Kibuye Project overview

AASU’s first community project is focusing on the village of Kibuye in North Eastern Kamuli, on the shores of the Victoria Nile. Kibuye has an estimated population of 60,000 people and is spread over 27 by 35km. The majority of the population is highly dependent on subsistence farming and barter trade within village in order to survive.

Before the project began, Kibuye was dependent upon one borehole for safe drinking water. Due to long lines when collecting water many have been choosing to fetch water from the river, which has caused illness through water born diseases. The village also only has one school, consisting of two classrooms accommodating roughly 600 children. The children that can’t walk the distance to the school simply don’t attend. The majority of children do not attend school, either due to distance or family circumstance, consequentially 80% of Ugandans over the age of 15 are illiterate.

So far within the Kibuye project AASU has been able to buy four acres of land at the East end of the village on which we have built a bore hole and are currently building classrooms for the Arise and Shine Nursery and Primary School which is due to open for the start of the school year in February 2011.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ali’s Blog: Uncle Ali
[An intro line about me being a volunteer here].
My first full week in Uganda was spent in the AASU babies home in Jinja, during which time I’ve had a lot of fun getting to know and playing with the kids staying there.
I haven’t worked with kids much previously, so I wasn’t sure how easy I would find working in the babies home. The kids soon decided for me. On my first visit, after the initial shyness had worn off, within a few minutes I had a number of them climbing all over me! From then on I knew there wouldn’t be any problem playing with the kids. The thing I thought would be most difficult would be learning all their names, especially as there are 3 sets of twins. However by Wednesday I felt I pretty much had them all learnt, spending time with them all and getting to know their different personalities made this much easier than expected. A slight spanner was thrown in the works on Thursday when a set of identical triplets joined the home, all with names beginning with the letter L! I haven’t even tried to learn who’s who out of these new arrivals!

Each morning when I arrived, I would usually be greeted by one or two of the kids running and grabbing my legs. Who these were varied day to day, but the usual suspects were Fiona and Venekent who have been my limpets for the week, one of them was usually hanging on to me somehow during the day, if not both.

                                       (Photo: The usual suspects – Venekent and Fiona)
                                        In the morning after breakfast the kids have preschool. This is a mixture of both sitting down with the teacher inside, learning basic English, and going outside and playing games or singing songs in either English or Luganda. My role in the preschool sessions would vary – sometimes it was best for me to hang back while they were focused on the teacher, other times when some of their attention had already been lost I’d try to help by either stopping them from disturbing the others or trying to go through the lesson with the breakaway group. At times the preschool sessions have been pretty chaotic, it’s not surprising when there are 16 toddlers in a room, getting them to sit down and pay attention is always going to be a challenge. I can’t remember what preschool was like back home but it’s probably the same. What was impressive though is that when the teacher would ask the kids about what they’ve learnt they’d remember a really good amount and sometimes you’d hear them saying things from class during the day.
On Friday during preschool I did some one-on-one teaching with Federes , which I’d been thinking of doing for a couple of days as she’s a bit older than the others and was clearly finding the classes too easy. I knew she could just about count to 20, so I thought we’d just go over that and a bit more. I was really impressed though when we kept going all the way to 100 and even started to learn some spelling of some of the words she already knew how to say. The little I did with her that morning was really rewarding as she was very keen to learn and as soon as she’s able to I’m sure she’ll do really well in school.

Overall, it’s been a really good week in the babies home working/playing with the kids and getting to know them. It’ll be sad not to see them every day but I’m also looking forward to the new challenges and experiences in the village – first helping in the school and then working on the community education projects.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Some of our products

 The majority of Arise and Shine Uganda’s project funds come from people buying and selling our beautiful handmade products. All of our products are made by ladies that previously had little or no income, as a way of earning money to support their families. As our paper bead necklaces and jewellery have proved to be popular, we have decided to diversify our range and are in the process of making fabric beaded jewellery as well. This new range means that we are able to employ and train more women. At the moment we are trialling the jewellery being made by women in town, but with the imminent arrival of our international volunteers, we also hope to be able to set up a fabric bead making group in the village as part of our community outreach work there.

We are looking forward to being able to post pictures of our new products soon!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Results time at AASU Nursery & Primary School

As we mentioned previously, the 18th of April marked the end of our first term at Arise and Shine Nursery & Primary School. Before term finished, our pupils took their end of term exams.  We decided to set the bar high from the outset, with our students taking the ‘National Standard Exam’ which dictates the country wide standard for students studying in town schools across Uganda. It is not unusual for students studying in villages to receive an easier version of this exam, however, at Arise and Shine Uganda, we want our students to be given the best possible chances in life and able to compete with the rest of the country, not just with ‘village people’. Therefore, we have chosen to educate them to a national level, which may appear difficult to begin with but which will stand our students in good stead in the long run.

As our students have never been examined before, and given the high quality of examination given to them, we were unsure as to how well they would do, or how their parents would react (if students performed badly, it’s possible parents may not take into consideration the difficulty of the exam and would instead blame the school for not teaching their children properly). However, students surpassed our expectations and parents were thrilled to see the high standard we were setting for their children!

The examinations were completed by 50 students, spread between Nursery and Primary 3 level. All students took 7 exams in the following subjects: Literacy 1 (Science), Literacy 2 (Social Studies), Mathematics, English Language, Luganda Language, Writing and Reading.

The students’ performances in all these subjects were beyond our anything we could have hoped for and overall all we met national average level, much to the delight of Arise and Shine Uganda and the children’s parents!

Some of the parents even asked for extra examination papers and news reached us that they were showing it and bragging, about the high standard of the examinations and excellent performances of their children, to other parents in and around the Kibuye trading centre.

Arise and Shine Nursery & Primary School staff, teachers and parents are so proud of our students and believe we will do even better next term.

AASU would like to say a big congratulations to all at Arise and Shine Nursery & Primary School (staff, students and parents), we’re very proud of you!