March was a very busy and a very exciting month.This is definitely the best behaved and most loving group of boys we have ever assembled at one time! They all do their required chores without complaining and are eager to learn and participate in group activities. Many are very bright, but, as always, there are a few who struggle to complete the simplest directions.
We hired an Assistant Manager, Jeremiah. He has a teaching degree and is very knowledgeable. He’s an excellent teacher and seems to be very loving and caring with the boys.
We took all 10 newest residents for medical exams. Andrew received treatment for typhoid and James had to have a molar extracted. Unfortunately little Jonah (approximately age 10) was found to be HIV+. We received daily medications for him which made him seriously weak and dizzy. We cannot say why, but he ran away and did not take his medications with him. We have tried to locate him, but he is not to be found. Tibu was treated for malaria.
Our biggest news is, of course, our new CLASSROOM! I can’t begin to tell you what an amazing difference it has made in the boys’ attitudes and eagerness to learn. We had the room painted and the boys scrubbed the floor. Hassan and I set out to locate a carpenter who made all the furniture in less than a week. We were able to purchase a book shelf, a file cabinet, a teacher’s desk and chair, a blackboard and four ‘sit and write’ stations for just under $500. (A sit and write is a 4’ narrow table with a shelf underneath the writing surface with an attached bench.) Three boys can be seated at each sit and write. (Our two youngest fellows go to kindergarten so do not attend the daily classes.) We also purchased wall charts and maps, many books, arts and crafts supplies, a globe and miscellaneous learning materials. These items cost approximately $400, leaving us with additional money to buy more books and supplies.
Morning classes include Bible study and reading and afternoon classes consist of math and geography or current events or history and different learning games to expand their understanding of various subjects. One day we discussed the solar system. Every child was surprised to learn that men had actually walked on the moon, and even more surprised to learn the first walk had been some 40 years ago! I showed them, on the globe, where my home is in America and how very far it is from Uganda. They asked if I flew on a plan to travel. When I said yes, they told me that they would watch the skies every morning to see my plane heading back to Kampala. We all laughed hard when I explained that the trip was 24 hours and that I only went home twice a year and the rest of the time I lived in Kampala. We have designated the oldest boy, Saddam, as being in charge of keeping the classroom clean. Every evening he must tidy the room and wash the blackboard and make sure everything is ready for the next morning. We are “paying” him a few shillings a day, which we keep in an envelope, so he will have the means to buy articles he needs for “real school” when he leaves us next month for boarding school.
Of the 12 leaving in May, we are most concerned about little Shafic, who cannot be more than 10. He is from a village that is widely known for witchcraft and evil activities. He says that he does not remember his mother and that his father gave him to his grandmother to raise, and that she also didn’t want him and was mean to him. We really are hesitant about returning him
to this ‘family situation’, most particularly in a village where witchcraft is practiced. I have located an American family who is willing to pay for his boarding school, but the problem still remains as to where he can reside during his school vacations. He’s in such need of love! Last week, when I told the boys I was to return to the States for an extended period and would not see most of them again after Tuesday, his eyes got teary and it absolutely broke my heart.
Bakka set in search of Saddam’s father as he too needs a home to stay when he will be on school vacations. All Saddam could remember was that his father worked in a quarry in the Budo area. After many hours they located his father, who appeared to be happy to see his son but said he could not afford to pay for any schooling. Bakka explained that Saddam already had a school sponsor and only a vacation home was needed. His father agreed to house him at those times. We are praying that this arrangement will work as Saddam loves his father so much. His father said that Saddam’s real name was Moses and that he must have changed it to prevent being found.
After the 12 boys leave in May, and the supplies are being purchased for the arrival of new residents, Elijah will do follow up visits to Bashir in the Congo and Andrew in Mbarara. The time of new arrivals is always so hectic and exciting, new faces with new personalities, and many new names to remember.
I found a very young puppy, barely 5 weeks old, in the middle of one of the city’s busiest roads. I snatched her from the traffic and took her to the Shelter as a mascot for the boys. They adore her and have named her Poppy. They are very good at caring for her, feeding her and making sure she stays safe. She’s just a tiny thing amongst so many busy bodies!
There is no way that we can thank you all enough for everything you do for these vulnerable children. The classroom is absolutely what we needed most! The children are discovering that learning is FUN and realize that the attainment of knowledge will improve their lives in the future. They all send their love and many hugs of appreciation. May the good Lord watch over you, may He reward you abundantly for your kindness, may He keep you healthy, may He grant you a long life.