We didn’t travel far today but had many meetings none the less. It was especially great to reconnect with some of the Mamas and see how well they are doing. This post is about the two schools we visited. I will do another post about the mamas!
(Sorry for the limited pics… internet is really slow! Check out facebook and instragram for more photos)
We started our day at the primary school where we have been involved with a few betterment projects. In 2014, the team created a library as it was a school with no books so when the team arrived from home, they brought cases full of books from Kelowna schools. Unfortunately, in the past few months, the management of the school has changed (the managing team left and the owning diocese has reclaimed control of the school) and when they left, they took all the books. So the school is back to being a primary school with no books. I brought Nightsong with me and read it to the students in P3 and they loved it. This was after they sang and danced for us. I explained that I could not sing and dance but that I loved to read and wanted to share a book with them as my thank you for their performance. I left the book with Ms. Grace, the headmistress so now they have 1.
The old management also took all the sporting equipment that we had brought apart from a basketball hoop that has survived since its installation in 2014. It was imported from Canada so it is still good. The one we purchased in Uganda has long since broken so they hope that maybe we will bring another one when we come again. (Interested in purchasing one for the school? Have one that is still in excellent condition that is not used anymore? Let us know and it will be delivered to Kiwuliriza this summer!) We can also look into getting some balls and uniforms for the students. At my school, we had a drive for old soccer jerseys that we had brought for them so maybe that is something that can be done for the students here again.
One thing they did not take was the musical instruments. They tried but the returning management from the diocese managed to hold onto those pieces that we had purchased with the money from Month of Love in 2015. What a relief.
The students in P5 and P6 received letters from my students and wrote replies to them for me to deliver when I return home. We will then reply again and I will bring those replies back to this group in July. While they did this work, we met with four members of the management board to discuss what ISEE does and to hear what their vision for the school is. Because they are basically starting from scratch and the school was left to fall into disrepair, they have an elaborate budget for repairing and restocking the school with furniture (yes, desks and chairs but also beds for the boarding students). We explained that as ISEE, we cannot be involved in brick and mortar type projects but that we would let our community know in case anyone was interested in helping the school rebuild (replacing broken windows, fixing the holes in the roof, new paint and spackle on the walls, fix the hinges of the doors, new latrines) and repair the damage done by the management that left when they tried to burn the school down. It has obviously not been a peaceful time recently for this school community. So if this is a project that interests you and you want to donate to the repairs of the school you can let me know. It cannot be through ISEE so we cannot give you a tax receipt but I will transport your money and oversee the spending of it if that interests you. I have a detailed report and budget that I can share with anyone who is interested as well.
Ultimately we all have the interest of the students at heart. We want them to do well and we all believe that education is the key to their futures. They are excited that we still want to be involved with the school (apparently the old management also bad-mouthed the new management so they lost several students and thought they may lose us as well) and ISEE hopes that we can support them as they rebuild and offer a stronger education to their pupils.
St Mary’s Secondary
I did a presentation at St Mary’s in 2015. It was a small high school in Kabalagala and I remember that I had about 30 girls that I spoke to. It was a nice intimate group and they were very keen on the presentation. Mr. Godfrey, the headmaster, was very enthusiastic and took me all around the school to see what he was trying to offer his small group of students.
Recently, Andrew met Mr. Godfrey and found out that the school has shifted (moved) to a larger area further toward Namuwongo. This means that his school now also services the slum where Kiwuliriza is and where several of our Mamas reside. He said that the girls were very excited about what I had taught and he wanted us to come back to teach again. We discussed how the program would look with the new regulations as I knew he was responsible for what his pupils learned and I did not want to jeopardize his work because of parent complaints and new laws. He still had the letter from 2015 that outlines our program and said that he felt most topics were still important (all topics are still important but not all topics can be presented about!). I offered two options to him:
- We come and do the same type of presentation to his 80+ girls in a half day
- We come 5 times over 5 days for an hour or so and discuss a variety of topics that are important to girls in grades 7-12
He was very keen for the second option especially as we would be able to split the girls into 4 smaller groups of 20 with two ISEE team members and a teacher so that the girls would “be free” to discuss the topics and ask questions. He is going to speak with the teachers to see what we can talk about. He spoke about career and guidance counselling that they don’t have access to as well as the issue of sexual abuse and how the girls are being “soiled” at a young age, especially those living in the slum.
This is an exciting new avenue for us to share our knowledge but to also form a closer bond with the girls over the time we are there. If this is actually what we do at St Mary’s then Andrew is going to find us another school to do the same thing in the afternoon. We may not reach as many girls in one week but maybe the impact for those girls we do reach will be greater. I think there is great potential for this type of program which is delivered as a community guidance service in the schools.
We are off to Jinja at 7am tomorrow morning to meet with Amy from Kupendwa Ministries who runs the home for teen mothers. Each time I see her the program has grown. She has moved to a new location so no doubt she has many more pregnant girls between the ages of 11 and 18 living with her. She is an inspiration to me. Can’t wait!