It’s over two months now since the schools in Uganda opened after the long two-year lockdown. At first Good Luck Junior School struggled to get the children to return as their parents had got used to having them working in the fields and doing other jobs such as breaking stone to sell to builders to earn a few much needed coins. But with your help to pay the wages, Ibra the head teacher, was able to employ five teachers and together they searched out the parents at home or busy digging and persuaded them to send their children back to school. Numbers have been gradually rising. As you can imagine the children were so happy to be back at school learning and meeting up with their friends again. Ibra said they were so excited with their new classrooms and being able to sit at proper desks. I’m picturing this with a smile on my face!😊
On our behalf Innocent has been to the school regularly and today sent a message. So instead of rewriting them I’m just going to copy and paste them, for you to get a true and direct picture of the situation. I do add a little good news at the end!
Innocent- ‘Today I got to the teachers evaluation meeting at GLJS and one of the challenges ibra talked about was fees payment.
As per today’s attendance ,there are 94 children. Out of the whole number of children at GLJS , only 17 have paid to zero balance , some few children have also made a small deposit. From what is expected from parents as fees only 33.3% has been paid .the challenge here is that when ibra sends the children home for fees , the parents just keep the children home and some take them to the garden to prepare for the rainy season soon coming. In the meeting they also talked of one parent who used to respond very well on fees and has three children at GLJS, this father died of Covid 19 but the widow keeps pleading she pays half so the children can get education but she has also failed to pay a coin of the half .
‘The other challenge they talked was water , teachers were telling Ibra that the pupils especially the lower classes keep asking ; ” teacher water ,water ” but there is no water left in the jerrican, then later on the same issue the cook asked ibra to try get her a water container where they can keep the water .
‘Finally they said thank you to you on behalf of the teachers for the help esp their salary. Ibra then gave me a chance to say a word to the meeting where I just said hello, thanked them for their work and encouraged them to work harder despite the challenges. I also passed your greetings to them.’
He continues – ‘The situation in Uganda is very bad, people here are very broke , Covid disorganized everything . Other than sending the fees defaulters home , he is planning to meet the parents individually in their homes to try and advise them to prioritize for the education of their children even in this crisis just after Covid 19 Lock down.
‘There are no state schools around until you get to the main road to kamuli from GLJS but even in state schools they ask for some fees and the fees at GLJS is not high , 30,000.’
(30,000 is only £6 a term but if you don’t have a job or excess grain to sell, getting even that is impossible for many!)
‘In Uganda we are in a state of learning to live with the situation, the situation that Covid 19 brought. I will give you an example, I invested in poultry with a target that a 3 months I would sell off the birds and get my profits . The birds have now made three months but no market . The more you keep them the more you spend on feeds , and this reduces what I would take as profit . It’s now even being hard for me feed the birds.
Another example is as I type , I am sited in my bar alone with the music playing lights on drinks available but no customers, yet I have to meet my costs . Along all these responsibilities like Norman and Geraldine getting sick come as well . Even as it’s a time of learning to live with the situation, at times there are no shillings to take the learning on .so it is ibra with the parents clearing fees .’
That’s all from Innocent.
I know Ibra and the teachers will be doing their very best to give the village children an education, far superior to that of the government schools, but as you see the parents are struggling to raise the fees, as although 30,000 is only £6 a term, if you don’t have a job or excess grain to sell, getting even that is impossible for many! Uganda has had a very long dry season and the rains are late again so any surplus grain will be being used to feed their families. Hopefully the next harvest will be a good one and things could be better. Life in Uganda 🇺🇬 just as many places around the world is so tough and very unpredictable. I really don’t know how they manage!
Thank you once again for donating to pay the salaries for the first six months. Hopefully things will get better as life improves for the parents.
Obviously we cannot continue to pay the teachers salaries so only time will tell if they can balance their books. It’s never an easy job providing education to the outlying villages but now it seems especially difficult. I do admire the hard work and dedication of Ibra and his teachers.
The good news –
Earlier in February the sow at
GLJS gave birth to five piglets! These are the first offspring of the two piglets we bought for the school to start a pig project to help with running the school.
Also Innocent delivered a table and four chairs to the school that Nico, the young deaf man we sponsored through a basic carpentry apprenticeship, made. These are to be used by the teachers in the ‘staff room’, under the mango tree!
Thank you once again for your interest and support.
The children were sent home to bring their parent’s, usually the mothers, to the meeting. Few know the time, (except by the sun!), so this is necessary. Many would have been busy doing the daily chores of digging, collecting water, washing clothes or preparing the posho (ground maize) and beans for the evening meal. They were informed about the meeting a week ago but only by their children’s spoken word, as letters from the school are unheard of in village schools as few can read, and paper is a rare resource. When if they did have paper the teachers would have to write every message by hand!
Some of the children are very young but they all know their way home, even walking quite a distance! It used to scare me when 4-5 year olds just arrived at school unaccompanied but that’s how it is in Uganda and I expect many other countries.
You hear Ibrahim shouting at them to go home and fetch their mothers. Teachers in Uganda do tend to shout a lot and demand rather than ask. Again just the way it is! You’ll notice also the speak in a mixture of English and Basoga their local language. This is because English has to become the first language once the children have been at school beyond the nursery class, as all teaching is done in English, exams are in English and if they had books they would be in English.
I’m the video Innocent points out the staff room under the mango tree and scans round to show us the classrooms and latrine block that you helped to build during the two years of Covid!
My voice message to the parents and other members of the community apparently went down well! Innocent saying ‘it was just wonderful Madam’ and that the parents kept cheering and shouting Asante sana as it was played to them!! Ibrahim translated my words, and I had sent a written copy just in case it was needed as sometimes they don’t understand my form of English though I try to be careful!
I love the sound of the excited voices of the parents after the meeting.
Innocent passed on the thanks that the parents sent to me and I pass this most definitely on to you as without your donations there would be no school!
The man in the yellow cap is the village leader and Innocent tells me:
The chairperson of the village ,who you met last time told the parents how kind you are , he told them about the shirt you gave him the last time you came to deliver mosquito nets.
This was one of my husbands shirts! I can remember how happy he and other men were with their gifts!
Children continued their lessons after the meeting and while Innocent was still there he took this video of them having a PE lesson! Teaching English comes into every lesson and here the teacher is getting them to repeat what she says while jumping! We were still very much on their minds as I can just about make out that they are saying ‘thank you Madam Gerry’ and that ‘we love you we love you we love you Madam!’ Please take it that this message is for you all, I’m just the one they know!
That’s all the news for now from Good Luck Junior School in Uganda 🇺🇬. Thank you once again for making all this possible! X
How wonderful to hear the voices of lots of happy children in the video Innocent has sent!
Today was Parents Day in every school in Uganda including Good Luck Junior School and how incredible it is that these village children had a school to go to at all, and teachers ready to teach them! I know I keep thanking you for your amazing kindness and generosity, but I can’t emphasise enough what a difference you have made since my last visit to Uganda when I discovered the terrible state of this schools buildings. Then, shortly after my return home, all schools and many businesses were closed for two years with the pandemic. First of all you bought two pigs, firstly a sow and then later a boar, to create a project to help with the school’s expensive. The sow is just about to give birth! Then you provided funds to build classrooms with new desks and blackboards, as well as a block of latrines, and most recently financial help so that the teachers could be paid. Without this support we wouldn’t be viewing this lovely, happy, heart-warming
scene! I’m just smiling 😊 and feeling so grateful?
Enjoy the video. Hope to be back very soon with more news about how the parents meeting went today. X
News from Innocent after the first week back at school for the children at Good Luck Junior School. Three teachers have returned and 42 children which is very pleasing as he told me that many schools have not opened at all as the teachers didn’t return, so comparatively speaking GLJS is really doing well so far. It’s so good, that because of your donations the teachers will get paid at the end of this month and for another five, giving the school a chance to attract another two teachers and therefore more children.
I has been very impressed with Ibrahim, the head teacher, when I spent time there at the beginning on 2020. Innocent also told me, ‘One of the biggest challenges the school is having is water, the nearest water source (borehole) is about 1.5 kms from the school and this serves the villages around as well. Coz of the few staff Ibra, who is the school director, headteacher and classroom teacher, puts all those honors aside, gets on bicycle and cycles to borehole to fetch some few jerricans of water before the children arrive in the morning.
There is also one cook in the kitchen outside, am sure Ibra also goes to help the lady too.’
He is certainly very dedicated!
Let’s hope more parents find they are able to send their children back over the next few weeks and two more teachers will decide that GLJS is for them too. Innocent said the wonderful improvements to the classrooms and latrines have made the school more attractive which helps a great deal. He also said, ‘Hello mum G, the children at GLJS now don’t go back home dusty like it used to be coz the class rooms have cemented floor’. They also won’t cough so much either and neither will I when I next go to Uganda!
So friends, so far so good for Good Luck Junior School, and much of it is down to you again. Thanks again for all the support you give to the many people I talk about in Uganda.
Love and hugs 🤗