There was a feeling of frenetic energy in the guesthouse this morning as we scheduled our last day at both Nabagoya and Putti Villages.
We began at Semei Kakungulu High School to administer the bus questionnaire to the high school students. Their responses were upsetting, to say the least, with fear of kidnapping and sexual assault en route to school an all too common response. We can't emphasize enough how much these communities need a school bus and we are planning our return here shortly to make the bus a reality. The agricultural team made sure that their three-pronged approaches of water catchment, CSA gardens, and an incredible chicken coop were effectively implemented with incredible community support.
Then, on to Hadassah Primary School for Day 2 of the reading program. When Aaron and Michelle went into the classroom the students were so excited to split into their respective groups. As luck would have it, all of the students who were absent yesterday, were back today. There was no wifi again, but Aaron read out loud. It's almost funny that we dealt with every possible problem the first day, and the teachers are now able to troubleshoot without us. After we finished reading with our groups, the students were sad to say goodbye to us - they were the sweetest and most appreciative children.
Okay, so it wasn't all them - we were incredibly sad to say goodbye to the students we built beautiful relationships with...
We then met with the Headmaster, grade 3 teachers, computer specialist, head of English (I use these terms loosely). We had to teach them how to assess the students in 30 days. Michelle went through the protocol and we videoed the process in order to leave them with an instructional tool. The meeting went exceedingly well and we really believe they understand all that is required on their part.
Then, the goodbyes...
We put hundreds of hours into this reading program not knowing how it would really work in a developing country. Could we really create a program with the potential to help students all over improve their reading fluency?
It's hard to articulate the messages and the thanks you's we received from the team at Hadassah. They are beyond thankful to have this reading program at their disposal. They can't wait for the study to be over and get the whole school using the programs.
There were the most genuine and heartfelt hugs between all of us. And some tears. We walked out of Hadassah Primary optimistic that all of our work would pay off. It's easier to leave with a return trip planned and with a mix of joy and sadness, we left the school.
On to Putti Village. We went to say goodbye and see all of our agricultural projects finished. The chicken coop, garden, and water catchment are incredible and are tangible improvements for this very poor community. We left them food, water, and a passive income. We can't emphasize enough how grateful they were for our support. The teachers told us on Tuesday that they have never had a real ball. So, we brought them 2 soccer balls and the excitement was crazy.
Then, the hugs and thank you's. And more tears.
We have spent 10 days in the poorest of conditions with no complaints: no running water, using a single Jerry can for a "shower", off and on power, beans, and rice or peas for lunch and dinner. We have been exhausted, hot and hungry. And we would all come back in a heartbeat and do it all over again.
We are a quiet group tonight taking in all that we saw and all that we accomplished. 12 people from all over the world who came together to help students access education through improved transportation, nutrition and curriculum.
12 people who made a real difference in the lives of 2 small villages. 2 small villages that made the biggest difference in all of our lives.
Written By: Michelle, Sukriti and Aaron