Wednesday, July 23, 2008
by Kelly Kiki

TIA—This is Africa

TIU—This is Uganda

We have been in Uganda for seven days now and I am still traveling from location to location searching for answers that can cure the ailing education system. Hope 4 Kids International’s (H4KI) Tools 4 Schools (T4S) has taken upon itself to commit to bridging the gab between the scale of emergency and the scale of response in Uganda.

Once again, we, myself and Kathee Gaskin, have begun to see the success of all of our prayers, gifts, and financial support. Last year we visited primary, secondary, and university schools collecting information that would help us understand the African approach to education.

What we discovered last year is that our eyes did not lie. From student, teacher, administrator to parent all accounts led to the same: education is failing the children of Uganda.

With the release of Natalie Eggum’s doctoral research in Uganda on the resiliency of the children and how stressors in life, extreme poverty, violence, and death, affect children’s adjustment and development. What was revealed was that children saw education as the leading cause for HOPE.

In our commitment to bring HOPE to the children of Uganda, Kathee and I once again visited Joseph Wanjala’s school HeReigns Secondary. The students, staff, and Mr. Wanjala greeted us with songs and speeches. And once again, I had the opportunity to speak to the staff and students about our commitment to them and their commitment to each other and Africa. From there, we were treated to a local feast and cake. It was celebration the whole day—it was also my birthday.

The real magic came at the end of the day, when Kathee and I, were able to put T4S to work with funds raised by friends from Indianapolis. We purchased 12.8 million Shillings ($8,000) in books for HeReigns and committed financially to building a library to hold and secure our investment to the children’s dream.

In addition, with the financial support of those that are traveling with H4KI, we are adding to what T4S did last summer, which was the purchase of textbooks for all True Vine Preschool and textbooks for P-1 through P-4 at the Primary Schools. T4S is buying the remainder of the textbook for the primary levels: P-5 through P-7.

T4S has also collected support to connect the boarding houses to the showers and bathrooms with sand and gravel paths. This will allow the children to have some self-respect and pride in their home. We will also be adding concrete slabs and drainage around the two watering pumps. Now the area is mud and standing water.

The next day, we met with Mr. Aroda, District Inspector of Education. We spent three hours asking questions about the successes and failures in education in the Tororo District. Bottom line once again is we are stealing are children’s dreams.

The HOPE is for more textbooks (now 1 book for every 7 students but wish for 1 book for every 3 students); more teachers and classrooms (now 1 teacher for every 87 students but wish for 1 student for every 40 students); food (as reported in a local newspaper, the number one reason for dropout was lack of food); and higher teacher pay and staff housing on site (the average pay for primary teachers is $1500 a year).

What H4KI and T4S have been doing since 2004 in the Tororo area is showing tangible results. Natalie Eggum’s data also stated that 90% of the children polled felt that the rest of their life would be good. And the top reason for this was once again education.

What we do in Uganda is not about charity; it is about justice and equality. We must remember that these children look forward to competing in the same global market as Americans, Europeans, and Asians.

Our work here opens its doors to all that feel pulled to aid in bridging that gap between emergency and response.

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