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Saturday, 20 November 2010

Future plans for St. Zoe's

St Zoe's school campus at Kagoma is the location of our biggest projects and is about 4 hours to the west of Kampala. This year has been one of great change as we formed the Ugandan NGO called Kagoma Educational Development Organisation which is a legally constituted charity with Trustees who are professional friends of the work together with parents and villagers.
During 2010 a number of new initiatives in both UK and Germany have resulted in the Ugandan team to be able to start a really important set of new works.

Preparing a new garden near the primary school

Primary School refurbishment was started with very generous UK donation about 18 months ago and this let us make a start. But in the middle of the year the German parishes who also support this work have committed to raise the money to complete this work over the next 2 years. This will improve class rooms, roads and paths and school access and gardens.

Brick making machine which will help to create good paths and roads on site

Water supply at St Zoe's was developed a few years ago thanks to the Bishop family donations and fund raising. But as the school and site numbers grew and the changes in weather hit Uganda there was a real shortage of water last year. With a school pick up truck we were able to travel some distance and purchase water but this is a poor solution. We have just let a contract to enhance all the site water harvesting opportunities by fitting guttering and storage to all building and this should be complete by January 2011.

The secondary school with 72 pupils now has one 3000 square metre 4 room building. We have now raised enough money to start a second similar building and the work will start in December this year. This will allow us to cover 6 years classes.

The first secondary school building with the Director and teaching staff 

Sport is really important for children and thanks to Matt Houghton and his Engage for Africa project we have been able to fund the local farmers and parents to spent time creating proper sports fields for football, basketball, and athletics and these are being built now. Bit also we have been able to fund a very wide range of sport equipment.
"Girls don't ride bicycles" is the cultural norm".  Our local team said "why?"

So they have purchased 3 girls bicycles and the excitement and joy for the girls was amazing. "Now we can ride too."

Our two 12 month volunteers, Rebecca and Naomi taught the girls to ride.

The Kagoma Vocational Skills Institute is the  really big venture which will take a number of years but which could really help to transform the lives of the local people. The Institute which is on the 80 acre site will be run separately from the schools and will over time provide a wide range of skills needed by the children and adults to help them get or create real jobs. We start this building work in December also and the first skill areas will be tailoring, building and wood work, tropical agriculture, book keeping and domestic skills.
We plan to engage with the local communities to make sure that the skills chosen are those most needed for the future.
More about this project on later postings.

But is is nice to hear what Happy Kukunda has to say about this;

And maybe Happy could be a doctor one day. We are already sponsoring a medical student at University in Gulu and she is in her second year.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Trustee message to Rebecca


Thank you for the lovely letter and Pics. You gave a superb account of what is going on at St Zoes and of the tremendous progress that has been made since I was there in 2006. Attached are pics taken during the visit of my grandchildren, James and Melissa enjoying football and netball at the School. I found you blog quite inspirational. Thank you.
Bob Blundell

I have some pictures of my grand children playing at St Zoe's in 2006

Volunteering at St Zoe's

Rebecca Nixon and Naomi Perryman volunteered through Project Trust to spend a year at St Zoe's schools which are about 3 from Kampala Uganda. Here is Rebecca's report on the first two months.

Firstly let me talk about the teaching; the secondary school children are all very welcoming and friendly and keen to learn new things. Their English is of high standards and although at first my farmer accent posed several problems, I can now have a proper conversation with all of them talking at a normal speed. I was surprised at the high level at which they are studying, with topics I studied at A Level being covered in S3- Year 9 equivalent! In fact I have found that there is a high standard in all subjects covered throughout the curriculum. In general the students find Mathematics very challenging, so I am trying my best to improve their understanding through attending prep every night, where I am able to work with students on a more individual basis. I have literally gone to the extent of teaching Algebra in my sleep, much to Naomi’s horror! I have also taught Primary 7 several times, who finished their Primary Leaving Examinations last week. They were a very intelligent and eager class so I hope to see lots of them in S1 next year; they have also encouraged me to become more involved in the Primary section in the new academic year.

Extra curricular activities in the School are very popular with children across both Primary and Secondary taking part. Recently new sports equipment has been purchased, including javelin, discus, shot put, badminton sets, footballs and netballs. After school the children and teachers alike enjoy using the equipment encouraging interaction and of course physical exercise. It was lovely to see the Director in his suit coaching the boys in discus and shot put, using his athletic skills acquired from his primary days, to beat the boys throws. Three girls’ bikes have also been purchased and Naomi and I have spent time after school teaching the girls to ride bikes; of which I found slightly easier than Naomi- my 5ft11 height proving and advantage in supporting some of the slightly larger girls. It is really good to see the girls determined to learn something that every single boy in the school can do; one girl called Elizabeth, who is in Senior 3, initially thought learning to ride a bike would be easy and voiced this opinion quite loudly-she had a shock. However now, after a cut knee and endless practice, she can happily ride the bike and I have also seen her instructing the other girls-which is great.

The children also play netball and football after school frequently and I have played netball regularly, as it’s a good chance to spend time with the girls out of class and it also helps me from getting fatter on the Ugandan carb diet! On the 29th of October the only local government school called Kitenga, came to visit St Zoe for a football and netball match. The matches were held in the afternoon; it was amazing how many children appeared on bicycles and boda’s. The generator was brought out towards the netball pitch and music was blasted out whilst the matches were being played, much to the delight of the hundreds of dancing primary school children. The netball match started badly with the score at the end of the first half being 4-1, in the second half we played much better and the end score was 4-3 to Kitenga, so I was happy that the St Zoe girls had managed to pull back a couple of goals. The football match was much longer than the netball and we won 1-0, so that was good. The whole atmosphere of the afternoon was really friendly, with everyone enjoying themselves, spectating together and having a good old chat.

On the 17th of October there was visitation day, which is when the children get a visit from their parents or other family members and get their mid-term results. This was a really lovely day; the parents arrived bringing food and small gifts for their children and then sat in the shade and enjoyed each others company. Naomi and I were shocked to see so many people sat around the school on the grass, eating lunch. By mid-term the boarding students are starting to feel a bit home sick, so seeing their parents on visitation day perks them up again for the remaining half term. Depending on their mid-term results and what their parents have to say about them, it also encourages them to work harder for their end of term exams.

Other things that Naomi and I have taken part in since our arrival includes teaching the Sunday School Children the ‘Okey Kokey’, which was great fun. The teachers are not involved with Sunday School and it is solely run by some of the Secondary School students, -this kind of interaction between the Primary and Secondary section is encouraging to see and also develops level of responsibility and leadership skills within older students. These kinds of skills are very prominent within the secondary students, with different prefects in charge of a variety of areas such as Entertainment, Sports and Health and Sanitation. Each prefect has specific roles, which they take very seriously and carry them out dutifully. The entertainment minister is in charge of organization of events such as Talent shows, dances and has control of the DSTV remote. The DSTV not only provides the children with entertainment during the weekends, but is also used during weekday evenings to enable the children to watch the news. On the 30th of October Naomi and I attended our first Talent Show, which was highly entertaining. The Secondary and Primary school children took part in mimes, traditional dancing and comedy acts. Miming was a new experience for us both and is definitely a Ugandan thing. Our favorite act had to be the mime from Mutyaba  George William and Bonja Wasswa Peter; George William making his entrance to the mime riding a bicycle, wearing a flowery orange and white dress with silk ribbon, some particularly dazzling girls sunglasses and girls knee high lacy white socks as gloves up to is elbows! We were all in stitches. After the Talent show there was a dance, where students and teachers alike had a real good time.

This week is the last week before exams, so the students are studying hard in preparation. The following week is the Sports Gala where the new sports equipment will be put into good use and Naomi and I are organizing an end of term leaving dance to celebrate the end of exams.
St Zoe is a welcoming and well-organised school with a dedicated director who will continue to encourage development within the School. Naomi and I are thoroughly enjoying our time here and spend most of our time at school with the students. We are trying to be as helpful and productive as we can to the school during our time here and will try to keep you as updated as possible with school life.

Best Wishes from St Zoe, UGANDA 

Sunday, 7 November 2010

How the Batooro chose a partner

Good Shepherd School for Special Needs Children at Fort Portal is where the Batooro Tribe live.
 They are said to have broken off from the great kingdom of Bunyoro during the time of Omukama Kabalega. Kamurasi his brother rebelled and ran away forming a separate kingdom currently occupying mostly Kabarole and Kyenjojo district.
Traditionally before colonialism families used to choose marriage partners for their children. The girls had no say in deciding who to get married to. Parents through friends would identify a man who was looking for a woman to marry and request the parents of the girl to accept their proposal.
Both sides would sit to negotiate the dowry (which was usually cows) and all this would happen without the knowledge of the girl and her mother. After the bridegroom's side completed the payment of dowry then a date would be set when the girl would be taken.
A traditional suit (omutooro) would be prepared for the girl behind her back. Her paternal aunt and her mother would then be informed to prepare the girl. This was done through teaching the girl on how to manage her marriage. She was told things like 'you are ripe for marriage, a man has been identified to marry you and he has already paid dowry'. She was also told she could not refuse to get married to a man whom your clan has appreciated for you. She was also urged to be obedient and to implore to be clean both her personal hygiene and her home.
The bride to be was also taught to respect her in-laws as if they were here own parents. Also she was to be generous and share with her neighbors especially if she harvested before them. She was to give them part of her harvest. Most families were monogamous. It was prestigious for a man to have many wives and children. In some cases the young girl would get married as the second, third even fourth wife in the family. However the rest of the wives were expected to respect the first wife. In polygamous marriages all the wives and children and their husband would live, eat; dig, fetch firewood together, and the wives would cook in turns.
Upon the arrival of the first missionaries the Gospel was spread allover Uganda. Many were converted to Christianity and a large number of the Batooro are Catholics as well as Anglican. Islam is also a prominent religion. It is rare for people to get married in this traditional way. Currently when a young lady meets a lad and accepts his marriage proposal, she will tell her parents about him and with their approval arranges for an introduction ceremony. This is called okweranga where the bridegroom and his family officially visit the bride's home to meet the parents. These days even a certificate is given by the kingdom and the two have a valid African marriage. Although in many cases they later have a church or Islam ceremony.

The bride on the right-hand side and a friend who escorted her for the give away ceremony

The groom, second on the right hand side and his companions drinking milk from ebyanzi (jars) presented to them by the bride's family.

The bride is escorted by her friends before the guests from the groom's home.

 Bride and friends before guests so that the groom can publicly choose his bride.

The groom chooses his bride and gives her a special necklace as a token of his love and identification.

The groom asks the girls parents for permission to marry her and after he is accepted the girl gives her groom a flower.
Then the bride and groom signing a certificate from the kingdom.

Sent from my iPad but written by Doris Kahuura