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Archive for August, 2009

Final Days

Monday, August 31st, 2009
 Our last few weeks in Uganda were productive and fun, involving a relaxing trip to see our friend Jules in Western Uganda, one last trip to Gulu and some work on Lilly Kindergarten and Primary School in Kampala.

This year, we provided Lilly with children’s desks as well as desks for the teachers. In addition during the rainy season water floods into the lower classrooms, so hopefully a new trench will do the trick.

 
new children’s desk

new children’s desk

trench under construction to prevent flooding in lower classroom block.
trench under construction to prevent flooding in lower classroom block.
 
We had a great time visiting with Jules who lived in an oasis on the edge of Kibale National Park with her three dog’s sparkles, slim shady and foxy lady. Jules lives close to the second school we donated solar lights to this year. It is about a 30 minute drive down a hilly little two lane track through lusciously green homesteads and laughing children (clay calls them chasers as most of them like to chase the car). The children are on a break from school right now, but we found the entire P7 class taking practice exams for the national exams they take in November. The 24 lights we donated will be installed a few days before the children return to school in mid September, they will provide light to the school dormitories and a classroom.
 
trying to get a nice picture of Jules with her dogs, this is taken just before madam sparkles knocks me over.
trying to get a nice picture of Jules with her dogs, this is taken just before madam sparkles knocks me over.
Discovery School where the solar lights will be installed.
Discovery School where the solar lights will be installed.
 
We made one more trip to Gulu to donate sporting equipment and meet with our project partners to ensure everything is on track and talk about future directions. Getting pretty used to the drive now, but we had one incident that gave us all a scare. About half way to Gulu a 1.5 years old girl popped up on one side of the highway and started crossing, Dusman leaned on the horn and started to stop, she kept crossing the highway but a little faster. We were able to stop on time but Phil decided to have a chat with the little one and find her caregiver before we continued. She had crossed to get to her brothers (age 2.5 and 4), who were collecting water in a puddle on the other side of the Highway. Their mom was in the garden so Phil helped them collect water and eventually neighbors and an older boy came to fetch them.  What a different reality from kids in Canada.
 
Phil helping the kids along the highway collect water.
Phil helping the kids along the highway collect water.
Donating sporting equipment to Lela Obaro Primary School
Donating sporting equipment to Lela Obaro Primary School
Donating sporting equipment to Palenga Primary School
Donating sporting equipment to Palenga Primary School

 

This summer was a great success for The Ssubi Foundation and all our partners in both Canada and Uganda. Thank you to everyone who helped us out this year.

 

More than a structure

Saturday, August 8th, 2009

We stayed in Gulu for a few days after the handover ceremony to relax, enjoy Ssubi’s accomplishments and meet under the shade of a beautiful 100 year old tree with the project engineers, school administration and sponsor children.  The Ssubi team had some time to reflect on this year’s work plan and a few themes jumped out; this year was invaluable as a learning experience for the foundation on all levels and we have a vision for improving and strengthening our impact, and we fully appreciate the importance of building solid relationships and partnerships.  The structures we left behind are more than bricks and morter, when we think of the effort from The Ssubi Foundation, Lela Obaro school, Gulu District Education Office, funding partners (Heritage Oil, Rick Theriault Memorial Fund, Crowfoot Village Honda, Big Rock Brewery and BacksideBetty.com), project engineers and workers, Parent Teachers Association and the Lela Obaro community we realize we have built a foundation of partners to inspire success.
The buildings are symbolic of a process, still ongoing, to further the educational opportunities of children in the community of Lelo Obaro.
They have a goal of becoming a model school in the District by achieving 5 first grades on the Grade 7 national exams.

Inside new library

Inside new library

Inside new library

Kids outside the library

Kids outside the library

Teachers quarters, with separate cook units, toilets and shower block.

Teachers quarters, with separate cook units, toilets and shower block.

The best 15 from Kampala- thank you.

The best 15 from Kampala- thank you.

We also had the opportunity to visit Opio George at Gulu High School, he is now in Senior 4 (grade 10) and doing well. He is a well spoken confident boy that we think has the determination to complete secondary.  Last summer he helped his grandmother move back to her traditional land and built her a hut to live in, this year during school break he plans to go home and build himself a hut.  We also had a surprise visit from Irene Ajok, she was one of our sponsor children that we supported through Primary 7 to secondary 1. However near the end of school, she met a man, dropped out of school (age 13) and now has a young child. Dusman and Madame Openy were very disappointed in her decision to leave school as they had spent a lot of time counseling her about the importance of school.  When Irene saw us, she cried and was unable to speak for some time. Life is tough; she is a single mother trying to raise her young daughter. Sometimes we miss opportunities in life; hopefully this makes you stronger….

The ratio of girls moving onto secondary after Primary is 1 for every
2 boys. Less than half the students that start in primary 1 will graduate in Primary 7.

Opio, Phil and Dusman at Gulu High School

Opio, Phil and Dusman at Gulu High School

Philip with Irene and her new daughter.

Philip with Irene and her new daughter.

We are now back in Kampala and are preparing to go to Kibale to see our friend Jules and solar lights for to light up the Discovery School.  On the way back from Gulu we purchased something on the side of the road just so I could take pictures for Ken (Ssubi web programmer).

For Ken- really big mushrooms

For Ken- really big mushrooms

Hand Over Ceremony

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

Today we handed over the Richard Theriault Library and teacher quarters to Lela Obaro Primary School. It was a beautiful day full of celebration and appreciation for all those who helped in the process.
We were greeted and welcomed by Bola Bola Dancers and the school children.  We had many guests attend including Chairman Mao (Gulu District Local Council 5, somewhat like a Canadian premier), Jacob Oulanya (former Member of Parliament), Reverend Vincent Ocen (District Education Officer), friends and family of Richard Theriault and Abdul Bykagaba from Heritage Oil. There were a lot of good speeches but I think the most moving was by Chairman Mao who spoke directly to Margot, Lane and Sydney. “ Margot the library is a way for us through Ssubi to help dry your tears and you have also helped dry ours after 20 years of civil war. Lane and Sydney you have lost a father but have gained 385 brothers and 320 sisters and Margot you should go in the genius book world of records as you now have 705 children.”

We opened each building with a ribbon cutting, the library was officially opened by family and friends of Rick and the teacher quarters were opened by Chairman Mao and Abdul from Heritage Oil. The head teacher was challenged to ensure the tools we have provided are used to increase the performance of the school in national exams.  The library is the only one of its kind in a public school in Gulu district; it will become a model for other schools to follow. The librarian was encouraged to let students take the books home for reading, he was very concerned about this practice as he does not want anything to happen to his new books. The toilet block will be dedicated to girls in hopes of reducing absenteeism due to unhygienic toilet conditions. The teacher units will also help to prevent absenteeism due to long commutes to work. The solar lighting provided in all the donated buildings will enable studies to take place in the evenings and community meetings to occur. All in all we have helped complete two of the schools targets in their three year development program.

The Ssubi team will stay in Gulu for a few more days, visiting sponsor children and meeting with Madame Openy (now headmistress of Palenga) and the new headmaster of Lela Obaro.  We also plan to go back tomorrow and take pictures of the completed structures with the school children.  So stay tuned for those.

Bola Bola dancers

Bola Bola dancers

Guests at the ceremony

Guests at the ceremony

Parents and school children listening to speeches

Parents and school children listening to speeches

Lane after his speech with Dusman and school headmaster

Lane after his speech with Dusman and school headmaster

Guests were treated to Big Rock Lime- a refreshing summer treat under the African sun.

Guests were treated to Big Rock Lime- a refreshing summer treat under the African sun.

Chairman Mao and Abdul (Heritage Oil) opening the teacher quarters

Chairman Mao and Abdul (Heritage Oil) opening the teacher quarters

The Canadian boys

The Canadian boys

Friends and family of Rick with the best eleven workers from Kampala

Friends and family of Rick with the best eleven workers from Kampala

Margot and Tracy dancing with the Bola Bola dancers

Margot and Tracy dancing with the Bola Bola dancers

Philip dancing with the Bola Bola dancers

Philip dancing with the Bola Bola dancers

Students in front of the new teacher quarters

Students in front of the new teacher quarters

Canadian volunteers Emily and Maggie from Concordia University have helped with painting structures and taking pictures at the opening ceremony for Ssubi- thank you.

Canadian volunteers Emily and Margery from Concordia University volunteers abroad program. They helped Ssubi by painting and taking pictures at the opening ceremony - thank you.

Mwanda (engineer), Ssouzi and Ben celebrate project completion with Big Rock – the best beer they have ever tasted. Next year I promised the best eleven I would bring enough so they could all have one.

Mwanda (engineer), Ssouzi and Ben celebrate project completion with Big Rock – the best beer they have ever tasted. Next year I promised the best eleven I would bring enough so they could all have one.

August 3, 2009

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

The Flock’s arrived in Gulu yesterday and were put to work early today. We went in to town to buy small gifts for the students, like pencils and notebooks, to give out at the opening ceremony of the Rick Theriault Memorial Library. We also had the privilege of witnessing Dusman’s bargaining skills in action! We purchased 5 bicycles for the teachers yesterday and today some of us rode them in to the village from the main road (about 10 km!). It was not easy!  We finished painting the exterior of the library and stamped the books with our Ssubi stamps before organizing the books on the shelves. The library has really come together nicely. The memorial plaque in honour of Rick was also installed by Margot and her family to finish off a great day.
We look forward to the big opening ceremony tomorrow morning!

Dusman barters for a deal on gifts for the students.

Dusman barters for a deal on gifts for the students.

Brandon, Lane, Syd and Sean at the beginning of a long ride to the site.

Brandon, Lane, Syd and Sean at the beginning of a long ride to the site.

Dena and Brad Flock painting the library.

Dena and Brad Flock painting the library.

Dena, Syd, Margot and local helpers stamping and dating books in the library.

Dena, Syd, Margot and local helpers stamping and dating books in the library.

Philip and Dena putting books on the shelves, almost done!

Philip and Dena putting books on the shelves, almost done!

Tracy plays librarian in the beautiful new library.

Tracy plays librarian in the beautiful new library.

Lane and Margot help Bosco install the memorial plaque.

Lane and Margot help Bosco install the memorial plaque.

Sydney (Margot and Ricks daughter)