Year 2 during Lockdown
Uganda’s schools are set to stay closed until at least next year. The government extended the national lockdowns frustrating those who hoped to go back to school or to earn a living. Not surprisingly, our work has sometimes felt like tilting at windmills. If the government holds on to its declared ambition of vaccinating all pupils before opening schools again, then we may have to wait very long until we’re back to school again.
Meanwhile we do whatever we can. Our work is broad and intensive, alas it’s never enough. With many families exhausted and quarantines causing cabin fever, there is a never-ending list of things we could do. We focus on education, home-schooling and we send teachers to offer lessons to small groups of pupils under the open sky. There are many balancing-acts in these extraordinary efforts to help.
Above all, we seek to focus on development work which creates lasting, sustainable benefits. We cannot afford to pour resources into a bottomless pit but as Uganda’s economy suffers, there are growing demands for assistance from many areas. Thus, we try to focus with a holistic perspective. We invest into the growing-up, the education and the sense of purpose of our fosterlings. Because we believe in them. Because we’re a family. And, because we want to live up to our responsibility towards everyone of them. Because they need us, many now more than ever.
Last week we were visited by our friends from a nearby SOS Children’s Village. The SOS-Village is about five years older than our Kids of Africa-village. It’s a short distance from where we live and our families have been friends for long. Naturally, some of the eldest fosterlings at the SOS-Village have already managed to find work and stand on their own feet. Last week, three of them visited our kids. They shared their experience and emphasized the importance of acquiring practical skills over degrees. Our kids were all ears. They were impressed by what they learned and the exchange strengthened a sense of confidence. One cannot overstate the importance of such peer-learning – especially during our testing time.
After a quick game of soccer, the bonfire was lit and snake-breads as well as food from our farm was roasted. It was a meeting of minds and a meeting of friends. Good memories.
Water and life in Buhweju
Our agroforstry in Buhweju is becoming more popular as the lockdown continues one month after the other. The good climate seems to clear the mind and help against cabin-fever. Don’t forget that we’re still quarantined and have been for more than a year now. Especially our elder kids like to move to Buhweju. As schools are closed they see a welcome alternative in working physically in our forst-farm. Some look after our bees, others plant new seedlings and others again are digging trenches. Because water remains precarious as we are located on top of a hill with no real borehole nearby.
Thus, when the dry-season empties our water-cistern, we must walk a long way down the valley, fetch water and carry it back up on the hill. Meanwhile we signed an agreement with Ugandas National Water authorities to tap one of their boreholes. However, that requires that we dig trenches, lay pipes and connect our small settlement with the nearest water-pump, which is a few kilometers away. But even hard work is good work, we’d like to think. Especially when we relax after a long day’s work with a bonfire and watch the sky and the stars.
Last weekend our youngsters took to a nearby rive to search for gold. Well there isn’t enough gold in our region to cause gold-fever, nor to mine it commercially. But the experience of washing it out of the soil of a river is a pleasant pastime. Our kids certainly enjoyed it – and even found small nuggets to treasure.
Meanwhile I hope that this short letter finds you in good health and spirit. I could continue but I shall stop here. Next time, I will report about the new kids who recently joined our village and about the community work which keeps us busy. Meanwhile I am sending you all best wishes from Kids of Africa.