Most children in the world enjoy a day off from school. But when schools have been closed for nine months and conditions at home are precarious, the sky can literally fall on the heads of many children. But with careful planning and a little imagination, we bring teachers to students safely in times of lockdown. In small groups, of course and with strict public-health protocols. This is how we give a Christmas present that has rarely been as important as it is today: education, self-confidence, health. Join us on our journey with Flying Teachers.
Flying Teachers – small idea with a big effect
Uganda’s lockdown is one of the strictest in the world. The vast majority, especially the youngest students, are not able to attend classes. Digital home schooling alternatives are practically non-existent. This is a national tragedy. In addition, most parents have slipped into economic hardship due to loss of jobs and income. Not surprisingly, the children are suffering most from is by now a nine month quarantine. Not to mention the thousands of unemployed teachers.
Planning ahead – the small difference between “well meant” and “well done”.
In Africa, I sometimes see well-intentioned projects that still don’t achieve their goal. This often has to do with insufficient planning. That’s why we always look twice as carefully. “Well planned is half won” is one of our basic organizational rules. This is also our protégés’ “essential learning”, so to speak. Because it helps them to stand on their own feet. As they learn to plan for larger groups and longer time periods they learn to look after themselves – and others. For example in agriculture. There all our protégés learn that we cannot harvest anything if we do not plan, sow, nurture and care for the harvest with foresight. This year, our kids have experienced this for themselves during the village quarantine, which has been going on since February.
Our “Flying Teachers” project is a prime example of the importance of good planning. This project is a great challenge for Kids of Africa. In terms of content, logistics and of course financially. Only with good preparation and consultation with all those involved – state, communities, families and teachers – can it succeed optimally. Think of the protection concept, the decentralized availability of teachers, water, cooking facilities, school materials and much, much more.
On the pictures you can see some of the beneficiaries of this project. There could be many more – but the current situation forbids it. In some villages it sometimes seems like a drop on dry earth. It does good. It connects. It nourishes – not only spiritually, but also really. All this must not be overlooked. It describes what really matters this year. Trust me, there’s more work behind this than meets the eye.
Meanwhile, a growing part of the projectwork is accompanied by our older protégés. From logistical support to administrative preparations. That’s how they take on responsibility and grow despite adversity. That is a good thing. So despite the difficult year, some young people have become stronger because of the adverse circumstances. We see: where, like this year, there is shadow, there must always be light. Isn’t that also a hint at Christmas?
But we must not close our eyes to the humanitarian price of Uganda’s lockdown. Countless families have used up their reserves. The shadow that obscures their fate is a burden that we carry, too.
The salt of the earth and the light of the world
When we reach out, its a way of following the idea of the salt of the earth. Of course, we will never change the world. But we can be like good salt or a warming light to others. Because we can all help one another. We can always light a light, offer hope and some strength. This should not sound moralizing. But it is a strong and good image of the salt of the earth and the light of the world that we are supposed to be. What else, should we be role models for our protégés? For example, the promises of the beautiful new lifestyle of the modern world, which helped so little this year to overcome the manifold challenges of lockdown, distress and flooding?
One thing is clear to Kids of Africa’s protégés: their greatest gift in life and to others are the values of solidarity, growing up in stable families, health, self-confidence and – of course – education.
That is why education is our favorite Advent gift for many this year