we strive to cross

This is our school motto at Naama S.S. – “crossing” a river represents overcoming challenges, beating the odds…

Last week was the beginning of Term I. But things move slowly here and Ugandans aren’t too fond of schedules; students and teachers trickled in, a handful more coming every day. The kids who did show up took Beginning of Term (BOT) Exams, which are averaged with End of Term (EOT) Exams for their final grades.

I don’t know if I agree with the concept of BOT’s. Students are coming off a 2 month holiday, they aren’t given time to review, and teachers aren’t available even if they did have questions. It’s rare that they are able to study at home, for exams or at any other point during the term, especially if they are from deep in the villages.

It’s a near-impossible task to communicate to struggling families, usually with uneducated parents, that they should allow their children time to do school work every night. To them, it’s bad enough that schools take their children for 10 hours a day. When kids get home, they work: they cook, they wash, they dig (garden), they go to the market to sell the extra food… Then they eat what may be their only meal of the day, grab a few hours of sleep, and wake up to work some more before they walk or (if they’re lucky) ride their bike 5 km or 10 km or 15 km to school.

I’m thinking about weighing BOT’s less, and EOT’s more, but I’m not sure how easily I could get that approved. I’m also thinking about ways to start addressing these issues more seriously with parents at the PTA meeting coming up.

This week is supposed to be the big move in day. I’m thrilled to finally be able to settle in, though the hotel I’m currently at is wonderful, and I’m grateful to have been so well taken care of while I’ve been homeless for the past month.

I am starting to get my first real taste of the insane amount of free and alone time volunteers have in PC. Although yesterday at the market, a van full of Americans pulled up beside me – such a lovely surprise!

Mzungus (whites) have this crazy sense of camaraderie here: if you see a mzungu in your town, you become best friends pretty much immediately. I guess it’s just nice to hear a familiar accent, someone you don’t have to repeat yourself to 7 times before you’re understood, someone who’s not trying to charge you five times the normal price of an egg, someone who can relate to what you’re experiencing on a level that your friends & family at home can’t…

It turned out that this family runs an orphanage just 2 km outside of town; I hopped in and spent a few hours with them, touring the facilities and playing with the babies. They have 30+ orphans and could always use an extra hand, so I’m sure I’ll be back. They even offered to pick me up green tea in Kampala (PC doesn’t allow us into the city) and have me over for lunch!

Cheers to new friends, and old…


Three things can cause sorrow to flee:
water, green trees, and a beautiful face.
[African Proverb – Morocco]


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