I had the most educational and interesting day preparing the children at the orphanage to be students for the year. Abdul picked me up early in the morning, we and we fought the “first day of school” traffic. There is the same buzz in the air here on this momentous occasion as there is in the USA.
Our first stop was to find the office supply store in the maze of downtown businesses. Abdul did all of the negotiating and calculating for me. I just absorbed the whole process, watching with my eyes the answers appear to all of my questions.
The students need three things on their supply list: a notebook for every course, a pencil and four rolls of toilet paper. You carry your own. We bought eight boxes of notebooks, hundreds of pencils, some pens, and I tossed in some colored pencils for fun.
The man from the store loaded up a dolly, and rolled our purchases along the busy streets to our parked car a five block walk away.
Next we went to the supermarket to buy a ridiculously big supply of toilet paper.
Phiona was waiting for us at the orphanage where she had her laptop out listing the uniform and shoe needs of every child.
We loaded up the secondary students into the car and drove to their new school. Oh my, they were so nervous. They have to bring with them their report card to present to the registrar who will grill them on their character and performance. One of the boys was so nervous because he lost his report card. He sat in the car and prayed for a miracle to be admitted into his school.
Apparently I was the way God chose to give him an answer to his prayer. My presence there gave credibility to these marginal students. Any time a mzungu shows up it is an occasion to remember for them, and it’s just so weird that I wear that hat. But with a lot of consideration and many warnings these students were allowed into the school. I told the woman that Phiona worked for Kirabo Seeds and goes to the children to help them with their studies as a tutor. She liked that a lot.
I had to explain to the children that they need to remember it is an extreme honor to have a sponsor and their responsibility now is to do their very best to be excellent students. Because there is a better student out there who would really like to have a sponsor and doesn’t. Also we reminded them to not be shy when they do not understand something. I told them to ask their teacher for help until the confusion goes away. That’s their job. They accepted this with sober faces.
Sometimes I have to catch my breath and really believe that I’m able to influence these beautiful children in such an important way. These are things mamas do for their kids, and here I am in Africa on the first day of school. I thought I was coming for the trial and to work out details for opening our own organization here, but God arranged it so I could be here to help them kick off their new year of education. I’m so full of gratitude. And once again, I remember how much I love this volunteer job I do.
The next obstacle is the six students at this school have a long long journey to take every day. Last year, they walked to school for two hours each way. Picture an amble, not a rushed sweaty walk. That’s too far to walk. So I offered to fundraise for bicycles. Abigail Anthis has been selling friendship bracelets all year and she’s already given me enough for one bike. (she is ten years old.) Anna Grace Kennedy donated her 50 dollars from Christmas towards a bicycle. We are considering buying three bikes and having the boys pedal girls who sit on a seat side saddle on the back. Let’s be frank, some of the girls are bigger than the boys. I see a real struggle there. The girls do not want to bike themselves. But I’m beginning to think they should reconsider. How badly do they want their education? Sometimes we have to be uncomfortable in order to reach our goals. For goodness sakes, I’m here itching mosquito bites hoping my malaria medicine is working, using pit latrines, taking cold showers and going without electricity at random intervals all so that I can help these kids have a better life. We all have to compromise. So I think I would like to get five bikes and encourage the girls to take charge of their future and overcome their attitude about biking to school. We’ll see how they take this recommendation. What they really want is a boda ride (motorcycle taxi) every day which would cost five dollars a student each day. NO WAY.
Next on the day’s agenda was taking the little children to register for primary school. There are three little ones who are beginning school for the first time. Two of them are available to sponsor if anyone is interested. We sat them on a bench in the head master’s office, the color drained from their faces and their eyes grew to be saucers. There are forty five students in this school that are sponsored by Kirabo Seeds. We have our own file. It says “kyamuwendo” but we are going to get that changed to Kirabo Seeds. This is a new beginning.
I had to apologize to the head master for all the trouble he experienced with this group last year. His eyes grew red and watery as I spoke. I explained that I collected the help of the sponsors, sent all of the money for full tuition to Adams. But Adams had negotiated half price with this man, put a deposit and never paid the full bill. When I arrived last October we had debts, and I paid them from my personal account. I think we all know where the balance of that money went. And that is part of the criminal file we have beginning in court today where I am the primary witness.
I said to the head master, I personally guarantee the full payment of every one of these children. He smiled at me and said, “get it to me in a week’s time please.” Yes sir. Before I left, Phiona inquired if Fred could get special bus transportation since he is lame. I put a little pressure on him since we are sending so many students to his school, and so we agreed for 35 dollars a term he can ride the bus. I’m going to have a private talk with him later about treating this boy with respect, and giving him aid if he needs it. Last year at the other school he was frequently chased away. He failed his courses and has to repeat the whole year. We are going to do our best to make sure Fred is not overlooked.
It is time for me to get dressed for our court date. The power is back on! And that means, I enjoyed some coffe as I blogged, I am taking a hot shower, my camera battery is charged, my phone will work and I can post this blog. The simple things are so appreciated.
I promise to add photos later. It takes fifteen minutes to up load one picture, and it’s important that I look good today, so I’m going to get to work on that. But while I’m bored waiting for my turn in court…I’ll add photos.