An award-winning documentary about a man who decided to make a change in his African village, which was overcome with AIDS, was screened Wednesday by Shenandoah University.
‘Cornerstone’ is a documentary about Twesigye Jackson Kaguri, a man from rural Uganda who knew that education was the key to a better life for himself, but he wasn’t sure he had enough power to help a whole community in need.
“Growing up, I had seen all this injustice in the village where I was born, where education was a privilege for those who can afford it and those who can’t go to school. It bothered me as a school, but [I] didn’t know what to do without it,” Twesigye Jackson Kaguri Nyaka, AIDS Orphan Project, Founder, said.
Kaguri was living the American Dream at Columbia University when he had to return home to care for his brother, who later died of AIDS. The death of his brother motivated him to start the Nyaka AIDS Orphan Project and build Nyaka Primary School for children who are orphaned because of HIV and AIDS.
“Clean water libraries [and] sanitary products [and] food has helped these children to focus on education, and they have succeeded,” Kaguri said.
The project was started in 2001 and has just graduated its first original 30 students, 14 of them who are in universities and some who teach and volunteer at the Nyaka school.
“We are creating this generation of empowered children who appreciate compassion, but who are also going to change the lives of the entire village,” Kaguri said.
Amy Sarch, of Shenandoah University, volunteered at Nyaka two years ago while the documentary was being filmed. She said the experience changed her life.
“They get there, and they are so excited to learn from me, and I’m thinking, ‘I am so excited to learn from you.’ So, they gave me more than I could ever give them,” Sarch said.
Kaguri has been named a CNN Hero, received a Global Citizen Award and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities Degree from Shenandoah University, but he said his biggest accomplishment has been helping transform the lives of thousands of students.
“To be a father of 790 students who are now aspiring to be world citizens, is a joy I cannot describe,” Kaguri said.
Shenandoah University will be taking its first group of students to volunteer at Nyaka in May of 2018