Farouk Ahmad Ogwaro, son of Dr. Oketch Ogwaro from West Nile district of Nebbi, Parombo in Pamitu village is a craftsman of a rare breed and the founder of Pan African Toy Project. His craftsmanship rotates around creating children’s toys from wood. Farouk’s creativity enabled him to make toys which help toddlers learn how to walk and perfect their movements in quite a short time. The toy, usually a helicopter with a propeller amuses the little child every time it rotates when pushed, hence aiding the child in walking.
Having studied his ordinary level at Nvara Secondary School where he learned woodwork, Farouk says it only polished his passion for creativity. After working in several wood workshops in Kampala, Farouk decided to start his own brand by putting carvings on most of the products like; deck chairs, picnic chairs, folding tables, shelves and other household furniture. During the time of showcasing his talent to various would-be clients, he met an English lady called Karen who was very instrumental in his trade. She even helped him further market his crafts by personally selling them to European expatriates working and living in Uganda and also exported many of his works to Europe. She particularly loved the engravings he did on boxes which usually sold out. At one point, she described him as the best Ugandan craftsman. Farouk also met other people in the tourist business like Steve Willies, the proprietor of Red Chilli who helped a great deal to market his craft at his work place. Farouk also did a lot of business with Equator Catering Services and many others who were very helpful in promoting his work.
As a small boy, Farouk loved drawing. He recounts that at some point, he would fill his exercisebooks with drawings of cars and aero planes instead of class work. He also loved repairing things like clocks, bicycles, motorcycles, electric mortars which is why he also worked at a motor garage for quite some time. The experience he got there enabled him to create his own molding machine which he uses to date. He dreams of creating a robot which in his view would help in road safety by helping little school going children understand more about traffic. But for now, Farouk prefers moving from place to place selling his toys which are very durable.
Farouk says the youth of today lack survival skills, that’s why they complain too much about unemployment. He explains that most of them have the potential and talent but have no access to funding, premises and organizational strategy. He also pointed out the disadvantages of exploitation by would-be investors who steal ideas from people who don’t have the means. Besides, many students leave school when they have not been taught proper skills let alone ways of how to live life. It is because of these combinations of factors which enabled Farouk embark on a career basing on passion for what he does. He boasts of training very many young people but unfortunately, most of them go astray when out in the real world.
He heaps praises for his thirteen year old daughter whom he trained personally and is now self-reliant: she makes her own wooden toys which she sells and earns a fairly good amount of money at the end of the day to help with her needs. Although many parents thought he was abusing her through child labour, Farouk only laughed them off.
Farouk is willing to share his ideas with people ready to learn to help market his brand worldwide. He loves owners of vintage vehicles saying the cars are extraordinary and many young people have never seen them. He thus makes them as souvenirs which can serve as either interior or exterior décor.
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