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SMK Violin Classes- 2015

Posted on November 21, 2015 at 8:25 AM

For over 2 years, SMK has had the unique opportunity to offer Violin lessons to students. Violin is not a typical instrument learned here in Uganda, so these classes really set SMK apart from other area schools. These weekly classes have been a joint funding effort of American-based, Strings for Uganda, and Ugandan-based, Kampala Music School. Both have been exceptional partners and supporters of this program.

 

During the 2015 school year, there were 17 students in Primary 5 and Primary 6 who gave their time and hard work to learn this complex instrument. Teacher Samuel, a proficient violin player and music teacher from Kampala Music School, came faithfully every week to strengthen, encourage, and motivate students to progress their talents in violin. With Teacher Samuel’s influence and diligence, this past year violin students have displayed growth in violin handling and caretaking, note reading and playing from assigned sheet music, and performance etiquette.

 

On the very last day of violin classes, a small concert was hosted for the student body of SMK. It proved to be an excellent showcase of talents, as well as a great recruitment tool for next year’s classes. Students from each of the 3 violin classes performed splendidly and confidently.

 

These classes will take a break for the long holiday. They will resume again in February. Special thanks to teaching staff at SMK Primary School, Stings for Uganda supporters, Nick & Lindsey, Kampala Music School and funders, Fred & Noreen, and of course, our talented Teacher Samuel. With the collective support of everyone, these violin students are making beautiful music!

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2015 SMK Violin Group (with Teacher Samuel)

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SMK Beginning Violin Class performing at End of Year Concert.

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SMK Primary 5 Violin Class

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SMK Primary 6 Violin Class (with Teacher Samuel)

 

 

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

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…

 

 

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The Pope is Coming! The Pope is Coming!

Posted on November 6, 2015 at 4:00 AM

At the end of this month from November 27-29, Uganda will be hosting the Catholic Pope. While I am not Catholic, I can't offer much more information than the basics.  Pope Francis will be at least the 3rd Pope to make visit to Uganda since their Independence. Specifically, Pope Francis will be in Uganda to mark the 50th anniversary of Pope Paul VI's canonisation during the first visit by a pontiff to Africa of 22 Catholic martyrs -- converts to Christianity who were executed in the 19th century.

 

 

Schools will conclude their academic year a few days early for this special event. Pope Francis has publically shared his wishes for conservative transportation and freedoms to travel amongst the villages and impoverished areas of Kampala. I am sure there will be joy and mayhem abounding during those few days.  It is indeed an exciting time for Uganda!  More updates to follow…

 

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.

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Petra in 2011.

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Petra last week during her P7 Leaver's Party

 

 

2015 National Examinations in Uganda

Posted on November 1, 2015 at 1:55 AM

Every year during the months of October and November, Uganda facilitates 3 National Examinations for particular classes of students. From my experiences here in Uganda, I continue to maintain that education in Uganda is a privilege, not a right. The Uganda Education System is currently structured like a 3-tiered pyramid. After taking each of these highly revered National Examinations only the brightest are eligible to advance up the educational tier to the next level, as long as they can afford the hefty school fees associated with continued education.

 

The first or bottom tier occurs at the conclusion of Primary 7, which is the final year of Primary Education. Students sit for a 2-day examination called the Primary Leaving Examination (PLE). There is a single comprehensive examination of each Mathematics, English, Science and Social Students covering any topic studied in Primary School. These scores will determine a student’s eligibility to enroll in Secondary School. On average only about 45% of Primary 7 students will ever attend even a single lesson in Secondary School. Last year, there were 585,000 students completing the PLE. In 2015, PLE Exams are scheduled for November 2-3.

 

The next or middle tier occurs at the end of Senior 4, which is like 11th grade in America. Students in this grade will be taking 10 subjects. Those required subjects for all students are: Mathematics, English, Physics, Chemistry, History, Geography, and Biology. Then students will take 3 other Elective subjects, like Foreign Language, Fine Art, Literature, Computer, Business, Agriculture, etc. Students usually take 2-3 individual examinations in each subject, where the average score of the individual exams calculates their Final Grade. When all is completed students take between 20-24 individual examinations. With so many subjects these examinations take about 1 month to complete. These National Examination scores will determine the eligibility for students to continue in the final 2 years of Secondary studies, as well as the class combination that they are allowed to study. Last year, there were 304,200 students completing Senior 4 Exams. In 2015, Senior 4 National Examinations are scheduled for October 12- November 13.

 

The final tire occurs at the conclusion of Senior 6, which is the final year of Secondary Education. At this level, students are taking 3 specialized classes, in addition to General Paper (topics that should be understood by any student of this level) and Mathematics/Computers. The individual class combinations will determine your future prospects in University. For example, only those students studying Biology and Chemistry could ever aspire to be a doctor here in Uganda. Only those students taking Physics and Mathematics could ever aspire to be an engineer here in Uganda. Similar to the Senior 4 examinations, there are 2-3 individual examinations in each subject where the average score is considered their Final Grade. When all is completed, students take between 10-14 individual examinations. These Senior 6 Examinations also take about 1 month to complete. These examination results will determine a student’s eligibility to admission at a University and which course they could pursue at enrollment. Last year, there were 107,100 students completing the Senior 6 Exams. In 2015, Senior 6 National Examinations are scheduled for November 9- December 4.

 

With these National Examinations, there is NO room for error, sickness, or fatigue. There are no retakes, and the results are non-negotiable. There is a lot riding for Ugandan youth on the outcome of these National Examinations… so let us all wish them the very best!!

 

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!

 

Entebbe Bypass Highway Thru Kawali update

Posted on October 28, 2015 at 2:35 AM

The Entebbe Express Highway project continues to progress. In Phase 1 of the project, the highway has been constructed in non-residential areas. During Phase 2 of the project, residents will be paid a ‘fair market value’ for their property and be displaced as the highway runs through villages. During Phase 3 of the project, the road will be paved and somehow toll markers will be established.

 

Currently, the project is nearing the end of Phase 1. Here is Kajjansi the highway has been constructed through the Kawali area connecting Mutungo to Kajjansi. The road is open for public usage and being used as a short-cut access road for cars, boda-boda motorcycles, people walking and even moving cattle. There is a detour road into Kajjansi where the current highway construction has stopped.

 

During Phase 2 when the highway in Kawali is connected through Kajjansi, hundreds of people will lose their homes, businesses, and even a church. While they will be compensated, this new road will cause some incredible changes to the area. SMK will actually be on the other side of the highway, thus eliminating the easy access to Kajjansi.

 

As I have shared before, Kajjansi will actually be the intersection point between this new Express Highway and the existing Entebbe Road. While it is still unclear how the roads will intersect (like either a round-about or an overpass), there is presently a lot of work happening in that area!

 

There will always be changes as development occurs, so we will adapt to a new way of doing things when the time comes. Will continue to keep you posted with more updates as they happen.

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End of the current phase of the project... This church and other residence will be

demolished to connect this road through Kajjansi.

 

 

Kawali Rock Quarry

Posted on October 26, 2015 at 4:30 AM

When the Entebbe Express Highway was constructed through Kawali (which will be the next blog post), the cliffs of Kawali became a rock quarry. These rocks are free ($$) for the taking. I have spent some time watching these workers, and it never fails to astound me!

 

Rocks are hand harvested and loaded. Men can be found with a rudimentary instrument similar to a crow bar to pry these large boulders from the cliffs. Several men then hoist these stones into the back of trucks and take them away for whatever job. Some people (mainly women or elderly men) have set up small work stations at the rock quarry. They use homemade hammer-like tools to smash stones into smaller bits which they can sell.

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Kawali Water Source

Posted on October 24, 2015 at 5:30 AM

As I previously mentioned, Kawali is the location of a fresh water spring that trickles into a small stream. It is one of the few free ($$) water sources in our area. Some houses have piped water (like mine) through the water company, so other community members can pay residence for usage of their outside water faucet. However, most residence use the Kawali water source. So early in the morning and in evening before dark dozens of people make the pilgrimage with their plastic jerrycans to fill water for their household (washing, bathing, cleaning, cooking). Incidentally, if a problem occurs with SMK’s bore hole (water pump), the children walk to this stream in Kawali for their water.

 

One of the challenges with an open community water source is people also use it for other purposes. Cows drink from this source. People collect water to wash their clothes. People wash their boda-boda motorcycles or bicycles. People even use it for bathing. So it is definitely not clean water… but it is what is available.

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Kawali spring water in middle... boda motorcycle being washed, while others are washing clothes


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