In Uganda, the word “problem” is seldom used. However, the word “challenge” is in regular use. If someone is too poor to buy food they are described as “facing challenges with food”
I asked the headteacher of the school where we are working “what is the biggest challenge to education?” Her reply was lack of text books and food for the children. The text books we can do something about because some of you gave me money to bring out for school supplies and I have, today, put it onto the school textbook fund. It will buy 60 text books which will last for many years as the children regard books as precious. They will never have their own book – they will share them, along with everything else in the school.
With between 100 and 200 children in each class, it is likely that each book can be read by five or six children simultaneously, so crammed in they are.
Food, however, is a bigger problem. The money I have been given would not be enough to feed the 900 children even with one meal for one day. Today we had our last day at school with our current team of volunteers. We were given lunch by the school (which we paid for) and sat down to generous helpings of maize porridge, sweet potatoes, beans and greens. We ate in the school yard whilst the kids looked on and ate ………nothing at all.
This was hard to take. The reason why they were not fed was that not one parent had given their child any dinner money. Free School Meals are completely unheard of in Uganda. We live in hopes that they will all get fed when they get home tonight.
Tomorrow we head off into the Murchison Falls National Park with two days of R&R with the team before returning them to the airport.
To sign off with, here are some jolly faces from the school yard today (and behind them are the window frames we have been painting)