The African Revival livelihoods team spent the most of last week in Agago and Abim – districts within Uganda’s Acholi sub-region – to monitor the progress of our school demonstration gardens programme “LEARN” which launched last year with funding from SNV ( you can learn more about the programme here.
The green and lush districts of Agago and Abim are situated in Uganda’s beautiful north-western mountainous region. In this remote area, the key livelihood strategy is farming and agriculture. However, in recent years, crop yields have been greatly affected by climate change and changing weather patterns, which have disoriented the traditional planting seasons. Consequently, in spite of their beauty, these districts have known great poverty; feeding and clothing families continues to present a daily challenge for many.
In the Abim district, LEARN’s project support workers – Denis and Godfrey – have been working on the ground to mobilise community gardens in ten local schools, where groups of parents can gain new agricultural skills and training on how to maximise their crop yields, and in turn, their profits. Maize and sweet potatoes are the most popular crops to grow, but the livelihoods team have been introducing new crops to the region – such as aubergines and tomatoes – through providing seeds to the school gardens group, to provide greater nutritious variation within the local community.
One parent, George working at Akwangagwel Primary School’s garden, said: “I am happy to learn new skills; I have learnt how to plant nursery beds, and learnt that you should plant your seeds in rows to maximise crop yield. Growing more crops means I have more profits so it has lightened my financial concerns. It is a relief for me to be able to pay for my children’s school fees, because their education is very important to me. Also, now I visit their school more often to track the progress of my children”. We are so pleased that the project is positively impacting hard-working households like George’s. Indeed, our ultimate goal is to positively impact children’s education and so, the hope is that with the extra income generated by the garden, parents will no longer struggle to pay children’s school fees, and purchase scholastic materials for their children. Denis told us that he is encouraged with the progress of the programme, particularly “ seeing people replicate what they have learnt at the school gardens into their own gardens at home is so encouraging; people have been increasing their productivity at home which is great.”
The school gardens project has also mobilised “garden clubs” for primary school children; agricultural work is often by children as a punishment, a perception we are keen to change and instead demonstrate that farming is a profitable activity. Through the garden clubs, our team has sought to enthuse and empower children through learning new agricultural skills, and transforming these into profits which can be used to buy scholastic materials, or school uniforms. The student garden club at Acangali Primary School has had a successful harvest, the onions were particularly plentiful! Sarah, the chairperson of the student garden club told us: “I am learning new skills; and I have shown my new knowledge to my family. I go to work in the garden three times a week, and I have really enjoyed making some money which I can use to help my education”.
We hope that this garden continues to perform well, and that the children’s hard work and dedication will pay off with a fruitful harvest later on in the year. As always, you can catch more project updates on the website, and on social media so be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook!Posted in News | 1 Comment
As part of our Jumpstart! Project, our education team have introduced open days in African Revival supported schools, where each term, nursery school parents are invited to visit their children’s ECD centres. During these open days, parents discuss their children’s progress with their teachers, visit the classrooms, and find out about what their children have been learning. The Jumpstart! team is hoping that this new initiative will increase parents’ involvement in their children’s development, and forge strong relationships between parents and teachers through increased accountability with one another.
One school we caught up with is Anaka P7 Primary School. Do you remember Irene, who attended ECD training in February? Irene, who is teaching the K2 class at the school, told us: “When I was at the training, I was so inexperienced but now, I just think teaching is the best thing! I love it so much; the knowledge I have gained from training, I am using it all the time. I know how to the control my class and I know all my students so well.” Irene, who teaches 54 pupils, has been innovative in managing such a large class. “The children are doing great this term; they were too many really but I have divided the children into three work groups: lions, elephants and tigers. Each group sits together, and completes tasks together, which helps me manage the students better.”
We were certainly impressed when we visited her K2 classroom during the open day, which Irene has transformed. The classroom is now covered in bright learning posters and alphabet flashcards which Irene made herself. Irene tells us that the posters are helping the children to learn, as they often sit quietly at look at these learning materials. Irene has also created a “shopping area”, where she displays learning props which she has gathered, such as counters, empty bottles, and pottery made by the children.
The students’ parents were proud of their impeccable behaviour in the classroom, and their writing skills: this term, each student has learnt to write their own name. Joanne is one of the top performing students in Irene’s class, and told us that she loves school because “It makes me concentrate and do well in exams. I have learnt how to make pots, and now I know all the body parts which is good because I want to be a doctor.”
These open days have provided an invaluable opportunity for parents to track their children’s progress, and admire their children’s handiwork. Sarah, who is the parent of Emmanuel, a K1 student at Purong Hill ECD centre, told us: “I have really enjoyed visiting my son’s classroom, and actually seeing what he is learning. I can see now just how much the teachers do for him. I can tell that nursery school has been good for Emmanuel, because at home, he is always telling me about the things he is learning; he now knows the names of most household items”.
Here at African Revival, it is a real joy to see children thriving in their learning environments, and we hope that children and teachers everywhere enjoy their well-earned half-term break this week, and come back refreshed, ready for a productive and successful second term. Be sure to follow the progress of our Jumpstart! students right here on the website, and on our various social media channels!Posted in News | Leave a comment
A huge thank you to all our golfers who attended our 10th Annual Golf Day yesterday. It might have been a little breezy but otherwise we had great weather – and it was a close battle between teams from Call Connection, Academy Insurance, Chaucer Insurance, Open GI , 1 Answer Insurance, Be Wiser Insurance, Transactor GSL, Ignition Select, The A & A Group, CCL / Hertz, XS Direct, David Rasche Consulting and a team headed up by our trustee Glen James. Well done to our champions Academy Insurance who claimed the winner’s shield!
A big thank you to all who for attending, playing our Hit The Green competition and bidding so generously in the auction. We’re delighted that the amount we raised was an amazing £11,020. This will go a long way towards supporting our education projects in Uganda and Zambia – and really is a substantial amount which will have a big impact on our work. We want to make sure every child can go to school and get a quality education – so thank you so much for helping us work towards this vision. It makes a huge difference.
Thanks to our host Steve McPherson, our great volunteers Gerry and Gemma, Stoke Park Golf Club, all those that donated auction prizes and our auctioneer Nick Carter.Posted in News | Leave a comment
Our very own trustee Antoine Pesenti ran the London Marathon for us again on Sunday 26th April 2015. He finished in an amazing 2 hours and 54 minutes and so far has raised almost £6,000 for African Revival – congratulations and thank you Antoine!
You can still donate to Antoine’s fundraising efforts and help him towards his target here
Interested in running the London Marathon for us next year yourself? Keep an eye on our website and social media for more details!
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Today, our Gulu office says goodbye to Nicola, who has been volunteering as our Finance Manager there for the last 6 months, along with her partner Jon. Our CEO Colleen had this to say:
“Dear Nicola, what a whirlwind 6 months! From start to finish you have been extremely resourceful, flexible and professional, and because of your dedication and hard work, our accounting and budgeting systems are now finally taking shape. I cannot thank you enough for all everything you have done for us and I sincerely hope you and Jon enjoyed your time in Gulu as much as we have enjoyed having you both there.”
“I know the Gulu team is going to miss you and Jon, but I am happy to say the UK team is really excited about you joining us in a part-time capacity as Finance Director upon your return! I would like to thank you and Jon on behalf of everyone at African Revival for your commitment of time and energy in the last 6 months.”
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On the 1st of April 2015, our Construction Co-ordinator Vincent was pleased to officially hand over the Juba Road Primary School construction site to contractors, who, supported by African Revival, are now free to begin building two teacher’s houses.
After signing a memo of understanding with African Revival, our contractors Robert and John-Paul and their team of men will be constructing a twin house on the school premises. This will provide accommodation for two staff members of Juba Road Primary School – a school located just 30km from the South Sudanese border. African Revival has a strong relationship with the school, having already built classrooms, latrines and a girls’ washroom there, and we are excited to be building (quite literally!) upon this relationship in the coming months, as we work together to improve facilities.
Currently, many of the school’s teachers live in huts near the school property but, in several months, some fortunate teachers will be enjoying the new accommodation. This includes Millie-Grace, the senior woman teacher and Richard, the deputy head-teacher, who travels a considerable distance to the school every day. The head teacher, Fred O’Kot, chose these teachers because Millie-Grace’s role is “paramount – and living on the premises will enable her to attend to the girl children more fully”. Indeed, Mr O’Kot is passionate about promoting the retention of female students at the school, a goal which has been greatly assisted by the building of the girls’ washrooms. 312 girls are currently enrolled (out of 712 pupils), but drop-outs begin to occur from P5. This is why Mr O’Kot is keen to increase female teacher presence in the school; to support girls, encourage them in their studies, and help with any challenges which may lead them to discontinue their studies.
Mr O’Kot believes that by having Millie-Grace and Richard on site, “we will have both senior staff present to talk to both boys and girls about the challenges girls face as they become women; we want our boys to understand these and support the girls so that they can all grow and learn together.” Having senior staff members easily accessible to the children will facilitate these sorts of discussions, as well as allowing them to better support children in all their needs – both academic and pastoral.
One of the contractors, John-Paul, whose team recently completed the girls’ dormitory at a teacher training college in Kitgum, assured the head teacher that he is looking forward to commencing work and will deliver quality results as proven in the past. John-Paul also asserted that ultimately, the project belongs to the community, and he is therefore keen to see teachers and parents take ownership of the project by helping to locate local materials and labourers as a way of also boosting the local economy. Vincent echoed these words, voicing his expectation that the construction team will “work to an excellent standard, producing structures which other schools will want to emulate. Let this be a model for future works in schools.”
As the chairman of the SMC, Richard symbolically broke the ground where construction will begin. Millie-Grace told us that “I am so excited, and looking forward to the completion of the new housing. My hut, where I live now, isn’t very safe or secure and I often have to keep going back to home to check on it – but now I will feel safe and comfortable, and will be able to spend more time at school, and be more available to my pupils – particularly the girls”.
As African Revival left the school, Mr O’Kot assured the team that the school “is ready and willing to work together, and we will support you in every way we can – let’s work as a team to make this project as simple as possible”. We are confident that John-Paul and Robert’s team will do a fantastic job with the teachers’ houses; we look forward to tracking their progress, and of course celebrating with the school once the building has been completed. As always, all our projects at African Revival are motivated by our desire to improve access to, and quality of, children’s education, and our hope is that the new houses benefit Richard and Millie-Grace, and in turn, will positively impact the children they are responsible for.Posted in News | Leave a comment
The school’s head-teacher, Lily-Rose, is a firm believer in nurturing her students’ talents, which is why the school places a strong emphasis on encouraging extra-curricular activities. Lily-Rose told us “we really recognize that children’s gifts are not limited to their academic aptitudes; children are gifted in different ways and we want to give children the opportunity to explore all their potential talents; this will enable them to grow into well-rounded individuals”.
Indeed, Anaka P7’s students are exceptionally gifted in music and dance. Last year, the school’s Music, Dance and Drama club were crowned the best club in the Nwoya district. Unfortunately, the group did not enjoy the same success at the regional competition because they were not clothed in the proper attire. However, David, the school’s talented and enthusiastic music and drama teacher who has served at the school for two years, is feeling very excited at what the coming year may hold for the club: “ myself and the students feel very optimistic about the next competitions, as we really think we could win. We work very hard, and with the new uniforms and instruments, there is now nothing standing in our way for success. We are so grateful for these precious gifts”.
With a range of new costumes, the children truly look the part, and the students take great pride in donning their new outfits. Florence, in P5, told us: “we love our new costumes, we feel so smart- I don’t want to take it off!” The students of Anaka P7 are also enjoying having a wide range of instruments at their disposal; many children have an amazing ear for music, and are able to effortlessly play any instrument they pick up, although the Xylophone seems to be a particular favourite amongst the students!
Throughout history, music has been a powerful tool of communication- to share stories, struggles, and success. During a visit by African Revival staff, the club performed a folk song and dance, depicting the struggles of a marriage. Dressed in their new brightly-coloured costumes, the group sang about a drunken and aggressive husband who would not contribute to the household, whilst his wife was left to tend to the fields, and the home. During the performance, the wife takes action, calling a meeting with his parents to discuss the problems within the marriage, until resolution and reconciliation is achieved.
As the pupils harmonize beautifully and dance energetically to the rhythm of an African drum, the children clearly enjoy these performances. However, in spite of the fun, these songs also help children learn important lessons which may serve them well in the future; how husbands and wives should treat each other, and how to resolve conflict in a productive manner. Moreover, learning complex songs and poems also helps children in building their English language and memory, as well as increase their confidence.Posted in News | Leave a comment
Agung Primary School’s nursery school was established in 2013 by the local community. The school is easily accessible to children in the surrounding villages, as it is located on a tarmac main road, enabling children to walk to school in every season. At the school’s entrance, orangey-red bricks have been strategically positioned to create a welcoming pathway to lead students, teachers and visitors into the school.
The nursery school is currently in a transitional phase; the original strucutre was recently dismantled, and a new larger one is now being built in its place to better accommodate the large number of nursery students. Whilst parts of the old nursery building have been recycled to be used for the new classrooms, the rest of the materials and labour are being donated by the parents.
In the midst of this building work, Agung’s nursery pupils are currently being taught in a newly built secondary school which is not yet open. The two rooms used by the nursery school are big, bright, airy, and clean. However, within these temporary classrooms, there is a lack of basic furniture including chairs, tables, and cupboards. Instead, children sit on a mat on the concrete floor during their lessons.
The K1 class, with over 70 pupils, is so large that two teachers – Oliver and Miriam – are needed in the classroom; one teacher conducts the lesson, whilst the other watches over the class and helps individual pupils with their work. The 63 K2 and K3 students study together in one classroom, taught by Dorcas who, as part of African Revival’s Jumpstart! programme, recently attended an Early Childhood Development (ECD) training course.
In spite of the minimal materials at their disposition, the staff are extremely committed to their students, and have tried to make the temporary classrooms as inviting as possible. They have put up hand-made posters, displayed their pupils’ drawings, and use recycled materials including empty soda bottles to use as learning aids during maths lessons. Oliver told us: “I like making displays, making things bright for the children so that when we are marking books, the children are stimulated by what they see around them, and learn massively. However, we do need manilas, and colouring pens.”
Caroline, in K3, told us that “I like singing and dancing; I like this classroom but it will be nice to go to our new school when it is ready”.
The children at Agung Nursery School commence their classes at 8am until 12pm, spending their mornings singing and dancing, before learning arithmetic, reading and writing. At 10.30am, the pupils walk up the path towards the primary school, where they are served a hearty portion of sweet porridge.
One of the challenges in this school is that the parents of pre-primary school students frequently neglect to pay their children’s school fees, which means the teachers have not been paid properly for several months, and many children are unable to attend classes until the outstanding bills are paid. However, Dorcas tells us “I love to teach, some teachers wouldn’t stay because we don’t always get paid, but I want the children to learn so keep coming.” As such, as part of our Jumpstart! project, our Education Programme Co-coordinator Richard recently conducted a community sensitization meeting to highlight parents’ responsibilities towards their children’s education, and sought to motivate the local community to actively engage in their young children’s learning.
Despite the challenges, the school is full of potential to help its nursery students thrive. In the coming months, we will be working with the school to provide much needed furniture, learning resources and teacher support, in order to offer children the best possible learning experience which will fully equip them to succeed in primary school when the time comes.Posted in News | Leave a comment
Every morning, Babra walks 3km along the dusty country roads with her older brothers and sisters to attend pre-primary school in Willacic. Often, Babra will meet her friends along the way, and will continue her journey skipping and playing with her companions until they reach their classroom. In spite of the long walk, Babra, dressed in her smart red and white checked school uniform, looks the part for a new day of learning. Babra’s favourite meal is porridge, which is handy because her teachers serve a break-time meal of porridge to their young students every day to ensure that pupils have sufficient energy and concentration levels to engage in the classroom activities after travelling considerable distances under the hot sun to attend school.
After spending four and a half hours at pre-primary school in the morning, Babra likes to spend her afternoons relaxing and playing outside her with siblings; they particularly enjoy playing ball games in the open space near their home. Although Babra isn’t sure what she wants to do when she is older, Babra tells us that she likes doing chores at home, because she enjoys working alongside her mother. Babra’s favourite task is fetching water from the local borehole – a job she does every afternoon to support her family.
Through our Jumpstart! programme, we hope to help students like Babra develop the physical, social, mental, and cognitive skills which will enable her to blossom into a well-rounded individual, full of confidence that she can achieve anything she puts her mind to.Posted in News | Leave a comment
Livilan is currently in K2, and is taught by Denis – an energetic and motivated teacher, who is well-liked amongst his pupils. In particular, Livilan likes teacher Denis because he does the “scooter” with his pupils anytime they walk anywhere together. Every morning, after the K2 class has played games outside to warm up for the day, Denis lines the children up in a nice straight line, and the children then pretend to be scooters and sing their special scooter song, as they “scoot” off side-by-side back to their classroom.
Livilan is no stranger to the scooter as each day, Livilan climbs onto a Boda-Boda (motorbike) along with his three friends whose father then drives them the short distance to St Kizito Nursery School. At school, Livilan’s favourite activities are singing, and writing. Livilan likes coming to school, because he has plenty of friends and really enjoys playing a good game of classic “hide and seek” during break-times.
When Livilan grows older, he would like to be a pilot; he tells us that he once saw a man in a helicopter, and it was very exciting. Livilan is determined to work very hard to become a pilot, and one-day drive around on a motorbike.
Livilan is a confident and chatty young man, full of ambition, and we are sure that through Jumpstart! and the support of his fantastic teacher Denis, Livilan will be fully prepared for primary school next year which in turn, will help him achieve his goal of becoming a pilot. May the sky quite literally be the limit for Livilan!Posted in News | Leave a comment