Heart for Uganda

Our Blog

CTT's 2016 Academic Year

Posted on March 19, 2016 at 2:25 AM

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…

 

Cool Shoes at SMK

Posted on November 28, 2015 at 7:40 AM

 

This past holiday, Gloria brought over some really clever and innovative shoes for the younger Primary aged students. The concept of The Shoe That Grows are comfortable shoes that grow with the child up to 5 shoe sizes (or approximately 5 years) with high quality leather, rubber, and metal clasps. Visit their website at http://theshoethatgrows.org  or more information.

 

Gloria brought over 75 pairs of sandals fitting for student Primary 1-Primary 4. For easier transport and sorting, each pair of sandals was transported in individual plastic baggies. One afternoon we spent time showing these students how to adjust their sandals and doing a personal fitting for each child. There was some tugging and pulling to get just the right fit. But students were patient with lots of smiles, shouts of joy, and comparisons with friends (even though they are exactly the same).

 

But then something unexpected happened. As a child receiving new shoes, I can recall begging my Mom to allow me to wear those shoes out of the store after paying for them. I could not wait to break in the new pair with an extra pep in my step. But for these children, shoes are always used/second-hand. The simple fact that these were NEW shoes given to them, never worn by another person, was an incredibly precious gift. So each child (even single one without prompting from any adult) took great care in packing those new sandals back into their plastic baggies. They would be stored in their cases for special occasions, like church, outings for performance, or holiday activities.

 

As the new holiday has approached, I find myself looking at the feet of students waiting for the new sandals to emerge from their cases. Will post some photos when that day comes…

 

Thank you for Change The Truth and The Shoe That Grows for this gift!

.

.

 

.

.

 

Another CTT Graduate

Posted on November 18, 2015 at 8:05 AM

CTT can add another University graduate to their growing list of Alumni... Samarie graduated from Ndejje University with her Bachelor's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. 

 

Samarie has been an orphan at SMK since her early years of Primary School.  Mama Rosemary took exceptional interest in Samarie as a young girl.  She has spent most of her holidays at Rosemary's home, and she has been a valuable Special Projects Coordinator for SMK Orphanage.  She is a shining example of a grateful student who is giving back!   Now Samarie is faced with the task of seeking employment.   Her interests are in radio or television reporting.  We wish her the best of luck!!

 

Congratulations, Samarie!!

 

Daddy Joseph, Samarie, and Mama Rosemary

Isabella's Mural at Taibah

Posted on October 30, 2015 at 6:55 AM

 

Isabella’s talent for painting continues to grow and mature. Taibah International School recognized and encouraged her artistic talents long ago. Before completing her studies this year, the school asked her to contribute a special piece. Isabella worked independently to complete a mural painted by the Main Administration Building next to the Art Room. It is fitting that she would choose to paint her signature mother and child theme. It is indeed a lovely addition to the school and a nice honor to have something permanent remaining of her years at Taibah.

 

Bravo, Issy!

 

AFRIPads assisting SMK Youth

Posted on September 25, 2015 at 3:20 AM

The following is a post taken from Gloria's blog and written by our special friend, Natalie.  Natalie is responsible for collecting funds, purchasing, demonstrating, and distributing these innovative products to the girls at SMK.  She is truly inspirational!!

.

 

I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Like hundreds of millions of women around the world, I too, get my period. Okay, maybe this isn't such a revelation, but it's definitely not something I talk about with people on a regular basis. And honestly, it's because I don't need to. Throughout my adolescence, it's a topic we talked about in school, including (gasp!) the boys. We learned how our anatomy works, why it happens, and most importantly, how to hygienically manage the monthly occurrence so that it didn't interfere with our daily activities. Although at times it was a bit embarrassing, as everything seems to be during puberty, thankfully, my questions were answered a long time ago.

 

 

This is not the case for the girls in Uganda. It's an issue that is rarely, if ever discussed. In fact, in many parts of the country, menstruation is still considered a source of shame. Couple that with a severe lack of resources and access to proper hygiene supplies, and the most basic of biological functions, for many, becomes a barrier to attending school. So when a friend forwarded an article about AFRIpads, a Ugandan company manufacturing reusable cloth hygiene pads, I knew this was something our girls at St. Mary Kevin needed to know about.

 

 

Utilizing the power of social media, I put out a call to my friends and family to help. Within one day, we had collected nearly $1000. By the end of the week, we had raised enough money to purchase the equivalent of an 8 year supply for 50 girls.

 

 

Not wanting to pass up the opportunity, Irene, Lillian, Tina, and Beatrice were invited along to make the purchase. We spent well over an hour with the staff of AFRIpads learning how to use and properly care for the pads, and by the end of our time there, the girls were PUMPED. So much so, that the responsibility of teaching the other girls how to use the products was passed on to them. When we returned to school, all of our girls were gathered in a classroom and sat intently listening (if not occasionally giggling) to Tina explain how to use the products and worked with Lillian, Beatrice, and Irene to wash and prepare the pads for their first use.

 

 

As overwhelmed as I was with the outpouring of generosity CTT received for this initiative, it was witnessing this transfer of knowledge that had me close to happy tears. In a very small way these bright young ladies have been empowered to take ownership of their own sexual health, as well as the sexual health of their sisters. And it is this gift that will last a lifetime.

.

 

trip to AFRIPads for tour and purchase (from left)

Joan Faith, Irene, Beatrice, Tina, Lillian, and Natalie

.

Natalie and girls demonstrate how to use the AFRIPads

.

All girls get their new pads

.

Happy girls thanks to AFRIPads!!

 

Term 3 Has Begun!

Posted on September 15, 2015 at 2:30 AM

This post will take a brief pause before further reminiscing about his past Term 2 holiday.

 

Last week students returned back for their final term of this academic year. They will look forward to their long holiday towards the end of November. This Term 3 holiday is considered the ‘promotional term.’ Schools place a greater weight on a student’s academic performance during this final term in their decision to advance (or pass) students onto the next grade. In addition, this Term will bring about all of the National Examinations in Primary 7, Senior 4, and Senior 6. Students have been working tirelessly in preparations for these crucial examinations. (More information about each exam as it approaches in the upcoming months.)

 

Change The Truth’s annual sponsorship provides for not only school fees, but students are also provided with requirements provided directly to schools (like photocopy paper, brooms, hard brushes and rags for mopping, toilet papers), individual student’s school supplies (like notebooks, pens, mathematical set), and individual hygiene supplies (like soap, shoe polish, and vasoline). We were fortunate to have our friends, Carol and Natalie, here at SMK to assist with the distribution of these supplies to students. They commented about the incredible task of the supplies, which made me reflect on this past year.

 

Change The Truth has provided students (and their schools) with:

810 Rolls of Toilet Paper

90 Reams of Photocopy or Ruled Paper

568 Notebooks

957 Blue ink pens

396 Bars of soap for washing uniforms and other clothing

164 Textbooks in Various subjects

99 Tubes of toothpaste and toothbrushes

192 Outside brooms for cleaning school compound and classrooms

And those examples just scratch the surface of a lengthy list…

.

Natalie assists with providing school supplies

.

Carol distributes hygiene supplies

.

Thanks to Change The Truth and individual sponsors, special CTT friends/supporters, SMK Administration and Support staff, local business owners in the Kajjansi area, local Boda-boda/private hire/taxi drivers, and CTT’s partner schools of Kajjansi Progressive Senior Secondary School, St. Noa Girls’ Senior School-Zana, Bethel Covenant College, Taibah International School, Baptist High School, Merryland High School- Entebbe, and Mengo Senior School. We could not have done it without this combined effort!! It has taken a village to see these students through another academic year!!

 

Examination Frenzy

Posted on August 4, 2015 at 12:50 AM

Students in both Primary and Secondary schools are completing their End of Term examinations for Term 2. It is a stressful time, as students are busy revising and preparing themselves for these tests. Here is Uganda, there is no credit given to students for class preparation, participation, daily assignments, or homework. Grades are based upon 2 Examinations only… exams taken both at the Beginning and End of terms. Those tests are averaged together to provide the overall score for students.

 

Examination periods are usually condensed into only 3-4 days for Primary students and about 2 week for Secondary schools. Students must prepare for 2-3 tests per day in their various subjects with little extra time to prepare for the following day. Lower Primary students will take 8 tests. Upper Primary students will take 5 tests. Secondary students (Senior 1-Senior 2) will take 28 tests (not a typo, folks). Secondary students (Senior 3- Senior 4) will take 21 tests. Secondary students (Senior 5-Senior 6) will take 8-11 tests.

 

Needless to say… they are ready for a small break after the end of this arduous task! Best wishes to all students… fingers crossed for good results.

 

2015 CTT Sponsored Students

Posted on July 6, 2015 at 5:30 AM

I talk about these young people all of the time. They have become such a special and integral part of my life. Over the past 7 years, I have had the privilege of watching them grow into phenomenal young men and women. Meet the 2015 Change The Truth sponsored students…

 

This past holiday, Gloria sent some CTT t-shirts to share, so group photos were taken with each class group. I enjoy opportunities like this to gather the students together. There are always laughs. Most of these students have literally grown up from SMK Orphanage dormitories with one another. So there is a familiarity, a playfulness, and comradely that is just fun to witness. There are always an abundance of laughs! Enjoy!

 

 

CTT Senior 1 students (from left):  Alpha Imma, Shine, Mesearch, and Alfonso

.

.

CTT Senior 2 students (from left): Oscar, Lillian, Beatrice, Tina, and Rordirick

.

.

CTT Senior 3 students (from left): Phionah, Nahia, Rose, and Joan 

(Not in photo:  Tonny)

.

.

CTT Senior 4 students (from left):  Rebecca, Evalyn, Isabella, Rose, Wyclife, and Scovia

(Not in photo:  Francis & Steven)

.

.

CTT Senior 5 students (from left): Sanday, Mark, Caleb, Male, and Ronald

(Not in photo:  Brian)

.

.

CTT Senior 6 students (from left): Daniel, Willy, Scovia, and Joseph

 

 

 

Support for Girls + Awesome Friend= Exciting Support!

Posted on July 4, 2015 at 6:00 AM

There are some people that are just natural go-getters. They see a need and take the reins with enthusiastic action. Their efforts end up making a true impact for others. Such describes Natalie, who is a GREAT friend and PASSIONATE supporter of CTT. She has traveled to St. Mary Kevin 3 times now and will making her 4th trip in September.

 

Natalie saw a need within the teenage girls at SMK. Uganda is like most developing countries where sanitary pads are not always readily available monthly. Girls can miss school during these times if other self-made provisions are also not available. Sadly, some girls will even drop out of school, due to teasing from peers or failing grades due to significant monthly absences from school. Sanitary pads here in Uganda are relatively inexpensive compared to America. A package of 8-10 pads can be bought for just under $1. But for families that can only afford that amount to feed their entire family daily, it can be an investment just not realistic.

 

Even at SMK, it is impossible for the Administration to meet this need for the girls. There are a total of 40 Primary & Secondary girls living at SMK with the monthly need for sanitary pads. CTT is able to provide their sponsored students with pads during the school term, but there is a lapse during holidays. The simple calculations illustrate that feminine products must take a backseat to other essentials, like food and more basic provisions.

 

That is where Natalie has valiantly stepped in. She learned about an organization called AfriPads. (www.afripads.com for more information about them). They make washable cloth sanitary pads that girls can reuse for upwards to one year. She began a small campaign of her Facebook friends with the hope of raising a couple hundred dollars. To her surprise and delight, the word spread to friends of friends and beyond. By the end of her week’s drive, she had collected over $1500 for the cause. Natalie will purchase these Afripads sets when she visits Uganda in September. If you would like donate, go to Change The Truth’s website (www.changethetruth.org) and put ‘AfriPads’ in the byline of your donation.

 

Thank you Natalie. Your heart is so full of love for our friends at SMK. My hat of respect and appreciation is off to YOU!!

 

Change The Truth Senior 1 Students- 2015

Posted on April 25, 2015 at 7:20 AM


(from left:  Alpha Imma, Mesearch, Shine, and Alfonso)




Better late, than never… I wanted to introduce Change The Truth’s Senior 1 students for 2015.  All of these students are orphaned children from St. Mary Kevin Children’s Home (also known as St. Mary Kevin Orphanage Motherhood).  They performed very well on their National Primary 7 Leaving Examination (PLE). They have been actively participating in activities and/or displaying positive leadership at SMK. 


The Senior 1 students began their first term began in middle of February.  This year CTT enrolled students in Kajjansi Progressive Senior Secondary School, which had incredible academic success last year and always very supportive of our students.


 Alfonso is affectionately known as ‘Boy-Boy’ to his peers at SMK.  He has been living at SMK since he was 2 years old.  Now that he is entering Secondary school, he is ready to shed his nickname and image of being the little brother. (I have to work very hard to remember to call him ‘Alfonso’ at school.) Though his studies, he aspires to be either a business person or a pilot.


Alpaha Imma came to SMK with her siblings when she was in Baby Class (like Preschool).  She and her 3 siblings are all graduates of SMK.  Her older sister is also sponsored by CTT.  One day in her future Alpha Imma wants to be a nurse.


Mesearch came to SMK with his brother and sister when he was in Primary 1.  Mesearch has a quiet presence but great leadership qualities. He was SMK’s Head Boy Prefect last year. He dreams of being a pilot in his future.


Shine came to SMK with her brothers when she was in Primary 1.  She is actually the younger sister of Mesearch. They are only a year apart and extremely close to one another, so they are often mistaken as twins. Their older brother is also sponsored by CTT.  Shine is a determined young lady, and she wants to study to become a lawyer in her future. 


Change The Truth is proud and hopeful for these young people as they begin their Secondary studies. It will indeed to be pleasure and privilege to watch them grow, mature,and find their interests during these upcoming years!