Heart for Uganda

Our Blog

Proposed New National Service Program for Youth in Uganda

Posted on March 30, 2016 at 2:00 PM

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.

 

Uganda Presidential Election Update

Posted on March 17, 2016 at 8:25 AM

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.

 

Meet Sarai

Posted on February 1, 2016 at 2:35 AM

 

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.

 

Happy Thanksgiving from Our Kitchen to Yours

Posted on November 26, 2015 at 4:50 AM

Upcoming Holiday Fun

Posted on November 15, 2015 at 8:00 AM

Schools will be releasing students for the Academic year during these upcoming couple of weeks. Students will enjoy their long 2 month holiday from school. Here at SMK, we will be anticipating the CTT Team 9 visit in mid-December. (More on that visit for follow.) SMK Administration really works extra hard to ensure that orphans are able to visit their guardians during this time, too.

 

During the year, visitors send over fun things for the children to experience. Some are favorites, like string to make friendship bracelets and playing cards. Others are newly experienced, like the baseball equipment and airplanes. But the kids really find enjoyment over the simplest pleasures.

 

It will be nice for the days to slow down and enjoy the company of familiar friends…

 

 

.

.

.

.

Petra Completes Primary

Posted on November 4, 2015 at 6:05 AM

The first time I met Petra she was a young Primary 1 student. Her older siblings, Nicky and Isabella, had been living at SMK for some years, but it was Petra’s first year studying at SMK. She was just learning English. When we met, Petra firmly grasped my hand and literally refused to let go for the duration of my visit. She cried insolubly when that visit ended. I promised that I would come back, as my heart was aching as much as hers.

 

Later when I moved here to Uganda, Petra was my constant companion. Petra always seemed at her happiest whenever we were together. Over these years, she has become more active in activities at school, so her lengthy visits have become fewer. However, there is never a day that Petra does not come to my home for a short visit, even if it is only a quick hug.

 

One of the great pleasures of living her in Uganda has been watching Petra emerge into a lovely, confident, talented, determined young lady. She is my Ugandan daughter, and I love her immensely. Just yesterday, Petra completed her Primary 7 Leaving Examination. She is no longer a primary level student. She will be leaving the safety of SMK next year for Secondary School, and if there is a child ready to spread her wings, it is Petra. SMK will somehow feel emptier to me without her presence next year. But it will be another gift to experience this next phase of her educational studies with her.

 

Petra made grand plans to stay with me for part of her holiday. She is very similar to Antwain in having a list of food, movies and prolonged naps planned. Personally, I give her the next 2 days until boredom sets in, but only time will tell. Nevertheless, I will enjoy this time alone with Petra for the next couple weeks until other students return back home.

.

.

 

Petra in 2011.

.

.

 

 

 

 

Petra last week during her P7 Leaver's Party

 

 

Little Mourie is Growing!!

Posted on October 19, 2015 at 9:30 AM

Moreen has been a regular member of our household for a couple of years now. She came to SMK as one of the youngest children and had some challenges adjusting to life in a Boarding School. Thus she was adopted into our ‘family.’ Mourie (as she is affectionately nicknamed) is now a happy, healthy, independent 6 years old in Top Class (same as Kindergarten). While she is timid and quiet at school, she has found her safe place at my house to let loose and be a loud, jovial kiddo.

 

I find myself having some of the same face-offs with Mourie as I had with Antwain. Kids will be kids regardless of their location. Mourie likes only certain cartoons/movies (especially princess and Barbie), but will watch them repeatedly. She wants to dress herself being proud and uncompromising on her wardrobe choices. She finds joy in her accomplishments of simple household chores. And she is steadfastly determined not be left at home, if she knows that I am going somewhere (unless Brian and Joseph are at home with her).

 

She has really brought great joy and activity to our household. She revels in the attention, as much as enjoy providing it for her.

 

Mourie in 2013 during her first week staying at my home during a school holiday

.

.

Mourie today!

.

.

.

.

.

.

Celebrating 5 Years in Uganda!!

Posted on September 17, 2015 at 3:40 AM

This was a holidays for parties which I am going to highlight in the next several blog posts.

 

First off… Antwain and I celebrated 5 years living in Uganda on August 26th. The time has flown by so quickly. There was something special and monumental about this anniversary. It has filled me some great sense of renewed excitement to tackle the unfinished items on my personal list of things to accomplish while living here… 1st on the list is Learning Luganda (seriously ridiculous that I don’t know this language after so many years!). I even promised students that at next year’s anniversary party I would give my speech in Luganda, which should really motivate me!!

 

Our party was just a time of great joy and celebration. Lots of love, laughter, hugs, and general merriment as we ate, drank, had cake, danced, and enjoyed being a large SMK family! Antwain and I were also very thankful to have some special visitors and friends join in our celebration.

 

Still love this place as much as I did when we first moved here!!

 

My loves... Antwain and Henry

.

good friends from left: Adam, Christie, Joan Faith, Bobbi, Rebecca, Ben, and Maria

.

lots of hugs from our friends

.

Antwain with Ugandan sisters- Claire and Rechael

.

not one that likes to speak... I did have to say thanks and promise to learn Luganda!

.

gift from Rosemary and Joseph... never had my photo on a cake before

.

ceremonial cake cutting with special friends

.

no SMK party is complete without DJ Eddie and really loud music

The Mosher Family

Posted on September 2, 2015 at 11:10 AM

 

 

One of the things I really love about St. Mary Kevin Children’s Home is the sense of family. Kids have not come together under the best of circumstances, but there is a strong bond formed from the understanding and compassion of each other’s misfortunes. Mama Rosemary has stongly instilled a sense of family and loyalty amongst the children. Most of CTT’s sponsored Secondary students have literally grown up together.

 

This term at Taibah International School, they profiled the various sibling groups attending Taibah. The school really prides itself at having several family groups that have moved from their Primary through Secondary schools. Antwain has been a student at Taibah since end of Primary 5. He has had positive experiences in both schools.

 

In the front office this past term, ‘The Mosher Family’ was amongst those siblings groups profiled. I could not help but have a pride in seeing this photo. Francis was Antwain’s first friend at SMK, and he has been the best friend and influence imaginable. Isabella is my Ugandan daughter, and she and Antwain truly have that protective, yet feisty sibling relationship. Rebecca is the calming and reasonable presence in the group. They look after one another at school, as well as respect individual personality quirks and the need for one’s space.

 

At the end of Term 2, Taibah administration gifted these sibling photos to parents. I happily received mine, which is proudly displayed in our Sitting Room for all to see. Proud of these kiddos!!

 

Although I have received strict instructions from Antwain about what I can/cannot share about him on this blog, I have to share this little nugget. This term, Antwain (known as his middle name, Christopher, at school) was featured in Taibah’s Term 2 newsletter. He was one of the football (or soccer) players during their inter-house sports competitions. When Antwain arrived in Uganda, he was a snobbish American football fan. He would literally tell the boys that ‘real football’ was American football. Over the years, his tune has changed. With his participation at Taibah and friendly matches with other boys during holidays, he has really developed his skills. He even has aspirations of playing Ugandan football when he moves back to America for college. Love to see this passion emerge within him!

 

 

 

Spa Day

Posted on July 2, 2015 at 10:25 AM

Recently I took a day to refresh at a day spa located within one of the more elegant hotels in our area. Back in December, CTT’s Team 8 gifted me with a certificate for a luxurious message. It was sheer heaven to have any stresses and strained lifted away! Felt so rejuvenated. Equally wonderful was sitting in the steam bath, and then enjoying a good book along with some nice juice and treats (also from CTT friends). So blessed thanks to some special friends!

 

 

.

 

A VERY special thank you to my friends from Change The Truth Team 8!!