Special to the Village News
Bill Horn, former county supervisor, has a new favorite destination: Uganda.
It all began when Horn met Moses Muwanguzi in 2013 at a North County meeting of Women of Vision. He was intrigued by the man's mission to help educate children in Uganda, his home. Moses is not his real name, but the name he adopted at age 14 when he left his family's Muslim faith and became a Christian.
Muwanguzi was disowned by his family but was educated at a Christian school and became successful in leading safari tours in eastern Uganda, near Lake Victoria. His faith grew – as his business, Kisa Safaris – and he came to the U.S. to promote the tours and raise funds to build a small school in the village where he was raised.
Horn, still a member of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors at the time, spent a couple days with Moses, discussing the Bible and in prayer. Horn committed $500 to the school and decided to travel to Uganda with his son Geoff to learn more.
"On our second day there, in 2015, I promised to build them a Christian primary school," Horn said during an interview at his mountain-top ranch home in Valley Center. "The next day, I bought 10 acres for $14,000 to locate the school."
Construction cost about $100,000 for material alone, but Emmaus School opened in the village of Kizigo in the Buikwe District of Uganda, with 250 students in 2016.
Horn has since bought the adjacent 19 acres, again for $14,000, for a high school – operating the past two years and now with students in grades 9-11.
Horn has made 14-15 trips to Uganda now, and his next agenda is to build a preschool for ages 3-6.
One of the major expenses was to pay for the 45 teachers, many recruited from other parts of the country since the nearest town is 35 miles away from the school. Teachers are paid a salary plus $50 a month for housing.
The total enrollment is 1,050 students, who receive two meals a day. Horn said most of the students live in the jungle and walk 4-5 miles to the school. There are also two dorms for 65 students each, male and female, for children who don't live nearby.
The native languages spoken are Swahili and Luganda, Horn said. The students are introduced to English in the third grade.
"English is phased in, but they are picking it up quickly and by the time they are in high school, they are proficient," Horn said. Students also have daily Bible classes. Soccer is the most popular sport.
"We take all the students to Lake Victoria for a retreat, teaching the Bible and living together," Horn said. "Sunday church lasts 4-5 hours."
Horn, 78, is affectionately known as "Papa Bill" by the students. He and his wife Kathy have been married for 54 years. He's taken her twice on trips to Uganda, as well as two of his eight grandchildren, Jackson and Wil. Once they turn age 10, his grandchildren can choose to visit if they want, Horn said.
The former county supervisor, who was termed-out in 2018 after 24 years on the board representing the 5th District, said he personally handles most of the school's operating expenses.
"I've been blessed financially with my building and real estate business," he said. "It's something the children in Uganda need."
Horn's son Geoff serves as international director at the school.
Horn has developed a way for the school to soon be supported from a corn mill he has built near the school.
"The mill has covered half the operating expenses of the school," Horn said, "and it's still growing, so we think we can eventually cover it all. We sell 200 tons a year and hope to see that double."
He employs 18 men at the mill, which opened last year. Some drive the truck to pick and buy corn from nearby farmers. The corn is then ground into three grades of flour, with the excess used to feed the chickens. Some of the flour is used to make the meals for the children in school, who each have a blue cup for servings of "corn mush" twice a day.
Horn said the mill required electricity and that's when the school received power as well.
"It's made a big difference because with the electricity we can teach computer skills to the high school students, enough for them to acquire a job in the city."
He said three wells have been drilled to meet the water needs and the school is flourishing academically.
"One of the things I really like is that Thursdays are debate day for both elementary and high school," Horn said. "We should have the same in our country."
A medical doctor and nurse visited the school and gave physicals to each student. Several had heart murmurs and the professionals suggested adding maple syrup to the meal servings, which seemed to make a difference, Horn said.
The school's mission is "Empowering children through Christ-centered education" and its vision is "To improve the quality of life of the orphans and vulnerable children who live in various communities of Uganda."
Horn loves that he has been able to build the school.
"The Lord told me to go, and my heart burned to build the school," he said. "Who would go to a country for the first time and build a school unless directed by God?"
People interested in visiting the school or donating can contact Horn at [email protected]. He said support is needed to purchase computers for the high school.