Monday, May 28, 2012

A Special Time - Only in Africa

New Vision newspaper - Findings of the 2011 national assessment of progress in education report: About 60% of primary school teachers in Uganda cannot read orally. In 2011, the literacy rate (able to read and comprehend) in 3rd grade was at 47.9%, and in 6th grade, 41.3%.

Change is Coming: A packed room totally full of energy, friendship, and love accurately describes the 3rd annual Libraries of Love librarian meeting. The first night, there were 29 present – which included former, present, and future LOL librarians from six cities. It was an incredible evening of singing and moving/dancing, as only Africans can. We had four male librarians and 1 female volunteer to sing solos – plus plenty of inspirational singing as a group. I loved when they sang, ‘This is the Day That the Lord Has Made,’ – adding the verse, ‘These are our friends that the Lord has made.’ Everyone was holding hands, or throwing their arms around one another’s shoulders. Astounding is the only word that enters my mind to describe the evening.

Afterwards, I walked with the Kampala area group from the restaurant to the hotel (about three blocks), at 8:30 in the evening. I laughed the entire time. They were singing at the top of their lungs... ‘This Little Light of Mine’ – adding in verses such as, ‘shine all over Kampala …Mbale … this street …our libraries .. these people,’ etc. – and dancing all over the sidewalks. What a treat! People on the street were laughing and joining their dancing!

Saturday was a day of brainstorming and problem solving, with contests to win prizes thrown into the mix. An example of a contest: one of our librarians read a short book. Everybody tried to guess the title. At the end of the day, many librarians stood to tell of how the libraries are genuinely changing children’s lives, as they are more fluent in English, improved in writing skills, and are able to read and comprehend.

We appreciated Pastor Okumu arriving to share at the end of the second day. He has played a huge part in Libraries of Love here in Uganda. In all honesty, I would not change anything about the two days. It was a remarkable time of bonding and sharing. Libraries of Love is truly that ... libraries - of love.
You might remember the story of Grace and Old Man. Grace has three children – Damasco, Leah, and Florance. I sometimes spend the night in their hut in the bush. The kids walk 1 ½ hours to school. One of our Board members, and his wife, recently donated money to buy the girls each a bicycle. I had a man strap two large bicycles on the back of a motorcycle taxi – yes, it can be done. I jumped on another – and off we went to deliver. Can you imagine? These kids in their wildest imagination would never have dreamed they might own a bicycle. They are very happy to just have food from day to day! This beautiful family is simply thanking God for this miracle, which is exactly what the sponsors would want!

Note: The kids mother, Grace, walks over two hours to work. She is so thin and frail, I worry about her. Her work consists of buying maize (corn), having it ground into flour – and selling it. We actually had a person sponsor the start-up for this work. Grace doesn’t make a lot, but enough so they are eating every day now. If a generous person would like to buy Grace a bike ($110), her smile would be reward enough.

Time to prepare for the 2012 Libraries of Love team to arrive next week!

Thank you, as always, for reading about the journey of Libraries of Love, as well as my personal notes.
- Trudy

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