Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Happiness is a home

20th August 2007 was a memorable day for one of the families (part of the SOS family strengthening programme) that benefited from the housing project, initiated by Concordia University Abroad Programme volunteer students. The nicely built house was handed over to the family in a ceremony officiated by the area local leader in the presence of both CVAP volunteers and SOS co-workers. It was a promise fulfilled to the CVAP volunteers and an occasion full of praise and appreciation by local people to SOS Children’s Village Gulu.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Gardening, a favourite activity for the children

What started as a family pastime between Mother Julian with her children, is now a favourite activity for all children. They like it. They willingly get hoes and run to the garden so easily.

The Concordia Volunteers Abroad Programme (CVAP) students have also supported Mother Julian’s initiative and are helping to expand the garden. They have now planted a variety of crops, in addition to the beans and maize Mother Julian and her family started with. They have small well organised plots of onions, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and vegetables. The garden is becoming bigger and bigger. What formerly was bush, only harbouring snakes and insects, is now getting cleared slowly by slowly.

Today evening, the children were all smiles when they made their first harvest of maize. Mother Julian has really interested the children to do gardening and she has ensured that it is included in the children’s holiday programme.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Supporting children’s learning

Children in northern Uganda have suffered most in the twenty-year insurgency here. They have for a long time been denied a chance to grow up as children and have consequently lagged behind in all aspects of development, compared to children from other regions.

There is currently relative peace prevailing in the region mainly because of the peace talks between the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the Uganda government. Many parts of the region are once again accessible. However, the effects of the war continue to have an impact on the growth and development of the children. They are facing many challenges amongst which education is major. The schools are overcrowded and poorly facilitated, making it difficult for children to learn effectively. Children can hardly understand English. And not only do they learn English but they also learn “IN” it, which also leads to their poor performance, even in other key subjects.

SOS Children’s Village Gulu has come up with some initiatives and welcomes all good ideas intended to help the children. One child with learning difficulties was taken to a Special Needs School (SEN) in Kampala in May 2007, upon the recommendation of a psychiatrist. Surprisingly, when we visited him on the occasion of their sports day in July 2007, he could understand and speak confidently in English. He had a very high score in mathematics and enthusiastically participated in most of the sporting activities, in which he was given presents for his good performance. He is loved by the teachers because of his good progress, all that in less than three months. This was encouraging to his SOS mother and other co-workers as well.

Another intervention was to initiate an evening study programme, in which two external teachers were contracted to support the individual children with homework during daily evening prep. To further strengthen this area, we intend to increase the number of teachers to four next year.

There are also other programmes intended to expose the children to the outside world. For instance, through family outings organised by their respective SOS mothers, (such as a recent one to view crocodiles) children not only enjoy an adventure but they also learn spontaneously. They return home when they have a lot to narrate to their colleagues.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Good news! The long-awaited construction of new village finally begins

It was good news to the SOS community in Gulu on 21 July 2007 when the company contracted to build the new village finally arrived to begin the construction. The three-man advance team are currently busy mobilising resources to start the construction. Within one week, they contracted casual workers to clear the area where 13 family houses and village offices are to be built. Only eucalyptus trees were left standing. They are now busy measuring and marking where the houses are to be located.