My first week working at rural school, Kitenga Primary (picture above), a government school that primary teaches orphans (most who have lost family to HIV/AIDS) has been a rollercoaster of stress and reward. I teach 7th grade Social Studies (picture of me above) and 5th grade English, and although it is sometimes difficult for my students to understand me, we’ve been having a lot of fun. After 7th grade, most students I am teaching will not continue onto high school because the government only guarantees a free primary education. Because of child labor laws, most of my students will remain unemployed and hang around the house, making them more likely to become involved in drugs, prostitution, and contract HIV. I have had many students beg me to pay their school fees, but I sadly must explain that I’m just a student and can’t afford to pay for all of them. However, the kids are starting to warm-up to me and we often play soccer and netball during free time. They are soccer pros and as the World Cup is beginning this weekend, I think they will be very excited to talk all about the different African teams involved.

In addition to working at the school, I am working with KIDEF, a poverty foundation and the staff are the most wonderful people I’ve ever met (Margaret, is the administrator for Kitenga Primary, and Clare is a teacher there as well). Every day I work with Ivan, the representative for KIDEF that I partner with to implement a sustainable project. I have met dozens of people old, young, middle-aged in the Kitenga area are hungry, suffering from the worst kind of health conditions and struggle to maintain jobs. One story that comes across my mind is a 74 year old woman names Federice whose house is crumbling, and will collapse on her at any minute. Federice (pictured with her house) has not seen a doctor is 10 years, suffers from terrible arthritis, which has paralyzed the left side of her body, and is blind in her left eye. She is starving and thirsty (the only water she gets is delivered to her by neighbors from the swamp at the bottom of the Kitenga Mountain and she lives about 2km to the top).  Although this is extremely depressing, she remains optimistic about the help we could possibly provide her.

As for a project that could benefit the entire community, we are hoping to start a small computer program at Kitenga Primary. We are hoping to run seminars and classes for the students and the community, so in the future, they are computer literate and can research how to undertake projects on their own, without relying on help from NGOs. In addition, the students will all have free use of the computers, but the community members will pay 100 shillings, about five cents, USD, because we will need to have money to maintain the program. Although ambitious, I think this program would be pivotal in improving the community and 100% sustainable. Hope everything is going well with everyone else!!

Laura Block
Uganda Heston Intern