Friday, February 22, 2008

Family strengthening programme helps child to excel in national exams

James (not real name), 13yrs, an SOS beneficiary on the Family Strengthening Programme (FSP), was one of the best children in the 2007 National Primary Leaving Examination (PLE) in Gulu district. He was studying in Kasubi Central Primary School in Gulu municipality, one of the poorest schools in the district. He is naturally a bright child and talented in many aspects. Despite all the difficulties he goes through, he managed to score distinction two in all the four subjects and a total of 8 points. He was admitted on merit in Layibi College, one of the traditional top secondary schools in northern Uganda. He attributes his success to SOS and talks about his experiences in the following story.

"I lost my father one year after the death of my mother. This left us helpless (in a family of 8) with no one to take care of us. My elder sister had to drop out of school to carry the burden of looking after the family. Through local leaders, we were linked to SOS, who became our parents. SOS meets our basic survival needs and pays for our education.

Previously, my elder sister started a small roadside eating joint near our home to earn some income for the family. She worked for one year and realised too little to sustain the entire family. With some bit of peace she thought of growing crops far off in our village of origin. My aunt, who is very old and weak, took over her role in our daily life. My elder sister keeps checking on us. She brings all the harvest from her garden to maintain us in town.

PLE is an examination set to candidates in all the primary schools in Uganda to allow them to go to secondary schools. I did my Primary Leaving Examination in 2007 and I passed it very well. The following are the reasons for my good performance.

First of all, I am indeed a clever boy. During class time, I always participate in all activities when the teacher is inside the classroom. I also organise class discussions when the teacher in not in class. I was elected head boy in the school because of my ability to speak and convince others.

Secondly, I am an obedient and polite boy. I used not to talk when the teacher was inside the class. And whenever the teacher was not in class, I could instead concentrate on revising my books, but not shouting in class. I used not to dodge classes whenever the teacher was out of class.

I am also an honest person. I do not tell lies to any person. I always tell the truth. I feel like I have cheated myself if I lied to any person. This has made many people including my teachers like me.

Last but not least, I performed well because I was helped by SOS, who paid all my school fees. I was not worried of being chased back home."

Friday, February 15, 2008

SOS Gulu children welcome German President

It was an exciting moment for the SOS Gulu children and the staff who accompanied them to the Gulu airfield on 5 February 2008 to welcome His Excellency the President of Germany, Horst Koehler. When the plane landed at about 10.00am, 30 SOS children received him while waving both German and Ugandan flags and dancing a traditional royal dance called Bwola. The president came out of the plane and was received by Gulu district officials. One of the SOS girls then presented a bouquet of flowers to the German President. He was led to where the children were performing and stayed there for approximately 3 minutes while waving excitedly to them. He was then led to the official vehicle and proceeded to Bomah Hotel, Gulu University and Coo-pe IDP camp (Internally Displaced Persons Camp), where he presided over several functions.

Later in the day, at about 4.00 pm, the SOS children once again bid farewell to him at the airfield with the same Bwola dance, before his return to Kampala. At that moment, the president joined them and danced to the excitement of all the children and other guests.,