Breaking Cycles of Poverty

A wave of panic flowed through me after we had finished our first “teacher training session” at St. Jude’s Primary school in Nambayemba, Uganda.  Myself and a colleague were left with over 100 students to “teach” for an hour under a tree while their regular teachers used the time to prepare lessons for the next day.  It was hot, the students had nothing to eat all day and looked tired.

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What we were going to do? 

Back home, I had a variety of back-up activity ready to implement whenever there was extra time in a class.  But this was Africa, there was no YouTube, no Smart Board, no iPads, or crafts.   It was a humbling moment.  How effective of a teacher could I be without all the technology and supplies I was used to?  We survived the hour under the shade tree by singing and dancing and I left in awe of the teachers I had worked with that day who are responsible for so many students with only their voice and personality as tools.  

I wondered that first day in Africa why I had even come…. what did I have to offer them?  

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Turns out we had a lot to offer each other. 

Over the next few days we continued our teacher training sessions at different schools in the area.  The participants were grateful for the certificates we provided at the end of our session that served as evidence they had received continuing education.  These certificates, which seem trivial to us, would open doors of opportunity for them. 

After a couple sessions, I learned that the participants were more receptive to our lessons if they first got to know us.  I had come with a western mindset of not wanting to waste anyone’s time and liked to get right to business.  But I learned quickly that once we started visiting with the teachers before our training session then they were more open to share about their needs and struggles.  The life lesson learned, take the time to get to know someone.  Relationships matter.  

The teachers in Uganda are overwhelmed with the sheer number of children in their communities.  Uganda is experiencing one of the highest population growth rates in the world.  These students live in poverty and cannot afford to go to school.  If they do come, it is usually without supplies or food.  Keeping students, especially girls, in school is also a struggle.   The teachers expressed the frustration and difficulty of having to continually write and rewrite the lessons on a chalkboard or paper.  Image teaching without a textbook or a copy machine. 

 I left Uganda wondering how to help the teachers and students with more than just a temporary handout?

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Education is the way to break the cycle of poverty without a handout.  “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”  There is a reason why this quote by Nelson Mandela about education is so popular, because it is the truth!  Schools, no matter where you are in the world, are responsible for shaping the future of the next generation.

I’d like to thank Henry Ngolobe and Jesca Nalule for sharing their dream of building a school in their home town of Nambayemba.  Seeing their dreams realized will have a ripple effect and touch the lives of hundreds of people. Their passion and dedication to the youth in theircommunity has been inspiration to me. 

I Have Only Positive Expectations, HOPE, for the next generation of students that AsOne is working with in Rwanda and Uganda. 

 


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