From Publishers Weekly
So many people die of AIDS in Uganda that at times bodies are stacked in city mortuaries like firewood. Moved by the plight of more than one million AIDS orphans in a nation with a population of 30 million, Kaguri, a human rights advocate returning home after studying at Columbia University, decided to build a school for children who had lost one or both parents to the syndrome. Kaguri and his American wife used their modest resources and contributions from friends and churches to open the two-classroom Nyaka AIDS Orphans School and initiate advocacy campaigns to counteract the superstitions that have stigmatized HIV/AIDS in Uganda. Anecdotes about the students, the author's family—his own brother and sister died from the disease—and his dealings with donors and corrupt officials, reveal Kaguri to be at once vulnerable and ferociously determined. Written in simple, straightforward style, the book is an affecting and accessible tribute to the difference one person can make in the world. (Jun.)
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Kaguri, born in Uganda in 1970, the year before Idi Amin’s ascendance to power, studied human rights at the national university, enrolled in the Human Rights Advocacy Program at Columbia, and married an American doctoral student in 1998. It is on a visit back to his native village in 2001 that Kaguri and his wife witness firsthand the devastation to families caused by the AIDS epidemic, and the huge number of orphans. They pledge to build those orphans a school, and upon their return to the U.S., they garner funds from churches, Rotary clubs, private businesses, and grants. Remarkably, they open their school with one class of 60 orphans in January, 2003. Mirroring the work of Greg Mortenson (Three Cups of Tea, 2009), Kaguri gradually expands his goals, adding not only classrooms but also water and nutrition programs, community gardens, teachers’ workshops, and eventually a second school in a neighboring village. His story is an uplifting testament to the belief that one motivated individual can accomplish much, even when others have given up before even trying. --Deborah Donovan