Friday, June 22, 2007
Greetings from Uganda. I have been spending long hours teaching and need to be on my way once again.
I wish the team could return to the libraries after taking a few days break. They would be overwhelmed with how beautiful and well organized the libraries are. They truly did an amazing job building the bookshelves, organizing, and decorating.
My first day at Bat Valley school, I met with a continuous stream of classes while the librarians observed. They will be teaching the same lessons about the organization of a library, how to care for books, finding their reading level, and the system of check-out that will be used. The kids were so excited. With the second class I almost had to leave, go outside, and have a 'bawling' spell. You would think they were coming in to receive a million dollars each. When I finally had a break, I turned on my iPOD and there was the song, "I Love Bananas," which the team had danced to for the kids at Wilber's church. Ahhhhhhh.
Tuesday, the 19th, I left early for Mengo Secondary. I enjoyed working closely with an English teacher named Glorious. :) This will be the most difficult library to make a 'happening'. There are always students in the library studying. It makes it difficult to get to the books. We have agreed on a schedule for classes to come at the end of the day. The librarians are busy checking out class books to students, so it will be a challenge for them to have time to run a regular library. At the end of the day, I felt as if it was still totally disorganized, so I returned yesterday afternoon to teach more classes. The first day, I met with several classes. Yesterday, I met with three more (close to 90 students in each class). After that, I had lessons with the English teachers, library staff (again), and the library club. This club was Gene Richardson's brainchild. Cheers for Gene! About 40 students signed up, so I went over things they would be doing in the library. Hopefully, they will break them into small groups and assign certain days for them to be available.
Yesterday morning, I left in a taxi to Namungoona Primary. Unfortunately, I prononced it wrong and ended up close to Mokono, the total opposite direction. However, we eventually made it. I must give this school credit. They already had thought through all facets of the library and had everything arranged before I even arrived. They knew when classes would come and arranged for three children to be library helpers. At the other schools, everything was arranged after I arrived to help. I had the pleasure of meeting with all 350 students and enjoyed every minute of it. I love this school, as did my team. We have decided to donate our generator to the school as they have no electricity. We had donated a computer to the office, but they have not been able to use it. When I told the Assistant Principal, she started jumping up and down in circles cheering. The principal's reaction was almost the same. What a thrill to be able to add to their lives.
My evenings have been full. Tuesday evening found me at my friends home where I stayed on my first trip. They actually have a nice home. However, this is the home where I was in a small room outside the house. It is also the home where the room next to mine was turned into a chicken coop and we shared a wire ceiling. :) I owe Mary and her family a huge debt of gratitude. They were my 'family' as I adjusted to the Ugandan culture and traveling by myself.
Last night after work, my friend Margaret 'picked me' and off we went to be part of the real Uganda life. We walked along the side of a busy road joining the streams of people that do so (I was hoping I wouldn't get 'knocked' :). Then off down the dirt paths between homes to visit more friends. This family is the one that had children I went to school with resulting in our first library at Namirembe. Actually, the family has 13 children and many extended family members that are often with them. Some of the children are now grown and have left home, including Richard - my friend in America.
We then caught a matatu (public transport) to the heart of Kampala. We wove in and out through shopping places and markets located through small 'alleys' and local streets. It is like jumping into a huge traffic jam (pronouced j-ah-m) of people instead of cars. You have to shove your way through the masses. I love it!
We stayed out late walking through the streets and markets. Later, we went to a small restaurant at which our team had eaten - Steers. I had a small helping of 'chips' (fries) and ice cream with chocolate on it. Hey, I am on vacation - though it is a working one!
Today, I am off to Mary Kevin's School to clean out the rotted books from the storage and meet with teachers and students ... all the while praying I don't have to go to the 'moving' toilet. In the afternoon, I will be at Namirembe Primary talking to the librarian to see what has worked well or needs adjusted. Since they have had a library for two years, Damaille is my resource for the needs of the libraries. I have been invited to the prinicpal's home for the evening, so I am looking forward to time with Jane and her family. Our team spent time visiting with them last year, so it will be nice to return.
Tomorrow is Saturday and I will be leaving for the Archbishop's or Wilber's. I will figure it out this morning. :)
So, all is well here. My nine and ten hours of teaching each day is exhausting, but as always, well worth the time when I see the students' excitement. As I drove out of Namungoona yesterday, there were four students sitting in a circle with their books open sharing with each other. What a beautiful sight!
My best wishes and love to all of you. Keep me in your prayers!