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Kyabirwa Primary School Volunteer Project -

a grass roots Govt. Registered Community Based Organisation

                                           Volunteer Blog
Linda, one of the Volunteer Uganda School Project's volunteers at Kyabirwa Primary School near Jinja. 

We really enjoyed having Linda and Andy with us and they tell you how they feel about us in their Blog.

Linda's Blog

About the Owino Family, our hosts and now our friends.   (Moses Owino is the Project Manager)

Question: How easy is it to share your home and your life with a succession of complete strangers from far overseas, for anything between a few days and a few months? We’ll never be able to tell because they have shared theirs with such kindness, such friendliness and such unquestioning politeness that they’ve never given anything away about how hard (or how annoying) it might be. It’s hugely impressive, because we’re guessing we volunteers are not always easy to live with, but we have been looked after so well, fed so much, and welcomed so generously that we haven’t had to worry about anything. We know Moses actually works long and hard to be the ever-gracious and effortless host, and we have really appreciated what he’s done, enabling us to come here, supporting us while we’ve been here, and helping us with anything we’ve asked to do. In this respect he has been ably supported by his whole family, from the very young to really quite old. Florence, Moses’s wife, has always been friendly and helpful, regardless of the amount of work she has faced, and she has cooked up some wondrous feasts for us. But she is not just a chef: we should appreciate, too, all the behind-the-scenes work she has done for us. Flowers, too, for Agnes, who deputized for Florence many times, and who gave Andy the most talked-about hairstyle in the District.

Then there are the teachers.

They’ve been 100% supportive of our efforts in the classroom, and we thank them deeply for letting us invade their territory and (in at least one of our cases) attempt some sort of amateur teaching. With the help and guidance of Robinah (the head) and Moses (the Volunteer Coordinator) we’ve enjoyed a smooth and always interesting programme of activities to do and lessons to teach (we’ve both taught three or four lessons a day, so we’ve always been busy), and we’ve developed some great relationships with our class teachers, who we’re going to miss a lot. A term really flies by, especially when you have to fit so much into it, but although we’re gone the teachers will stay here, and will continue to do a remarkable job in really quite difficult surroundings. But despite the challenges the school maintains a genuinely impressive and refreshing atmosphere and ethos, and the teachers are always friendly with each other and always welcoming to us interferers. We wish them the very best.

Then there are the children.

All 1300 of them, from the smallest P1 sprog to the biggest P7 'yob'. They’ve been a blast from the first day we arrived. Never rude or sarcastic, although sometimes a little bit cheeky, they have been great ambassadors for the school, and have made our time both rewarding and enjoyable. As for the classes we taught, well, P3 (180 children) are lots of fun, always enthusiastic and always willing to take part in lessons. We think they’ll probably miss Pop more than they’ll miss Teacher Linda, but that’s okay with us.

In the final analysis, we’ve discovered that often it isn’t actually what you do, or how you spend money, or in what ways you intervene in the story of a community, which brings the greatest impact. In fact, the only difference that you can ever truly make, and often it’s the one you can never actually measure, happens just by you being there. Even if you don’t feel you’ve helped, you probably have. For people in remote places, often forgotten by central government, often neglected by local government, and often feeling like no-one in the world actually knows or cares they exist, it is -we’re sure of it- an uplifting thing to have someone fly halfway round the world just to spend some time with them; to talk to them; to be made a figure of relentless fun by them; whatever. That simple act of recognition -done by one human to another- is so incredibly powerful and important in places where recognition has rarely, if ever existed, that no volunteer should ever feel that their work or their time has been fruitless. The kid you played with, the old lady you smiled at, the soda you bought at the grocers - they all made a difference, tiny and beyond measurement as it may have been in your eyes. But help isn’t always about building classrooms or delivering sacks of maize or handing out exercise books: it can be psychological, too, and it would be a mistake to underestimate the importance this can have on an individual, or sometimes even a whole group of people.
And then, of course, you can look at it from the other way round. Countless people have touched our lives, have changed us for the better, and have burned into our minds memories of amazing things. And wouldn’t that have been worthwhile on its own?
Linda and Andy

Jamie Curcio's Blog

                    Jamie Curcio volunteer with Volunteer Uganda School at Kyabirwa Primary School. Jamie did great painting for us.

Jamie and his friend did a marvellous job for us by painting the outside of the school when they volunteered at Kyabirwa School. Please come back.............. it needs doing again! You were great guys to have with us. We miss your friendship, humour and energy. You became part of our family even in the relatively short time you were with us.
Read on to see what Jamie says.....

As many of you know, we dedicated three weeks of our lives to volunteering to at a rural primary school in Uganda. As many of you also know, it didn’t take long for us to fall in love with the children that attend this school. Kyabirwa Primary School was founded in the late 1940's. At the time of its foundation until just seven years ago all classes were held outside in a setting not much different than an Alabama farm. Children were often lectured under trees to keep out of the sun and avoid the afternoon thunderstorms. Ideal conditions on a cool summer day but not so ideal when considering a typical day in Uganda. A thunderstorm there simulates what many of us would call a monsoon. Seven years ago Kyabirwa finally received its first structures to house the children for classes. The roughly tweleve hundrend (aged 5 to 20) students now enjoy classes in 10 average sized classrooms. On a good day, there is one teacher for every other classroom. To them, this is great. To them they now have the privilege of learning in a true school and in a building. Most of the classrooms consist of lots of wooden desks which seat four to five students per desk. The writing space is small, very small and it's a shame because they have a lot of it to do! There are not nearly a sufficient amount of textbooks for each child therefore all text is hand written in tiny journals. Page after page of anatomy, physics and algebra, all hand written in their own text book. The chalk boards have received no maintenance in the last seven years and they lack what you would call a smooth surface. I would now call them white boards due to the left over residue of powder on them. I could hardly read or tell if there was something written most of the time.

The school is making progress though. Just next week they will receive their first power ever. Oh what a luxury it is to have electricity. They are excited for it and in our minds this opened many new doors of modern learning. Between Ryan and I we bought the school a new paint job and its first computer…ever! Yes, their first computer ever, and I would say they were more excited about that than the electricity they were getting to make it operate. As you should know Ryan and I aren’t necessarily in a position to be just buying computers for people either. I mean we’re jobless and haven’t had an income for over four months now. Most of the time we turn down a 2 dollar taxi ride and walk a mile to save the funds. However, we realized something pretty quickly while working at Kyabirwa. We realized that the damage this gift had on our pocket will far less effect us as compared to how it will benefit them. I can sit here and tell you what it was like working at Kyabirwa and being in Uganda, but the full picture is never really painted until you get to experience it yourself. After doing this and being there, I want to do nothing more than help these children receive a better education. Before it was something that I “would like” to do someday so I can help the world and be a better person. It was an after thought at one time.

Many kids of Kyabirwa have dreams! They have big dreams. I spoke to several of them who wanted to be engineers, pilots, or artists. Its exciting to see children in a culture like this be excited about their future. What is not exciting though is when their teachers tell you that these dreams aren’t possible for them, not even close to possible. They say that most of them won’t be able to afford even secondary school let alone university. Worse yet, most of them will likely be caught up working for their Mother because Dad passed away not long ago due to a local disease. One thing I noticed with these children was that most of them were willing to work hard and that most of them tried to look at life in a positive way. Also, of all the country’s we have now been to I have never seen kids have so much fun like these kids!! They will MAKE fun out of nothing. They are always laughing, giggling or playing in any way possible. It was great to see such vibrant life but sad to think that the excitement of their life quickly goes away because they can’t follow their dreams. Kyabirwa and its children need help.
Jamie Curcio