Tuesday, November 9, 2010

An Update From Uganda

The following was written by Melissa Nettleton, our second intern through the Global Volunteer Engagement Program. She has been in Uganda since August and will be returning at the end of November.

Dear friends,

My time here in Uganda has gone by so quickly. I have been so blessed to be able to come to Soroti and learn about the culture of Uganda and about the different tribes here. I have made very good friends gone on some interesting adventures and am so grateful for everything I have

While in Uganda I am spending the majority of my time at Amachet still tending to the babies. There have been many different babies coming and going. We have two babies that were abandoned by their mothers within a week of each other. One was born in the bush and left for dead. Luckily a neighbouring woman heard the child’s cries and came to rescue him. He had scrapes on his body from the twigs he was laying on and was almost starving when he was brought to Amachet. He was checked over, bathed and fed and I am happy to report is doing quite well now.
The second boy that was abandoned by his mother was left in a pig latrine a neighbour also heard the cries of the baby so was rescued from the pit. One of the only reasons he survived is because the placenta was still rapped around him and kept him safe until help came. In both cases there was a wide spread search for the mothers that abandoned their new born babies. Local women in the community partnered together and sought out the mothers. There were radio adds as well asking if anyone knew of a women who was recently pregnant but didn’t have a baby. In both cases the mother was found and sent to jail for attempted murder. Both the babies are healthy and doing well. The families of the babies are deciding now where it is best for the
baby to live. Usually the child will go home with an aunt or a grandmother.

I also was able to see one of the toddlers that was at Amachet who had left a month or so ago with her grandmother come back for a check up. She was one of the many toddlers I had played and cared for when I first arrived. It is always very sad to see a child go home but it is
touching to see the child come back with their family. Lucy the toddler was so happy and had grown and her grandmother was so proud to be caring for her granddaughter. This is a great example of the amazing success stories that Amachet facilitates every day.

I am also happy to report that I feel much more at home in Amachet. I have made friends with a lot of the Ateso girls that work there. I have even learnt from Susan one of the girls that has been working there for a few years, how to make matokee which is a local banana dish and have plans to learn how to make abo which is peanut sauce and greens. (So when I get back and you want to eat something from Uganda just ask and I would love to cook for you!)

Another ministry that the YWAM base in Soroti provides is a nursery and primary school both called Harmony. I was able to help in Harmony nursery with Teacher Lawrence and his ‘top class’ students of 4-6 years old. Learning in Uganda is quite different than in Canada. For one thing resources such as pens, papers, markers, crayons, poster paper, learning tools, etc are not as widely available. All of the children, on top of their school fees, are required to provide two
pencils, four activity books and two rolls of toilet paper. As well, all the children are expected to wear a uniform that their family must provide. Most of the learning in class happens through songs and viewing lessons on the board. Another difference is the size of the
class. In top class there are 22 students and only one teacher. To demand the attention of 22 young children and to also get them to learn is no easy task. For me it was a challenge especially since I did not know all of the children’s names. I found myself saying things like, “Hey you, with the brown hair stop pinching your neighbour and sit down!” which unfortunately usually didn’t work. Teacher Lawrence however, had an amazing presents with the children. He would stand in front of the class and like magic the children would all fall quite! It takes a very talented person to be a teacher that’s for sure!

While on the base Steven Orem the base leader had mentioned that there was a community about an hour away into the village that was in desperate need of a new school house and asked me and a few others from Tonga to go visit a community in Serere. While we were there we saw the horrible conditions that learning was meant to take place in. There were five mud huts that were barely staying up. Most of the straw that had once formed a top of the hut now created an
unintentional sun roof into the class rooms. The student’s crammed into very small huts with no workbooks, text books or pencils. One of the oldest classes that were preparing for exams were forced to take their classes under a tree because their hut had collapsed completely due to the harsh storms created during the rainy season. Our group handed out some pencils, papers, workbooks, candy and a soccer ball. We created a partnership with the school and the teachers to support them and assist in any way possible. The dream is to come back with a
bunch of Canadians in May through Global Youth Network and construct a school house if that is what the school feels it needs the most. They will also use local materials so that the community is involved and takes pride and ownership in the newly constructed school house.

These are just some of the things I have been able to experience but there have been so much more! I have been so blessed to be able to come and experience life here in Uganda and it is all thanks to the support from my friends like you. Thank you so much for contributing!

Take care,
Melissa Nettleton

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