Another busy day in Uganda for the Walking School Bus team! After a good night’s sleep, we headed back on the bumpy road to Putti Village. Again, we were greeted by loud cheers and so much excitement from all of the children in the school. Seeing their smiles and happy faces was the perfect way to start our working day.
After saying our hellos, we took out the soccer balls that we had brought with us all the way from Vancouver. The excitement was contagious and within seconds, a game began. Seeing how even the small gift of a soccer ball can bring so much happiness was a beautiful sight. Once we had a chance to play with the kids, the team rolled up their sleeves and got to work on the different projects that we had started the day before.
Now that the library was cleaned out and painted, the team began to build bookshelves to hold the donations of supplies and books that were generously donated by so many people in the Vancouver community. Although the design of the bookshelf had to be modified to accommodate the resources that were available, the team was able to problem solve, build and sand most of the bookshelf that will be ready for varnishing tomorrow. We are all very excited to see the end result in a couple of days.
Work on framing inside of the container continued and the progress has been steadily moving ahead thanks to the hard work of the men in Village and Aaron who worked into the late hours of the night. Only in Uganda is work done by candlelight when the generator goes!
Testing continued today and a few members of our team began working with the teachers at the school to gather information about each student’sbackground, nutrition and reading backgrounds. With help from teachers, students and a lot of perseverance, we managed to collect surveys from all of the students. Hearing first hand that so many students walk over an hour to school on an empty stomach was a reminder of the importance of The Walking School Buses nutritional program. While our team worked with the students to collect data, there were many opportunities to connect with the students - at one point, an impromptu singing session broke out… who would have guessed that the hokey pokey is universal? A highlight was the children standing to sing the Ugandan anthem.
In addition to sponsoring 10 students at the High School, we also received funding to sponsor 5 additional students at Putti Village. Wanting to have an equal split of Jewish, Christian and Muslim students, TWSB added another student to sponsor. We met the students, all of whom are orphans and live at the school. I wish I could explain the abject poverty in which these children live. They live in a shed no bigger than a closet and all sleep on mats on the floor. Their meager belongings are strewn over a makeshift clothesline above them. What a gift to be able to offer these children hope of a brighter future.
After a hard day’s work, the team drove to the home of the legendary founder of Delicious Peace Coffee Cooperative, JJ Kekki. JJ led us up a mountain trail to the Rock Synagogue which overlooks the farms in the valley below. As the group sat on the edge of the rock, JJ shared the history of the synagogue which was used by the Jewish people in the area in the 1970s to practice their religion in secrecy. He told us his story and the inspiration behind his collaboration with the Christian and Muslim farmers. The wind and clouds created the perfect backdrop. JJ welcomed us all into his home just in time to escape from the downpour and then ended the afternoon on a beautiful musical note.
We had such a nice evening back at the Guest House, playing chess, cards and enjoying eachother’s company. This shared experience makes for lasting an