Chatters and AG Hair have always had a lot in common: both were started by husband and wife teams 26 years ago in Canada, essentially from nothing, and each have grown to earn separate distinctions within the industry. Chatters has the largest chain of hair salons in Canada, and AG is Canada’s largest manufacturer of hair care products. Three years ago, a strong and mutually beneficial business relationship got even better when Chatters decided to build a school with AG Hair’s Women Leading Change Foundation in Northern Uganda.
LOTTE DAVIS’ JOURNAL DIARY
At the end of the 20 years of civil war that decimated Northern Uganda in 2008, people listed education for their children as their number one priority. Their schools had slowly deteriorated as they stood vacant for these 20 years, but any support to rebuild them was completely unavailable through the government or private donors.
In 2009, I visited Northern Uganda and was introduced to two schools: a girl’s school named Atanga and Patongo Elementary. The former we began to rebuild immediately. But Patongo Elementary — with a student population of 1500 kids and over a hundred students fit in a class — was in a deplorable condition and needed a big budget. As I was already building a school and had limited excess funds for Patongo, we approached Chatters to see if they wanted to contribute. They did a lot more than this. In fact, the owners flew to Uganda to see the school for themselves and agreed to be the major funder in a three-year rehabilitation project. Eight new classrooms brought the classroom density down to 60 students per class. A beautiful new library, an assembly hall, two dormitories, several latrines and eight teacher’s houses were built, and a stunning new campus arose in the midst of a devastated landscape.
Eight New Classrooms
There is no other school of this caliber anywhere in Northern Uganda. This school is a showplace, but more than this, it represents hope, and a level of normalcy that these people have been striving to achieve in all aspects of their lives since the war. Their children are learning better in smaller class sizes, better teachers are attracted to the school because of the new teacher residences and the modern, functional buildings they will teach in.
First of two new dormitories
Girls who used to walk long distances to school now have a bed to sleep in and are no longer vulnerable walking alone on the road.
Chatters, their franchisees and all their employees came together under A Beautiful Cause to raise money to build all this. As Northern Uganda starts to rebuild its economy, many communities are impacted by the new school. And thousands of children and their children will benefit from this exceptional learning environment for generations to come.