Friday, July 16, 2010

Bombings and latest library news

Things are quiet in Kampala city after the bombings. I think one should compare it this way: If bombs went off in two different night clubs in Austin, everyone would be terribly upset and sad. However, regular life in the city, except those two locations, would continue, though there would be many discussions and some fear about the happenings. So it is here. The bombings resulted in a tragic loss of mostly young lives; many were university students.

Latest update (Friday):

I will leave for Mbale on Sunday and remain there for a week to work in Mbale libraries. Please keep Uganda in your prayers.

Damallie (our head librarian) and I held a meeting with all the Kampala librarians this week at Namirembe School. It is hard to describe; it was such a wonderful time of sharing and bonding. Their problems are quite different than ours. Examples: How does one handle 100+ students in the library at one time? What is the solution to students keeping the books clean when they take them to mud/wattle homes? If a student loses a book, how can the parents pay 10,000 schillings ($5.00) if they don’t have money? (This amount was agreed upon by headmasters.) Since teachers aren’t usually readers, as they didn’t have libraries during their school years, how do we encourage them to read, as well, etc.?

I have been in two to three libraries a day, these past few days, and have been totally amazed at the fantastic job the librarians are doing. Even in the new libraries, I have listened to the librarians teach easily, reviewing the library concepts I had shared with the students and staff previously. At times, they have had students stand and demonstrate the use of a shelf marker and tell the process of borrowing books, which I could tell they had learned quite well. When classes come to the library, a few students each time give book summaries.

Today at one of our new schools, King’s College (a high school), I had an "awe" moment. I must add a note first to tell you that this is the elite high school of Uganda. A student must have finished primary (through 7th grade) in the top ten percent of his class, and have some funding, to be accepted. It is recognized that many of Uganda’s leaders - and future leaders - are from King’s College. We furnished this school a library because the headmaster was previously a headmaster at another school in which we provided a library. We now have libraries in 18 poor schools - and King’s College. :) My awe moment: When I walked in the library, which is large, it was totally crowded with students reading and checking out books. It seems the biggest problem at King’s College is that students are so excited about having books to read, they are cutting class to go to the library. Ahhh!

It seems no matter how many hours a day I am in the libraries, there is so much more that needs done. I cringe when I leave some schools, because I know they need me to stay a few more days to help. I can send Damallie, but I feel responsible to provide assistance. I am, however, thrilled that thousands of students now love reading and are given time to read in class each day. It is happening!

Please keep me in your prayers.

Love and best wishes,

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