More Rural Uganda Wanderings

A recap of my final days in the Mayuge District of rural Uganda. A look at the Peace Gospel International high school project, a glimpse into one of our classrooms during Chemistry, a walk through surrounding villages, soccer practice of the high school team, meal time, laundry time, dorm life, our women’s empowerment program during seamstress training, a look at the realities of water collection in the district, and finally, a sunset over Lake Victoria on my final day.

At the high school project, the newest building is almost complete. It will be the main building of the school with new facilities for the official chemistry lab, more classroom space, a library, and more administrative offices. The school has an enrollment of almost 250 students, most of which are boarding students.

Click/tap on any photo to start a slideshow.

Rural Uganda: Mayuge District

Deep in southeastern rural Uganda, near the intersection of Lake Victoria and the Kenya border, you will find a humble primary school in a village called Mairinya, usually not listed on any maps. The following photos document the joy these children get from their daily weekday classes and fresh breakfast and lunch that is provided lovingly by the dedicated staff.

Peace Gospel International has three schools in Uganda, one in urban Kampala (blogged about the previous two days), a rural high school (our biggest effort which has taken years to establish), and then, last but not least, our humble rural primary school which, along with its beautiful and gracious neighbors, is the focus of this blog post.

I love this little school as it’s kind of the little school “that could.” Despite a dire lack of resources and underpaid teachers, the school thrives, and the children are ecstatically eager to learn. When I look at their tattered school books, their handwriting and the comprehension of the subjects (based in English) is nothing short of miraculous, given their circumstances. This little oasis of education is proof that where you create an opportunity to learn, fill it with love, and fill stomachs with fresh meals, anything is possible.

We have big plans for the school, including security fences, a water well, new classrooms, more teachers, better latrines, and kitchen facilities. Learn more about the needs and how you can help.

Click/tap on any photo to start a slideshow. 

Kampala, Uganda Day 2: Katoogo Slum Colony, ‘She Has Hope’

My second day in Uganda brought me back to the beautiful people of the Katoogo Slum Colony where Peace Gospel International operates a school and nutrition outreach in conjunction with local leadership. Today I was able to be around to observe breakfast and lunch being served to our nearly 200 students, which is quite a feat for our school’s team to accomplish each day!

The Children’s Hope Center of Kampala is a new project of Peace Gospel, and although we lack the funds to adequately maintain the outreach, we’re doing the best we can with the limited funding available. That’s why you will see quite rudimentary facilities in my photos. As well, as mentioned in yesterday’s blog post, the school has been prone to flooding and that’s why the floors look roughshod. We are in the process of raising the level of the school to prevent further flooding. Funding is being sought from donations to provide more classroom space, more desks to replace ones damaged in the recent floods, and relief funding for stockpiling of food staples, which have doubled in price due to recent food shortages in Uganda. If you might be able to chip in toward our goal of $5,000 to shore up immediate needs, we would be grateful.

After lunch was served, I took some more photos of the classes in session, and then wandered around the colony meeting more of our amazingly resilient neighbors you’ll see in the photos after the school shots. They deal with so many challenges, yet most are able to maintain their smiles. Life is definitely hard in the colony with so many hazards present, not to mention unemployment, crime, and disease. Sewage waste accumulating in stagnant pools scattered throughout the colony and trash strewn about everywhere has created several health problems for the residents.

In brighter news, our new Kampala ‘She Has Hope‘ rehabilitation home has recently launched, being modeled after our Kathmandu, Nepal rehabilitation home. You’ll see some of the girls we’ve recently brought into our new home, and them enjoying their craft-making classes. The goal is to equip them with all the skills they need to enter the workforce as empowered citizens, fully realizing their potential, restoring them to a life full of hope.

Click/tap on any photo to start a slideshow. 

Uganda: Education and village life in Mayuge District

Thanks for stopping by to view my final summary of images from this trip to Uganda. In this set you’ll find more classroom scenes from the Peace Gospel rural high school that serves this part of Muyuge District. Peace Gospel is in the process of upgrading facilities yet again, to reach our final phases in obtaining accreditation for the school. The school includes boarding facilities, a kitchen and canteen, chemistry lab, and several classrooms. In the expansion currently underway, a library and computer lab will be included.

The high school offers the possibility for local rural residents to send their children to a nearby high school versus sending them to boarding schools in faraway towns. The school’s ability to charge a modest tuition to those families who can afford it allows us to offer scholarships to several orphan students who would otherwise never have the chance to go beyond seventh grade. “Primary Seven” (roughly equivalent to a U.S. seventh grade level) is usually the last easily accessible government education level available in the rural areas.

You’ll also find some scenes from our neighbor’s homes we visited near the main campus. For those of you uninitiated to Peace Gospel Uganda, when I refer to the “main campus” I’m referring to the Peace Gospel campus which contains the rural clinic, high school, farmland and women’s craft business development school.

Next in the set you’ll see photos from the Peace Gospel rural primary school. This school, located in a tiny village called Mairinya on the eastern edge of Mayuge District, not far from the Kenya border, offers a primary education from 1st to 7th grade. Before we started the school there was no access to education within a reasonable walking distance of the village. The school averages about 200 students who are all on scholarship to attend free of charge. They receive a fresh cooked breakfast and lunch each school day. The campus there also includes its own farmland, providing more fresh organic ingredients for our students’ meals.

After our visit to the rural primary school, we had the delight of visiting some of the local residents in neighboring villages. We also encountered many smiling faces along the winding dirt road that took us back to Jinja. I love this area dearly. I hope someday I can stay longer to document more of these super-simple villages with their gorgeously handcrafted mud huts and beautiful smiling residents.

Mayuge District, Uganda

[Note: I’ve been trying to upload this for 3 days so ‘today’ is not really ‘today’]

Today we made our way from Jinja to the Mayuge District where Peace Gospel International operates a high school, a rural clinic and a women’s business empowerment program. Mayuge District is located in eastern Uganda on the shores of Lake Victoria near the border of Kenya. The Ugandan school year kicks off in late February but it takes some time for all the students to register, especially in an election year. National elections were held last week and local elections are going on this week. We expect around 200 students to enroll this year once everything settles after the election security implementations.

There is so much activity on our main campus. A new school building, our largest building to be constructed on campus yet, is going up and should be ready soon– a major step needed in reaching our national accreditation. We also have several new latrines either just finished or still under construction, a new kitchen and a canteen from which the students can buy snacks at affordable prices (an effort to reduce the temptation to leave campus during the day). Not to mention the new solar solution provided by a grant from the Total Foundation. Among meeting other electricity needs, this has afforded us the ability to power a water pump from our well, thus providing running water on campus! Around campus, you will also see many children from our women’s business empowerment program playing while their moms practice their craft making skills in classes provided on campus.

Uganda: Kampala Slum Outreach, ‘The Children’s Hope Center’

Peace Gospel International operates a school in the slums of Uganda’s capital city, Kampala. Here are some shots I took at the school and around the slum colony today. The start of the Ugandan school year is this week, however due to the disruption of somewhat tumultuous elections, our enrollment at the school is a little lower than usual; it will be back to normal next week. However, there were plenty of students to interact with today, and you can just tell they’re sharp kids. As you can see in one of the photos, part of our school here has some challenges with flooding but we have some plans to remedy that.

Rural Uganda: Mairinya Primary School, Local Village Life

In a remote part of southeastern Uganda in a town called Mairinya, Peace Gospel International’s local team operates a K-7 primary school serving about 200 children in the area. These children have no other access to education within a reasonable walking distance.

The school provides a warm porridge breakfast and a fresh-cooked lunch for the children each school day. The facility consists of 3 buildings and 4 pit latrines. The two main school buildings are seen in the first photo. Our first building is the temporary wooden one with dirt floors seen to the left, and the newer, permanent one is seen at right. The other nearby building across the road serves as office, storage and kitchen space.

I was deeply impressed with the children’s understanding of the material they were studying and their command of the English language. The staff are warm and very fun-loving toward the children, led by the gregarious example of Mr. Moses, their dedicated and hard-working headmaster who takes the bus two hours each way to reach the village. Dedication! Four other women work as support staff, preparing and serving meals and providing other assistive duties on campus. Their joy is contagious as you’ll see in the photos.

In the second portion of this post I’ll introduce you to the villagers and village scenes around the school, to give you a better idea of the local lifestyle and dwellings.

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Breakfast is served! Fresh-cooked porridge, which they either drink straight from the cup or with a leaf spoon like this little guy has here.

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After breakfast classes begin!

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We were able to purchase some new uniforms last week, and the children were excited to try them on. But we still have several we need to purchase. At about $10 per child and 200 children, it’s not a small expense. Don’t they look great?!

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The rest of the children were measured for uniforms. While they were waiting in line for their measurements, I took a few photos (surprising, I know).

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Then it was back to class, with me making plenty of interruptions, of course.

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By then we were hungry again and broke for lunch which consisted of rice and beans. During harvest times we are able to prepare the meals using organically grown ingredients from our farmland and garden project.

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The water source in Mairinya is not very safe and many of the children are complaining of common water-borne illnesses. We are in the process of getting funding together for a new safe water bore well which will be located on campus and made available to the entire village. You can see in this photo the water being served to the children is quite murky.

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The ever-jovial support staff…

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After lunch I spent more time around the classrooms and got a few more shots of these beautiful children who are all so happy to be in school. The girls of the K-4th classes send you their love…

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And for my Canadian friends…

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Now to take you around two or three of the local villages in this area… the people are so welcoming and the children always excited to see a foreign face. I’m sure they must think I’m a bit crazy, taking interest in what they see as simple everyday life. You’ll see the ubiquitous yellow jerry-cans which the children will carry for miles to reach local wells, some safe, some not very safe, to fill up with the day’s water needs.

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