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Durham teacher James Gonahasa and Phoebe Gonahasa receive ETFO International Humanitarian Awards for establishing school in Uganda

August 13, 2019

TORONTO - The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) has given its 2019 International Humanitarian Awards to Durham teacher James Gonahasa and his wife Phoebe Gonahasa for their work in school and community development in a Ugandan village.

The first award recognizes ETFO members who have given outstanding service to supporting children in the global community. The award to Phoebe recognizes the work of non-ETFO members in outstanding service to children globally.

James and Phoebe co-founded a school in Phoebe's home village of Nakyere, Uganda, which currently serves over 430 students, after being approached by community leaders. They have provided hope to an area that suffered from a lack of schools, low teacher salary and retention, hunger and family income pressures. Together, they organized the construction of classrooms, teachers' quarters, a kitchen, community well and library. They have also arranged for district and teacher training and have organized skills training for student and community leaders for brick laying, carpentry, farming, baking and catering. James and Phoebe have used their own financial resources to establish and sustain this project.

Students now come to the Amazing Love School and receive a meal (which for some is their only meal of the day) so that they can better focus on learning. The couple is currently working on establishing solar power and Internet access and investigating sustainability to help the community become self-reliant by exploring diversification of farming, irrigation and drought-resistant seeds. Their Heart to Heart program is teaching children character and how to develop positive social behaviour, healthy relationships and academic success.

"With their school and community skills building, James and Phoebe are helping to break the cycle of poverty in this village," said ETFO President Sam Hammond. "The district and teacher training is inspiring hope and a love of learning that will change these students' futures forever."

The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario represents 83,000 elementary public school teachers, occasional teachers and education professionals across the province. ETFO's Building Better Schools education agenda can be viewed at www.buildingbetterschools.ca.