Tuesday, August 7, 2012

"I have no fear of drowning, it's the breathing that's taking all this work" -Jars of Clay

A few people have been asking for more details on the ministry side of things here.
Due to child protection laws, I am not able to take pictures of the children that I work with and post them on here directly. Hence why most of the pictures I've put up are of scenery or items. As one who used to strive to photo-journalize stories, this has been hard for me to tell the stories of my daily interactions at the school.  So...let's play a little game. Paint the following pictures of my yesterday in your head :)

7:00am Alarm. Time to get up and get ready for another chance to glorify God. Take bread for breakfast.

8:15am Show some of the new teachers staying on my compound how to walk to the boda stage. Teach them the basics of boda riding, pricing and safety. Hire bodas to drive us all down to Heritage International School.

8:30am After warmly greeting everyone in the office (including a woman who has worked at the school, but been on leave in her village, and was shocked and thrilled to see me) find a place to plug in the computer. I soon discover that the printer has not been plugged in or turned on. Find the tech guy to attach missing plug to printer. Print off tons of Reading Comprehension worksheets. Wander around campus to find one of the men with the keys to open the classroom I've been working in.

9:00am Find Child 1 sitting on the veranda of the office. Walk with said child to the classroom. This child is a native english speaker, but due to learning disabilities has really struggled with reading. It's been a challenge to know how to best teach an almost teenager who is unable to remember how to read the word "I". We work together on phonics and letter sounds and letter directions. This child has an amazing heart, is sweet beyond belief, loves to help people, and really longs to understand things.

10:00am Bid Child 1 good-bye and go to the office to get some tea. It is cold. I meander around campus hoping my next students will show up. Return to classroom to work.

10:30am Call parents of Child 2 & 3 to inquire after their whereabouts. We don't have a contact for Child 4 and are unable to find out where they are. Child 2 & 3 quickly show up. I've taught their younger sister in Grade 1 a few years ago, so I know the family and their struggles. English is not their first language and the father is gone most of the year working in another country. The mother does not speak English and has babies to care for. Both children have left their homework at home. Isn't it so true that the students who need to most help are the hardest to help? Read with Child 2 while Child 3 is working on a Reading Comprehension worksheet to increase his understanding of the main idea and point of the story. Then listen to Child 3 read aloud to increase his fluency and expression while Child 2 goes over a worksheet to improve his vocabulary.

11:00am Ask Child 2 & 3 to sit at the office and wait for their ride. Pick up Child 5 at the playground. Child 5 is young and closer to the age group that I am accustomed to working with. The parent in the picture is incredibly supportive and eager to figure out what is going on with the child. We work on reading and writing simple words and learning phonics blends. A lot of the time is spent on re-focusing and trying to get the child ready for a classroom setting. Such a cutie!

I also tutor Child 6 on other days. This child is quite a bit older, but missed out on key learning in early years. I don't know the whole story, but I can imagine it's quite long and complicated. Child 6 is newly adopted and has had an incredibly tough life, but is eager to learn and optimistic about life! I work with this teen on phonics and building vocabulary.

12:00pm Drop Child 5 off at the playground. Work on finding more worksheets for the next day. Occupy Child 2 & 3 some while they still have not been picked.

1:00pm Call a boda to come to school. Make sure the office is aware of Child 2 & 3 still being around. Ride home with Godfrey, the boda driver. Run into the house to drop my bag and pick up straws. As I start to leave the electrician shows up. Follow him to the inverter. Power still off. Discussion about how visitors dried hair in the morning when power was off and disrupted the inverter. Informing the electrician that they thought it necessary due to the Buganda (the main tribe) culture needing to have dry hair when out in public. Electrician repairs inverter. Leave house on boda. Direct Godfrey the way to the Kinawataka Women's Initiative to visit Benedicta and the women and children affected by HIV who make things out of plastic drinking straws to provide income (check out their work here).

1:45pm Arrive at the Kinawataka Women's Initiative. Discover Benedicta is not around. Get her phone number and call her. Explain who I am and she eventually remembers. Inform her that I've brought the black straws she asked for from America. Decide to talk with people there for a bit, place an order to help them out and set up to return next week when I know Benedicta will be around.

3:00pm Home at last. Hungry. Make lunch without power. Consume lunch in peace on a couch and front door wide open, breeze blowing the curtains. Susan arrives and starts working. Get out my ukulele to play some worship songs and have some Jesus time on the veranda.

4:00pm Hear water running at back of house. Go back to water tower to turn the handle to shut off water. Discuss how the pump and mechanism are broken with the guard.

4:30pm I pick up my book One Thousand Gifts to read outside. Susan leaves, not having time to tutor today due to things she needs to do at home. Perhaps Wednesday? Usually during our tutoring sessions we start off by going over some lists of words to work on knowing. Then do what is called an Language Experience Story (LES), where she tells me a short story and I write it down. Then we go over what she has dictated and slowly read it. We pick out a few words together for her to memorize- words that she uses in her everyday vocabulary and will be applicable to her. Then we work on some phonics. We go back periodically to the lists of words. And we read a story. She is delighted that she can figure out a word if she wants to.

4:45pm Talk to housemates about day. Get to know a few of the new teachers better and discuss Ugandan culture.

Every afternoon is different for me. It might mean me going to a babies home orphanage to simply hold a 2 month old child that is less than 5 pounds or play with a 1 year-old longing for attention. Today I went and stopped by the tailor to give her some business and get a few things made. Thursday I'll be taking pictures for some missionaries to use on their prayer card.

In the evenings I stay inside at home. 1st- there are mosquitoes outside. Malaria=not good. 2nd- it's not safe to be wandering the streets after dark. 3rd- I am usually exhausted. There are exceptions. The olympics have been on recently and I've gotten to go to another family's home to watch a few times, thankfully with a ride both directions.

Unable to visualize all of that? Pole sana (sorry very much in swahili). Perhaps this picture I took of a dried up dead little critter outside of my classroom one morning will aid you!