Thursday, November 26, 2009
Since January I've been teaching this wonderful woman of 34 how to read. She was in school until...preschool. She was forced to drop out of school when her mother fell ill. In order to provide for the family she had to find work. Now she is providing for not only herself but her husband and three children. So, she never learned how to read. This woman was hired by my mission in the past few years and my boss soon discovered her inability to read. What we didn't know is that her reading level really was...completely illiterate. She didn't even know the letters of the alphabet! The funny thing about living in Kampala is that you really do need to know a lot of languages- your tribal language(s), Luganda, and English. She already knew English well, so that was no problem.
As a Christmas present last year, my boss suggested that I invite Susan to learn how to read. She jumped at the opportunity and since then so much has happened. We meet once a week after she is done working at my apartment. She is really shy about her reading, so if anyone is ever around we sneak into my room and study together. You should have seen her light up at being able to read labels on food containers!
Last week I gave her a test. I wanted her to feel really motivated. At times it was hard to get her to study due to her frustration at feeling she would never learn. So, I put together a list of the words we've worked on in the past 11 months and quizzed her. In my mind, I had decided that if she got 75% of the words correct I would reward her with a bag of sugar (it may seem silly to Americans, but Africans LOVE sugar in their tea). And guess what? She totally exceeded my expectations! She got 80% right! I was SO excited for her! To think that in less than a year she's gone from not knowing her letters to taking interest in the signs that she sees all around her! She's really trying to put an effort into reading! Granted, we've still got a long way to go and are working on vowel sounds right now, but it is so exciting to see the joy in her eyes when she finishes a little book.
She's learning to read while I'm learning more about education here and adult education. The ability to read is so freeing and something that every eye reading this can easily take for granted. Reading can put dreams in our hearts and minds and bring us to new worlds! Just one more thing to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day in the states!
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
The little things I see on a daily basis crack me up. People think it’s silly how excited I get over small occurrences, but I just can’t help it. Last week when we were sitting in traffic for 2 hours (yes, there is crazy traffic here too) I randomly saw a black cat walking across a hot tin roof. I could not control the laughter that came pouring out of my stomach. It was just so funny to me! I’d never seen such a thing, but heard the song, heard of the play and heard the book referred to. So to actually see it taking place was just beyond amusing.
Every time that I pass this one particular clearing which contains a collection of garbage I look for monkeys. I was told 3 ½ years ago that monkeys live in the forest just beyond the clearing. Seeing as I love monkeys…I naturally turn my head towards that lot when we stroll by. Well recently I saw these little movements down in the ground and urged the driver to set the gears in reverse to discover what was causing them. Sadly it was not monkeys, but mongoose instead! These little scavengers also bring me delight. When I was in a park over the summer they came running all around me feet looking for food. They are not the most friendly but also quite cute. The first and ONLY time I’ve ever seen monkeys in that site was about two months ago. My surprise and excitement filled the car as my friends saw how elated I was to have finally seen those adorable little creatures in that dump.
Another animal that makes me laugh is the chicken. The joke "why did the chicken cross the road?" makes so much more sense here. He simply needed to get to the other side! One of my friends and I created a joke to counter-act it: "Why didn't the chicken cross the road? Because he didn't want to get hit by the boda-boda (motorcycle)!" Take note that we did that while laughing at a chicken frantically turning around mid run after seeing a boda come flying his direction and ran back to his starting point safely. The noises they make in those instances are hilarious. My roommate knows me well enough by now that when she hears me giggle randomly in the kitchen, it's probably due to a ridiculous sound that a chicken just produced.
A new thing I’ve discovered in the past week or so is the sun. Yes, the sun has been around for centuries, and so has the grass that it glistens on, but I’ve seen them both in a whole new way. There’s this one turn by a police post right after the quarry that I notice something small covering the earth at dusk. There are those pieces of grass that are different from others- I don’t know what they are called but the almost look like miniature wheat. When the sun is at just the right spot in the sky, they turn red and glow. It’s just gorgeous. How can something so minute bring such joy to my heart? Only a God bigger than this universe could conjure up that sort of happy delight.
I love nature and the small creatures that our God has created. The word creative is not vivid enough for what I see in the world that surrounds me. That just means the ability to create something, and obviously God has that! There is one definition of creative that fits- "making imaginative use of the limited resources available". How true is that!? God had NOTHING and made EVERYTHING! Talk about limited resources. How about words like artistic? I see an artistic God in the colors are thrown at my pupils on my morning walk. Or ingenious? I see an ingenious God when I turn a freshly picked flower upside down (while checking for ants after being handed to me by a student) and see instead a fascinating pattern on a part of a flower that not many people pay close attention to. How clever is that? He put that there just for those people who take the time to glance at his effective originality. Keep searching for those moments that make you laugh, even if those around you don't realize why, God does :) He made them that way.