The first two projects in Phase 1 of our COVID-19 Capital Campaign have been completed!
As Ugandan schools reopened to all students in January after almost two years of pandemic closures, students were more excited than ever to read their favorite books. One of the first questions asked at many schools was “when will the Resource Centers be open to check-out books?”
Several of the Resource Centers and libraries in our Ugandan partner schools required structural repairs in order to fully reopen – thanks to you, students now have full access to all the books they need to continue their education and reach academic success.
At Lutengo Primary School, a bat infestation grew out of control while the school was closed. Because of the generosity of this community, Sister Schools was able to add a new drop-ceiling to the building and protect students, teachers, and books from the nocturnal critters. There will no more guano and urine destroying the shelving and children will finally be able to read without the disruptive noise of bats!
The pandemic also caused massive demographic shifts as many families left the cities and urban areas, relocating closer to extended family and the villages they grew up in. Sittankya Primary School saw a 22% increase in enrollment between 2019 and 2022; the Head Teacher, Esther, was able to secure outside funding for new dormitories, a well, and a library with a full-time librarian, but was not able to complete the shelving required to make the final project usable. Sister Schools donors furnished new shelving for every wall of the library – not only giving students easy access to the books that improve their academics, but also providing local carpenters with the means to support their families during these difficult times.
The final project, repairing the roof and replacing damaged shelving at Mukono Town Muslim Primary School, is well underway and continues to make progress! We are excited to share updates on that project as they become available.
In the meantime, Sister Schools is moving forward with Phase 2 of our COVID-19 Capital Campaign. The musicians at Fernwood Elementary School raised over $2,000 to provide handwashing tanks, temperature guns, and soap so that all fourteen of our partner schools will continue to meet strict hygiene requirements and remain open. Thanks to their talents and the generosity of the Fernwood community, none of our Ugandan partners are at risk of being closed this year.
During Phase 3, we are planning to meet three specific needs brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic in our partners:
1. Provide classroom materials at Ray of Hope Ministries
Ray of Hope operates a school and orphanage in Namuwongo Soweto slum, one of the largest slums in Uganda. During the pandemic, they lost their lease and Emily, the Director, converted her home into a classroom, but could only fit grades 1-4 there. Now in a new space large enough for all their students, Ray of Hope needs help outfitting the classrooms with chalkboards, textbooks, and other teaching materials.
2. Distribute clothing to the young men at Agape World Ministries
Agape has been working with Sister Schools for over twelve years. They maintain an established Drop-In Center for boys living on the street, when they can access counseling, hot meals, and showers. Every other year, they take on a select group of young men for the residential center – not only do they provide basic life skills and rehabilitation for them, but they also search for their fmailies and work with relatives to successfully reintegrate them into loving homes. Because of inflation and economic disruptions in Uganda, Agape is unable to afford clothing and shoes for the twenty-six new residents at its rehabilitation center.
3. Provide psychosocial support and counseling to educators at all our Ugandan partners.
Like most countries, Ugandans have faced many challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. As they return to school, educators have struggled to provide their students with the support they need while processing their own grief and trauma. Adults and children have experienced domestic violence, sexual abuse, starvation, death and loss, and mental health crises. By partnering with experts and counselors from Agape World Ministries, this program will provide sensitivity and awareness training to teachers, select students, and key community members, equipping them with the tools they need to support individuals in the school community.