Footsteps Through Africa was founded by Jo Cooper in Rubuguri, Uganda, 2015.
Jo writes about how Footsteps began with a little girl called Stella, and how the combined efforts of friends and strangers alike have built an organisation for education in rural Africa…
“I have spent my adult life guiding visitors through Southern and East Africa, and over the years I have come to know countless people and communities all over this magnificent continent, many living in conditions poor beyond imagination. In some areas, children of 4 or 5 years old walk over 10km per day just to get to school, and women and children walk over 15 km just to fetch water to feed their families. Here, people die every day from easily treatable illnesses, just because the closest medical facilities are a 2 hour drive away, and there is rarely available transport efficient enough to get them there. Something needs to be done.
When I first visited Uganda during a 4-month-long job, I got to know a small community of people living in a village in western Uganda – Rubuguri. The people here immediately stole my heart, proving to be some of the happiest and most welcoming people I have ever had the privilege of meeting. This is where I met Stella, a 12-year-old orphan who had joined a local singing and dancing group to try and make enough money to put herself through school. I found Stella incredibly inspiring, and I admired her dedicated perseverance, so I offered to sponsor her schooling.
Shortly after meeting Stella, I learned how many kids in Rubuguri were in the same position as she was; without the ways and means to go to school and receive the opportunities that come with basic education. I knew other travellers would feel the same as I did, so I started a small sponsorship program assist with these children’s schooling. That was the birth of Footsteps Through Africa, and now 20 students (and counting) have been sponsored a place in the local school.
Since Footsteps’ inception, we have implemented various initiatives in different locations, from school development, to orphanage support, Random Acts of Kindness, and most recently, a primary school in Malawi. Through these initiatives, we have been able to provide support and opportunity to people living in Southern and East Africa’s under-resourced villages. The potential we believe is possible is incredibly exciting, and this is only the beginning!”