This morning we were up early in the hopes of getting to work by 8:00. Given it was Friday, and because of Shabbat, the school day ended at noon.
The curriculum team went back to the Grade two room to continue assessing reading levels. The students were so polite and stood to greet us. They were friendly, warm and welcoming. After an hour, we felt confident assigning reading levels and ready to begin our case study: will reading and listening simultaneously improve reading fluency faster than reading alone.
We did our pretest questionnaires and next week we will finish collecting data and implement the reading program. I am so taken by the fact that we all speak English, but have so much difficulty communicating. The use of vocabulary and context is quite literally worlds apart.
A Vancouver-based outerwear company, Stormtech, graciously donated 50 phys ed uniforms for the elementary school. After we finished testing, we handed out 50 brand new uniforms (shorts and t-shirts in 2 colors) to 50 kids. The looks on their faces was heartwarming. They clapped and smiled and couldn't wait to get passed a uniform. We had them all run to the soccer field and play a game of soccer. The whole school gathered around to watch and cheer and the sight was remarkable.
You wouldn't have thought the scene could get any better until Aaron set up the drone and videoed the game. Needless to say, the kids had no idea what they were watching. The expressions on their faces of awe and excitement were incredible. Our walking school bus team was all completely blown away and felt so privileged to witness the beautiful scene.
After lunch, we went to meet JJ Keki, founder of Delicious Peace Coffee Co-op. We drove up Mt. Elgon where the soil is rich and fertile and full of lush forest. We met up with JJ who took us on a beautiful hike to see an old synagogue where Jewish people prayed in secret during Idi Amin's rule. The synagogue was located high up on the mountain overlooking the beautiful country. The synagogue they used was a natural formation of beautiful boulders providing shelter. We learned about the origins of Judaism in Uganda and discussed the coffee farming business. After our spectacular hike and talks, JJ took us to his home and played his guitar for us. It was truly a beautiful moment to listen to him sing and play Hebrew music with many village children and people gathered around. The local people have welcomed us wholeheartedly.
As the sun began to set, we all walked down the hill to the synagogue to celebrate Shabbat. Quite honestly, it was a highlight. Nabagoya Village was dark, and the synagogue was shining bright. All of the village gathered, and the service began with l'cha dodi, drums, guitars, and tambourines. The synagogue was full of men, women and children all wishing us Shabbat Shalom. The Rabbi thanked us for the work we are doing in the village. We were worlds away from home, yet the service, the prayers and songs were the same.
We had no power or water today, but it didn't matter. We felt nothing but happiness and gratitude to be part of this incredible experience.
Wishing you peace and love from Mbale,
Written By: Michelle Gilman