As a general rule, I’m not a big fan of institutional schooling. Our family homeschooled for 13 years, and the pandemic years certainly taught us a few things about the state of education.
In Uganda, and especially in terribly poor, remote areas like Rwakobo Village, schools are critical. Especially schools like Wells of Hope that operates on a pay-if-you-can tuition system, with no mandatory uniforms, no testing fees, no “bring a broom, a case of toilet paper, and paper or you can’t come” rules.
For 40 years, this village’s children either didn’t go to school at all, or had to WALK nearly 10 miles each way to go. (It takes a half hour in the car to reach the closest town!) If they were lucky and had relatives in a town with a school, they could attend more easily, but for most, school was not even a remote possibility.
I absolutely believe that reading, writing, math, science, and geography (they learn American geography in primary school – for some reason no one knows – and don’t learn Uganda’s geography until secondary) are important. It’s a key to MORE in their lives.
But even more than that, for these village children, it’s a safety net.
- They get food at school. For many, it’s the only food they get in a day.
- They have advocates in their teachers and the administration, who are able to spot abuse and illness.
- Gideon, Gilbert, and the other staff regularly visit the homes — even those that are 2-3 miles’ walk from the school — to check on families, to see why children have missed days, to try to help the families prioritize education.
- For the girls, being in school has at least stalled childhood marriage practices. (We lost a handful of girls during the lockdown closure to this practice, and it’s heartbreaking.)
I know that many people, especially those familiar with the overall abysmal academic performance of schools in countries like Uganda struggle with the idea of helping them. For our newest board member Mikkel, the social and welfare aspects of supporting schools was new — and a game changer.
Because of the overwhelming demand when schools started back up after the 2-year break at the end of January, Wells of Hope took out a loan to build a second “real” building. (The photo above is the current P2, very overcrowded classroom!) We have been fundraising on DonorSee to get blackboards and furniture. The first classroom’s furniture project is over halfway funded — we just need $175 to complete it.
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