As part of the Government’s initiative “Global Dimensions” the Club has partnered with St. Nicolas Church of England School, Nuneaton in providing educational items for the children at the Homelands School and Orphanage. The School which is located at Kinoni, 60 and houses approximately 99 children, of which 43 are AIDS orphans.
Teachers from Nuneaton travel to Uganda about once a year and we have been supporting this project by sending out books, crayons, toys and three laptop computers now that the school has had solar panels fitted. In June 2011 two members of SI Solihull went to visit Rebecca and Reverend Charles at Homelands School and Orphanage themselves.
Homelands is about 100km west of Kampala, very close to the equator. Homelands has not only a school but also a farm in their 28 acres. The farm serves three purposes. First, to feed the Charles, Rebecca and the children living with them, second to sell any surplus at market and generate income and third to teach the children an invaluable life skill.
Homelands is a private school with parents paying for education, uniform and books. Charles and the School Governors try to balance the ability of the family to pay with the need to pay teachers their weekly wage.
For the children living at Homelands the day begins at about 6:30am. All the children have chores to do and if they have finished those, then they collect water from the spring. More children arrive from the local town and villages and the school day starts at about 8:00am with all the children & teachers having an assembly outside the school buildings. The children range in age from 3 to about 12. There are two lessons before break when all the children are given some maize porridge. Two more lessons take place before lunch at 1pm with afternoon lessons running from 2pm – 4pm.
Club members Gill Schofield & Angela Sadler sat in on many lessons. Angela taught four teachers how to use their laptop computer and Gill took maths lessons with each age group. The classrooms are rough and ready but the determination of the children to learn and the dedication of the teachers are both moving and impressive. The style of teaching is very much “talk and chalk” and only the teacher has a textbook.
One of the highlights was attending a meeting of the Vvamutulo Women’s Group (Meaning “Wake Up”) chaired by Rebecca. The members of the Group are widows and women whose home status “is not pleasing”. Several of them are grandmothers bringing up children orphaned by HIV/AIDS.
This is a self-help group whose aims are to teach each other how to read and write, to pass on simple modern agricultural methods of growing vegetables, poultry, pig-keeping, etc. and to train them to save their money. One of their immediate needs was a sewing-machine for the Group so that they could make and repair their own, and the children’s clothes. Gill and Angela were able to give Rebecca £80 raised by SI Solihull members which she used to buy a treadle machine in Kampala.
Without doubt the school and orphanage are worthy of our support. The children see education as a way out of poverty and are all determined to do their best. The teachers are dedicated and work for lower rates of pay than they might get in state schools and the Women’s Group is inspiring.