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Introducing HAVE

Posted on June 13, 2016 at 3:40 AM Comments comments (0)

 

I am excited to introduce HAVE (Heart for Africa Volunteer Experience). HAVE is a personal project that I have begun in hopes of bringing more visitors here to Uganda to volunteer at some really special organizations. Over the years, one of the commonalities visitors have shared is the comfort they felt having someone in Uganda to provide guidance and support both before and during their visit. It is also one of the aspects of my Change The Truth responsibilities that I have enjoyed immensely. So… HAVE is the perfect merging of my Social Work background, organizational skills, and love of Uganda. My ultimate hope is that visitors will have a profound volunteer experience here in Uganda like I had 9 years ago!

 

None of my job responsibilities with Change The Truth or St. Mary Kevin Children’s Home are changing. They continue to be my first priority, and actually SMK has agreed to be one of the partner projects to welcome HAVE volunteers! There is always room for more friends!!

 

Please check out HAVE’s website at www.ihaveuganda.com. If you have any friends interested in an Ugandan adventure, please send them my way!!

 

Proposed New National Service Program for Youth in Uganda

Posted on March 30, 2016 at 2:00 PM Comments comments (0)

For the past year, there have been some whispers here in Uganda about making National Service required for all graduating Secondary school students. Those whispers are now becoming active conversations amongst our newly re-elected President Museveni and many members of Uganda’s Parliament.

 

What does National Service mean?

There is already a long waiting period of about 9 months between when a student completes Senior 6 and enters University and/or Advanced Technical Vocational Programs. The initial National Service Program proposal would expand that waiting period for another year and require 2 components of service of all youth. First, youth would complete 1 year of paid/unpaid internship with an assigned institution. Then, these same youth would complete 9 months of military training. Students would need to show proof of their completion prior to enrolling into Tertiary programs. The government is hopeful that both of these components would equip youth with both life and technical skills that could assist them in providing a more positive, profitable direction for their future.

 

 

Why institute mandatory National Service?

Uganda is looking to follow in the footsteps of other countries, like Israel and China, with similar and successful national youth programs already instituted. The youth are an overwhelming majority of Uganda’s population. There is a lot of idleness and lack of direction of youth. They just appear to have the skills and/or motivation to make a living for themselves in their own country. All the while, Uganda’s unemployment rate continues to increase.

 

 

Personally since I work with these very youth, it will be interesting to see where this proposed legislation progresses. The youth I have had conversations with about this proposed program are NOT excited at all, particularly the military service! Right now, the government has the idea/theory, but I have not heard the financial and social supports that will be necessary to sustain such a program. Keep you posted…

 

**Several portions of this blog post came from information published in several editions of Uganda’s New Vision Newspaper.

 

CTT's 2016 Academic Year

Posted on March 19, 2016 at 2:25 AM Comments comments (0)

A few weeks ago students returned to school for another year of studies. The school year officially began just a day after President Museveni’s victory for re-election. The country was still unsettled, so few students reported to school. Slowly throughout the subsequent week as peace prevailed, parents (including SMK Administration) felt comfortable enough to send their children to their respective schools. And steadily, schools are once again operating almost to their capacity.

 

I must always have a strategic plan for preparing students for school. In total for 2016, Change The Truth has 43 students (excluding my Antwain): 34 Secondary level sponsored students, 2 Vocational students, 4 University students, and 3 students beginning University/Vocational in August. It is an impressive group!! The preparations for paying school fees in bank, buying supplies (school, requirement, hygiene), coordinating physical examinations, filling enrollment forms, issuing funds for individual shopping, and transportation coordination took weeks to complete.

 

Quick summary of the 34 Change The Truth sponsored students in Secondary school:

 

7 new students: Petra (Senior 1), Benjamin (Senior 1), Ritah (Senior 1), John (Senior 1), Enock (Senior 1), and Irene (Senior 3). Each of these students were so excited and honored to be selected for CTT sponsorship. They now have an individual sponsor, whom they will forge a relationship with during their years of studies.

 

 

from left:  Enock, Benjamin, John, Queen, and Petra (not pictured: Ritah & Irene)

 

8 students changed schools,

 

13 students will complete their Senior 4 & Senior 6 UNEB National Examination or their Year 12 Cambridge International Advanced Examination this year,

 

Students are attending 7 different schools this year (Kajjansi Progressive Senior Secondary School, Bethel Covenant College, St. Noa Girls’ Senior School, Baptist High School, Merryland High School, Mengo Senior School, and Taibah International School). Each grade level and each school has different requirements for students.

 

 

Taibah International School:  (from left) Rebecca, Francis, Antwain (not CTT), and Isabella

 

CTT generously provides school supplies to ALL Secondary students living at SMK, so this year 52 Secondary students were provided with all of their notebooks, pens, art supplies, graph books, mathematics set and much more.

 

 

 

With CTT funding, Daddy Joseph assisted CTT Secondary students to return to school with over 110 essential textbooks to enhance their classroom lessons.

 

 

 

Of the CTT sponsored students, 30 of them went back to school with a completed physical examination to ensure optimal health and/or health supports for this year. CTT's very own Alumni, Nurse Douglas, came back to assist!!

 

 

 

In Secondary schools, students must take EVERYTHING they could possibly need for personal, class, and school usage. I have learned to shop in bulk at wholesalers. Part of my Sitting Room has actually become a store house for supplies for upcoming terms. Here is just a sampling of the items CTT will assist sponsored students to take back to school: 216 tubes of toothpaste, 325 bars of wash soap (for their clothes), 900+ rolls of toilet paper, 1050 notebooks, 102 reams of photocopy paper, 146 brooms, 48 bottles bleach, 1500+ ink pens, 192 graph books, 168 mathematics sets, and 60 scrub brushes.

 

 

 

 

On Reporting Day, it is always madness of ironing uniforms, packing things last minute in suitcases, storing items not needed at school either at my house or with a trusted friend at SMK, and saying goodbye to one another until the next holiday. This term all students left SMK at the same time going in all directions to their schools. They were able to spend a few special moments with Mama Rosemary prior to their departure, who shared her love and well-wishes for them. 

 

 

And now they are all safely at school with all of their essential supplies and ready to excel in another academic year. For me, I now shift my attentions to planning for Visitation Days next month and holiday enrichment program in May. And our cycle for another school year continues…

 

Uganda Presidential Election Update

Posted on March 17, 2016 at 8:25 AM Comments comments (0)

The Election season here in Uganda is over (or at least relatively). There were the Presidential Elections, followed by individual elections for Members of Parliament, Mayor, Local Council 1, Local Council 3, and Local Council 5.

 

President Museveni was re-elected by a wide margin. Uganda actually shut down all social media and mobile money services for 4 days including and following the elections. There were fears of national security and unfair voting practices. The Police guarded each of the Presidential candidates within their homes to restrict their public appearances. One of the main Presidential opponents felt the practice unjust, defied, and was arrested 4 times in a week. There was a palpable tension in the country. People stayed close to home. The streets of Kampala were deserted.

 

Slowly Ugandans have resumed daily life. That initial fear of war and protests is over. Schools began their academic year only a few days after elections. Students have been slow to report, especially those nestled in the safety of villages. Presidential opposition has filed lawsuits for voting malpractices (like cheating) and unfair voting practices and environments. Those arguments are presently being heard before the Uganda Supreme Court. They will either be dismissed or supported to have another election be conducted.

 

Uganda is happy for peace, but the atmosphere of the country is still on edge. What will happen next? But with the conclusion of their elections, they are turning their attention to the American elections. Oh, what humor they are finding in the antics and absurdity of American politics.

 

Uganda 2016 Elections

Posted on February 12, 2016 at 10:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Everywhere you look these days is: LONDA, LONDA, LONDA. Londa (pronounced ‘loan-dah’) is the Lugandan word for VOTE. The focus of Uganda’s attention is exclusively on the upcoming Elections scheduled this upcoming week on February 18th. There will be several offices voted… 385 Members of Ugandan Parliament from each of the 111 Districts, Local Council Members of various ranks from the smaller neighborhood positions to the larger district levels, City Mayors of larger townships (like Kampala), and of course, Uganda’s President.

 

There are 29 registered political parties in Uganda, including the more popular National Resistance Movement, Forum of Democratic Change, Democratic Party, Uganda’s People Congress, Conservative Party, Justice Forum, and Independents. For the past 30 years President Yoweri Museveni and his supporting political party, NRM, has held majority power within all Executive branches of government.

 

This year there are 8 Presidential candidates campaigning for Uganda’s highest office. However, 3 candidates are considered the front-runners. President Museveni is seeking re-election for another term. Museveni’s former (or fired) Prime Minister, Amama Mbabazi, has decided to make his own independent run. As well as Dr. Kizza Besigye, who was the former Medical Doctor of President Museveni. This will be Besigye’s 4th time to run against Museveni’s ticket. The relationship between these 3 men dates back over 30 years during their military days when they jointly fought for control Uganda’s government. Their debates, media reports, and campaign speeches contain tangible ebbing of their personal conflicts and previous misunderstandings. It has gotten pretty nasty.

 

Campaign posters decorate every possible surface… business store-fronts, any flat surface like walls, security gates, utility poles, vehicles sides and windows. One interesting thing that I failed to notice during the last elections was the usage of symbols prominently displayed on all posters. To support to illiteracy rate of 27% in Uganda, each political party has a symbol (like a key, hoe, soccer ball, clock, chair). The actual voting ballot will then have printed the candidate’s name, political party affiliation, and this specific symbol.

 

Schools were originally schedule to report back for the beginning of the academic year on February 1st. Due to the significance of this election and the possible volatility that could ensue, schools have postponed their opening date until February 22nd. Those students over the age of 18 years and teaching staff can now more easily remain in their home district to cast their vote!

 

Let us all lift up the nation of Uganda together this month… Please specifically pray for safe, fair elections followed by acceptance and peace for the nation to move forward.

 

This Madam is a neighbor to SMK running for office.

 

Meet Sarai

Posted on February 1, 2016 at 2:35 AM Comments comments (0)

 

This past week, we welcomed our new kitten, Sarai, to our household. (Isabella named her after Simba’s mother in ‘Lion King’.) She is assisting us with some pesky rodent problems in our general compound. So far, she is a natural! Here is Uganda, cats are called ‘puss-cats’ or ‘puss’. Kids think it is funny that we have an actual name for the cat.

 

We, especially me, were all a little reluctant to our new furry friend to arrive, but she had really been an easy companion. She quickly became comfortable with her new space, is friendly and frisky, sleeps A LOT, and quickly learned to use her litter box.

 

Sarai likes the boys much more than the girls. But her favorite friend is Antwain. Although he is not overly affectionate with her, she will follow Antwain throughout the house and immediately respond to his commands… quite endearing.

 

Tour of Kajjansi Progressive Senior Secondary School

Posted on January 28, 2016 at 1:25 AM Comments comments (0)

While Change The Truth’s Team 9 was visiting SMK last month, we had the opportunity to take a school tour of Kajjansi Progressive Senior Secondary School. This experience is rewarding for both visitors and students. Visitors get the rare opportunity to have complete access to school grounds, as the school is officially closed for holidays. CTT-sponsored students attending Progressive have the unique opportunity to talk about their school, personal studies, daily schedule, and general life as a Secondary student here in Uganda. Visitors never fail to walk away from this school tour without a greater appreciation for the sponsorship supports provided by CTT. As well, they have a growing respect for Ugandan students’ diligence, determination and hard work, not to mention a better appreciation for the educational opportunities freely provided in America.

 

During this tour Scovia, one of CTT’s Secondary students, brought along a camera. She does not attend Progressive, but I thought she beautifully captured the essence and beauty of the school. One of the images captures a dormitory which caught fire this past term, as several of the students mentioned in their sponsor letters. It was a blessing that everyone was in a class at the time, but the building and all property inside was a total loss.

 

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Ugandan Life- Photos from SMK Youth Photographers

Posted on January 25, 2016 at 8:20 AM Comments comments (0)

During the CTT Team 9 Visit, camera were constantly in use. Children captured over 8,000+ photos of their environment, activities, and one another. It was really incredible. There were some images that students took of 'Ugandan Life' that were really compelling. They are good portraits of daily life in our village, which would look similar to other villages across Uganda. Hope you enjoy...

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Photo Scavenger Hunt

Posted on January 14, 2016 at 1:15 AM Comments comments (0)

All of the CTT Team 9 were accomplished, passionate artists either behind a camera or video-camera. They loved to capture the spirit of the moment. Last year, Team 8 introduced a Photo Scavenger Hunt, which was a HUGE success. This year, it seemed perfectly fitting to bring that activity back… and boy, was it FUN for all. The premise is simple… a group has a camera and a list of 12 images they must capture through photographing. Every photo must contain at least 1 group member. And all team members should be within at least 2 photos. The great thing is there were no losers…only a good time and lots of really interesting shots, like:

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Holding a Jackfruit

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Photo containing at least 1 SMK student from every educational level (Nursery, Primary, Secondary O-Level, Secondary A-Level, and University/Vocational)

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 Using body parts to spell ‘CTT’

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Shadows cast from body/bodies form a basic shape

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Group photo with Melissa

 

 

CTT Team 9 Shares Photos

Posted on January 12, 2016 at 3:25 AM Comments comments (0)

The following photos were taken through the eyes of CTT Team 9. Thanks for sharing Jackie and Rebecca!!

SMK Marching Band

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KaWinnie in Kitchen

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Little Jane

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Sanday (incoming CTT Senior 6 student)

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Claire Faith (incoming CTT Senior 5 student)

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Shiba

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New generation of Big Boys... from left- David, Gregory, Wasswa & Danny

 

 

 

 

 


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