Pottery teacher Samallie Kasirye is using her passion for ceramics to give back to her home village of Kalapata, a remote community in north-east Uganda. Kasirye, who comes from a long line of ceramicists, sells her pottery creations and teaches the art of ceramics out of her home in Cairns, Australia, to raise money for the education of Ugandan children.
Kasirye’s mission is motivated by her own experiences as a child. She was given away by her mother and adopted by a couple who were able to provide her with an education and send her on a scholarship to study in Australia. “My foster parents always ensured that I visited my mum in the village and from a very young age I recognised I was very lucky to have been adopted because a lot of the girls in the village were married off at a very young age,” she said.
According to UNICEF, teenage pregnancy is a major contributor to school dropout rates and is a leading cause of death among adolescent girls in Uganda. In addition, there are challenges with the quality of education, with only about 50 per cent of primary school children being proficient in literacy and numeracy, according to a 2018 survey conducted by the Ugandan government.
To help combat these issues, Kasirye formed the Kalapata Children’s Charity Institution and has raised thousands of dollars to put several children through primary and secondary school. She has also supported some children to complete tertiary study and go on to get jobs. “I have had three girls who have graduated from tertiary study so far. One is a lawyer, [another is] a hairdresser and [the third] a fashion designer,” Kasirye said.
For Kasirye, education is a life-altering opportunity for the students in her home village, who otherwise would have very limited opportunities in life. “Without education, these children would have no future,” she said. Through her passion for ceramics and her dedication to giving back, Kasirye is making a difference in the lives of children in Uganda and inspiring others to do the same.