clubs and individuals willing to provide financial support. We are very fortunate that the family of Curly Galbraith, a past VP of Rotary International, who the program is named to honour, provided substantial dollars to get the program underway. The Rotary Club of Calgary has been a donor each year, and donations have come from 6 other Rotary Clubs in amounts from $500 to $10,000. Some interested individuals have also regularly donated.

This is a program without administrative cost. All fund received go directly to assist the students. At the Calgary end, Carl Smith, a Rotarian and retired banker administers the program. At the Uganda end, the oversight of the three clubs is supported by Rotarian Joe Mutajululwa, who provides administration of the program without charging a fee.

The need is without end, but is crucial to the young people who have gone through it. There have been no students who have permanently dropped out. One student stepped back from his scholarship for a year to handle family matters, but returned and completed his degree. We have moved from being largely a University program to placing an emphasis on Trade School training where practical skills can take students immediately into the workforce. The local Rotarians act as mentors to the students during their study years and afterwards, in assisting them to get employment or to set up their own shop or business.

We would like to do more. Funding is sent annually and the support for any one student is guaranteed as his or her funds are retained in the Calgary bank account for his or her entire program, until needed each year. Since the funds are sent in US$, an amount is also set aside by the committee to ensure that currency fluctuations are taken into account.

Some Rotarians remember Curly Galbraith who died in 2010. He was an exceptional Rotarian with a tremendous interest in child and youth programs. He played a key role in the formation of the Stay-in-School program which has now taken root across the country. We see this as the type of program Curly would have wanted and supported. We thank Doris Galbraith for taking the initiative which led to the development of this program.

Anyone interested in supporting the program:
Cheques are made out to
Rotary Club of Calgary,
Community Service Fund (CGGM)
#305, 105-12th Avenue SE
Calgary, AB T2G 1A1:
Tax Receipts are available for Canadian donations


I have visited India, Central America and Africa and spent time visiting projects – mostly Rotary Club projects.  Have also had a hand in raising funds and helping to administer some very interesting projects.  Water is a big issue wherever  you go.  Both retrieving it, and cleaning it up.  Also, making a living is another big problem and the work being done to support the poorest of the poor through micro-credit schemes needs to be expanded.

By various estimates there are likely at least 20 million orphans in Africa.  There are orphans in many other places in the world.  I’ve seen some very effective, efficient and humane efforts at resolving this problem.  The best are those which keep these children in their family home with community and other support provided to them.  Of importance, giving them the opportunity of going to school, and ensuring that adults are brought back into their lives.   see

Can we make a difference? World-wide poverty, ignorance and unemployment.