Africa Story Part 2: School Supplies Are Heading To Uganda

Yesterday, we delivered on our promise. It has been a long journey, but one very important and exciting one that will continue to develop and grow stronger over time.

Over a year ago we established connection with a village in Uganda, Africa. We collaborated on a project comparing what success means between students and have worked to provide school supplies to the village. As we worked to make this happen we have joined forces with Pencils of Promise in hopes of raising enough money to build a school. We have a long way to go and so far not made much progress.

However, we made huge progress in finally getting supplies to the village in Uganda.

The goal of this project is to help students think about others, care about others, and do good deeds to inspire more positive actions among one another.

Since our last post updating everyone with our friends in Uganda, I want to continue the story with the result being the supplies heading to Africa as we speak.

May 2014 

If we go back to May/June and the end of our school year we did a school wide locker cleanout which every school probably does. What we did differently this year is ask that any decent supplies not used or not in terrible condition be donated to gathering school supplies for our friends in Uganda and hopefully to other areas in need. I could not believe how many supplies we were given. It was both amazing and heartbreaking at the same time. Amazing in that we have so much supplies to help others in need. Heartbreaking that many students don’t care about the supplies and would just toss them out and not think twice, or worse yet were not used to enhance their learning.

Regardless, we have over 500 lbs of supplies

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June and July

Not much was done due to summer break. I did not want to move things forward because that would be me doing the work and not students. During this time I worked to contact other organizations, try to develop a plan to expand our work, and from new connections and ideas.

It was during this time that I decided to jump on board with Pencils of Promise. I was meeting with many people about creating my own platform, but with a full time job, kids, coaching, etc. I needed to join a cause. Pencils of Promise was a perfect fit as you can read about on the Build a Schools page.

During this time I connected with the amazing people who have helped so much – Eddy and Eden. I learned from Eddy that

Towards the end of January Eddy shared with me that the cool rains were returning. I asked him what that means for the people and how it affects life.

Eddy shared with me the following which I found quite fascinating:

Rain can affects life, here in Uganda in such away that , 
 Weather always changes to be cool and many fall sick closes changes to wetter 
 Heavy rains accompanied by storms normally destroy crops and affect harvest 
 Mountainous places experience landslides eg eastern Uganda 
 Heavy storms destroy crops 
 Heavy winds in rain always makes people homeless by destroying roofs of houses
 Floods normally displace people who are at lower places such as swamps and when rain destroy electric poles and they fall it affect the production of goods in factories 

Here is Iowa we love rain to help crops, cool off the temps, etc. Rains don’t affect us like they can in Uganda. It was another reminder of how important it is that we understand other cultures, landscapes, and people. It further fueled my drive to help the kids and to provide them materials to help with education.

August/September

School started back up. I shared with the staff the goals for the year. I updated them on all the supplies. During this time I had two teachers help with packaging. They took on the task of organizing, sorting, and putting together the care packages. While they were working assembling I finally connect with the headmaster via email. This has been a long time coming and was so happy to finally connect. Communication is vital, but not as easy as one might think. We are oblivious to easy communication with email, texts, and social media, but when you move beyond your circle to areas that are not as quick to communicate with it can be tricky.

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I received the address of the headmaster. I learned that the phone number is the most important part of the address because many people don’t have a usable address. Eden informed me that the post office will call them and let them know that a package has arrived. This is important and to be honest something I am bit scared of as I don’t think I wrote the phone number on the label. My fingers are crossed that it arrives safely. The package will arrive in Entebbe which is close to the international airport. From there, the headmaster will travel about 8 hours to arrive at the school.
 
The most important part of the address is the phone number. People don’t have a usable address per se, the post office calls them on their phone and tells them to pick items up. Entebbe is near the international airport so they should arrive with him within 10 days of sending.
We bundled the packages for 20 students. They will have to show good grades and hard work to earn the materials. These are not free handouts. We want to reward those who are working hard. Through our communication we have learned that the students in Uganda all have one pencil or one pen, no more and no less. If the pen runs out they buy another one, but not before. The model of ecological. Stationary awards would be like winning a competition for the winning students.
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September 8th we mailed the package. It was a bit under 30lbs and the cost to ship these school supplies from Bettendorf, Iowa to Uganda, Africa was $190. I paid for this out of pocket because I believe in the cause. We have not raised money. I have sold some books to help with the cost, but we need more. We have more supplies and we have more schools in need. In order to help we need more funds. Please check the Build a School page. I am currently selling books to help. We are taking donations as well as getting ready to sell more books. We want to help and we need your help to make it happen.
This has been the most inspiring thing I have done. More kids need to be exposed to this type of work. We need to learn from others. Every culture has something to offer and what I learn from Uganda is the power of family, working together, and not taking things for granted. These are skills that we can all learn here in America.
I will update as soon as I hear word of the package arriving. Until then we will work to establish our next school supply drop and how to raise money to send the next box.

Resources

Africa Story: Part 1 http://coffeeforthebrain.com/the-power-of-international-collaboration-iowa-africa/

Images of the kids packing the supplies https://www.flickr.com/photos/coffeechug/sets/72157647002521337/

Build a School http://coffeeforthebrain.com/build-a-school/

Books for Sale http://coffeeforthebrain.com/build-a-school-books/

 

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