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.