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.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Teaching in the Arise and Shine Primary School!

My name is Katharina, I just turned 26 while I was here in Uganda and I am from Germany. It seems my time here is flying! Already 2 months have passed and so many things have happened.

The main task I do for AASU is teaching English in their Nursery & Primary School in Kibuye village, where I also live from Monday to Thursday every week, the rest of the time I am in Jinja (or travelling around this beautiful country). But of course, and luckily, I didn’t go straight to the village when I arrived, first I enjoyed a good few days in Jinja, where AASU’s offices and Babies’ Home is based. During this time I could acclimatise myself to the Ugandan weather and culture, get to know the people here and the way they live, get to know all the lovely children in the Babies’ Home and learn more about how AASU works in detail.

Michelle (right), me, and Cow Dina!
One very interesting adventure happened here at the very beginning. Another volunteer from the Netherlands, Michelle, who was here in the Baby’s Home for only 3 weeks, decided to buy a cow for the children there as AASU couldn’t afford to buy milk for all children every day and so only the very small ones got it until then. She had raised some money already before she came here and when her friends and family heard she wanted to buy a cow they even sent her more money! Unfortunately, it still wasn’t enough to afford a pregnant cow that would give enough milk as it turned out that they are quite expensive here. So I promised to give the rest of the 
money from the donations I raised before I came here. It was even not easy to find cows here for sale and finally they found a good one for 2,200,000 UGX, which are more than 700€!

So we went there to buy the cow from the farmer (who must be a rich man now!) and brought it to the Baby’s Home, where all the children and the staff were so excited to welcome the new inhabitant of the Baby’s Home! The children were screaming “Ente, ente!” which means cow in Luganda and immediately had their cup ready to drink as soon as we started milking the cow. We decided to name the cow Dina, and I hope she will have a good and long life there and give a lot of milk so that all the children can have a healthy diet! Now and then you here a “mooooooo” around the house which scared the children first, but now they are used to it and they know at least where the milk comes from - better than some children in Europe who might think it comes just from the fridge in the supermarket!

Teaching at the Arise and Shine Primary School. One of the
classroom blocks is not yet finished so some classes
study from under trees.
In my first days I also started my research and preparations about the special reading and writing classes I wanted to do with the pupils at the Arise and Shine Primary School, as they found out last term that it is where they ally need extra help. For that reason I visited the village and the school first for only one day, after which I never could imagine myself to stay there actually for 3 nights and 4 days every week like I do now! It was all so different to what I am used to.

So to start, I stayed only one night to observe the lessons how they are now and got back quite shocked: that is how I imagine my parents or even grandparents were taught! And although I am not a teacher, just from remembering the English lessons I had in Germany I was thinking I could do that maybe better or at least in another way, that is not just the teacher saying something and the children repeating it without any thinking on their own. But it turned out it is not just that easy to change the children’s habits and make them think themselves – they are, after all, used to being taught in a much different way than I was. And they’re too worried about getting something wrong – but it’s lovely to see how happy and motivated they are when they get something right! The teachers always say that the children are slow learners and at first I didn’t like that word, but whatever speed they are moving it they are definitely learning and improving and that is wonderful to see. Sometimes it is a bit frustrating when they don’t understand things as quickly as I expected, but I guess that is just how a teacher’s life is!

Lauren, Myrthe, Renee, and Suzan, some of
AASU's other volunteers, outside our house
in the village!
The first two weeks I was the only volunteer staying in the village and life there was quite an adventure on its own. However, the teachers are very helpful and show you how to survive! Although I am very glad that I have more company now with Lisa, another Muzungu (that is what they call white people here) who is also teaching at the school, and also Renee and Myrthe, two Dutch volunteers working with pregnant women and those with young children, teaching them about healthcare, nutrition and even stimulating play. I’m really enjoying having more company in the village now, and the teachers are already talking about the improvement they see in the children. And then when I’m back in the Babies’ Home I see Cow Dina and how all the children are enjoying her milk, which is a lovely sight.

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