Story of Muleke Alex.

Embracing change in his life, a formerly defiant Alex now enjoys painting.

He uses recycled material to create attractive art and his dream is to start an art school in Kampala City.

Story by Clelia Vegezzi (Communication Officer AVSI Uganda), 30th July 2021.

Alex is one of 3,650 children supported through his education by the Distance Support Program. He is a student of art at a Kampala university, and his innovative painting is helping him provide an upkeep for his mum.

He went to school at Luigi Giussani Secondary School for six years and in 2018 he completed his secondary school level with excellent grades. Previously disinclined to stay in school, Alex Muleke gradually found the motivation in art – which became his path to continue his studies. Deep-rooted in the school’s curriculum, the teachers at Luigi Giussani Secondary School believe in the power of art and deliberately encourage students to cultivate their potential in creativity. But Alex’s strife in class angered his classmates.

“I don’t know why I didn’t want to listen, I constantly annoyed my classmates and I enjoyed it when I upset teachers.” This is how Alex, now twenty, tells of his early years at Luigi Giussani High School in Kampala.

In 2013, Alex’s mum, Loyce lost hope in her son, she suffered from an illness, she wouldn’t count on her husband for assistance for their family, and there was not enough time available to her to spend with her six children since she had to work hard to meet the expenses of her home.

The social workers at Meeting Point International helped Loyce – they provided psychological and medical support and introduced her to the activities of a group of women in Kireka slum. Loyce, encouraged by the enthusiasm of the other women soon found the determination to face her problems. She joined the group of women where they met every once a week to sing, dance and learn different skills such as weaving and financial trainings to help them manage their savings and small businesses. And from the Distance Support Program, she also received a financial contribution of school fees for her children and this time, Alex was certain he would study and shape a good future for himself and be able to help his mum one day.

“The teachers became my friends: they gave me a clear vision about my life, and I realized that I had a beautiful chance. I am talented and I soon composed myself, I paid attention during class lessons, and I began life anew.”

Today, Alex is enrolled at Kyambogo University. “When I paint I can control my thoughts. I am developing my own style with art. I like portraying people and I look for creativity in materials, in everything I touch.”

It was Alex’s passion and determination that helped his mum to face the difficult months of the lockdown imposed by the Ugandan Government to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The situation does not stop Alex’s creativity. He focuses on the emotions he experienced during his early days which he often refers to as “a strange time of his life” and his creativity prompts him to experiment on new materials using coal dust and red earth to make unique artistic pieces such as the extraordinary painting of a masked woman, a piece which brought him a new range of clients and with them the money he much needed to care for his mum and siblings.

And thanks to the help of the local organization Meeting Point International, an implementing partner of AVSI Foundation in the Distance Support project Alex has stayed on course with his education.



My name is Labol Beatrice, I am 38 years old and I come from Gulu district. I joined Meeting Point International (MPI) in 2014. I am currently staying in Kampala, Naguru with my family. We are about twelve people at home. I am the only one working, I sell fruits like mangoes and guavas. My husband used to work as a security guard but he lost his job and failed to find another. He hasn’t worked in years. Probably because of frustration, he resorted to drinking alcohol. This has now left me with all the responsibilities at home. Life has generally been a struggle for me. With the emergence of COVID-19, it came about with its complications which toughened everything. Since I am the only person working, I have been taking care of all necessities in the house like paying rent, school requirements, medical bills, buying food, and many other things. All these responsibilities became so hard and I felt a lot of pressure. To make everything worse, the coronavirus came in and there was a lockdown that was imposed in the country. It became hard to do my activities. When it was imposed, I only had Ugsh 40,000. I was seeing other people doing a lot of shopping so as they can have some food in their houses but I didn’t have enough money to stock food as well. With the little money that I had, I bought 2 kgs of maize flour and a kilogram of beans. I knew that we were going to go some days without food but I would at least be able to make some porridge for my children with the flour I bought. I was worried about how we were going to face this whole period of lockdown. But good enough, people that sell food items like me and many others were allowed to work. Big trucks that transport food, were also allowed to operate. I saw some hope in this. I would walk from my home in Naguru to Kampala center every morning to purchase mangoes and other fruits to sell. I would put them on a motorcycle (Bodaboda) then I would foot back to Naguru. I couldn’t board any car because public transport was not allowed to operate, however, motorcycles were allowed to deliver food and other necessities. My business was very slow because many people were not working and also the strict restrictions put in place limited people from walking. This meant that I had very few customers and hence I was getting little money. I was earning little and yet I had very many responsibilities. All the children were now home and I had to feed them. At least when schools were open, they could eat from there. I was also behind rent dues with very many months. The landlord was not happy with me and so he decided to chase me out of the house. He wanted to throw me out immediately but I pleaded with him to give me some more time, he took this issue to the local chairperson of our village. The chairperson managed to convince him to at least give me two weeks so as I could get where to stay. In these two weeks, I was very stressed and uncertain of where next I would go. But salvation came to me in different forms, one; is that one of the women in the community understood my situation and decided to rent me a small piece of land at a small fee, she gave me enough time to pay her the rent fee. Where I was chased from, I was paying Ugsh 250,000 monthly but in this new place, I am paying Ugsh 75,000 monthly. I decided to construct a one-roomed house with wood so as at least we could have where to stay. The other form of salvation is that I wasn’t alone in this moment, some women from MPI like Adong Christine (Akongo Margret) helped me. They provided me with money and other things that I needed. I was also counseled, even when I was chased and didn’t have where to stay, I was happy” When all hope was lost, I had people around me who took care of me. In fact, I wanted to go back to the village because I couldn’t handle the situation here in Kampala. But Rose and other women encouraged me not to go to the village and they were there for me. Without this company, I could have given up and gone back to the village where life is probably simpler than here in Kampala. With the people around me who helped me, I became less stressed, I became free!

I want to tell everyone that they shouldn’t lose hope in whatever situation they are facing. The darker times always come to pass; you shouldn’t reduce yourself to what you are facing now because there is always hope for a brighter future. What I have learned from being a member of MPI is that togetherness is very important. You shouldn’t despise anyone or refuse to associate yourself with people. These are the people who will always help you even when you have a problem like I was helped. You should also always learn how to help out a friend in need because however bad someone is; they have a value!

Compiled by Adoch Mary Clare