Yesterday was a big event in the lives of our children in Uganda. They finished school for the year and had a celebration. They won’t go back until February. I remember the feeling of the last day of school. A long summer break stretched out before me and I could see that I was free to enjoy my days. It might be the best feeling to know there is a big break in front of you from hard work.
These children started school in the second term this year. Their performance was ok the first term. The second term we hired Kiah to come in the afternoons and tutor the children with their school work. She did more than tutor them she became a homeschooling mom for them. This term, almost all of the children were top performers in their class. The ones who were lagging behind last term, stepped up and showed us all what they can do.
Phiona, Robert and Kiah are so proud of them. I am too. Having the gift of an education in Uganda is always a treasured opportunity for a child. There are too many children everywhere I see during the day hanging around when they should be in school. There’s no opportunity for a free education there like we know it in our country. The children in Uganda feel thankful, privileged, and honored to be able to get an education. They want to go to school. They have been taught and generations have passed it on that the only opportunity to escape the cage of poverty is to get smart and take the education seriously.
I sat on the plane next to a Ugandan man who is a college professor now in a rural town in Kentucky. He explained to me how much he struggled through his life to keep his education going despite not having any resources to do it. He worked so hard in school to be the top of his class just in case there would be rewards of scholarship handed out. He did get a scholarship to college, and again for his PhD. Now he teaches in America. I have to believe the economic students in his class are equally blessed by his character and drive to reach his goals as they are to learn about his expertise in economics.
Three of our little scholars, Desire, Christine, and Boniface graduated out of kindergarten into first grade yesterday. The school dressed them up in robes and mortar boards, provided a celebratory cake, and they were given a wrapped present to honor a great accomplishment. Phiona reports the children believed they were the most important people on this earth for that moment.
I received an email from Kiah thanking me for the wall charts I brought on my last trip. They are full of encouragement on character and learning. She said Musa was particularly moved by one that said, “you can do it”. No one in his life has told him he is worth much or can do much, and to be encouraged to believe in himself was a new idea. He got it from all sides, “you can do it”, and he did it. He was first in his class. He once gave us so much trouble, but when we showed him love, and told him we believed in the good in him, he accepted it. Believing in himself and knowing others do too changed everything for him. The idea that excites me is they have only been in our care for seven months! In such a short time they have blossomed so much I can only imagine and hope for what good they will do with their lives.
Personally, I want to thank all of the sponsors who made it possible for these children to attend school this year. Thank you for providing the gift of education to these children who were the ones sitting on a tree stump playing with pebbles and sticks for math and looking at road signs to understand how letters are formed. These fifteen children will have a world of opportunity opened to them because you cared enough to provide them the privilege of school.
This thanksgiving week, I am thankful for all of you who are helping us support these children and make a change in their lives and set a new course for the generations that come after them. I am thankful to be useful to God in this way. Each morning when I awake the day has promise and purpose I never knew possible, and its’ because I am able to connect people who want to help with children who need the help. It is my honor to do this work.