Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It is now approaching the end of October; the leaves have changed; it's gorgeous; and I love the fall season! However, the chilling weather is shocking for me. I have now spent two winters in Uganda and I'm finding it harder and harder to adjust to the brisk air. For one of the few periods in the past two years, I am wearing a sweatshirt because it is cold out not because I like them. This is a strange transition. What will I do when it snows?

Well... I will go back to Uganda.

Not because of the snow, but because we will be starting our next project. In January, we will return to Uganda to build St. Kizito Primary School a kitchen; we will take over a construction project to add classrooms to a Secondary School nearby to St. Kizito; and we will begin to plan for our next potential project: the construction of an orphanage and school also in the surrounding area.

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to the many events we have planned for the next two months and also to sharing the entire holiday season with my family and friends for the first time since 2005.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


BULA's investment in Education is manifesting itself in so many ways here in the States. This month has been and continues to be a very real reflection of that. This morning, we will be meeting with former teachers in the community in order to develop after school programs for the children at St. Kizito. We will be asking ourselves many questions such as:

How do you develop a lesson that is creative, exciting, and effective without any materials at your disposal?

This question may be somewhat irrevelant in the near future much to our good fortune and more so to the incredible generosity of our supporters! Several Teachers and School Districts have graciously offered us their expired materials. Among many offerings, we have a classroom full of books and teaching tools. We have been approached on various occassions for the donation of even more. We will be arriving to Uganda in the coming months with full sets of text books, counters, math games, reading programs, letter blocks and more!

To close the month and begin the next, BULA will be guest speaking at the NYS United Teachers Suffolk and Nassau Leadership Conferences. We look forward to sharing our experiences of education in Uganda with those committed to the education of children right here on Long Island! This should be an exciting opportunity to forge even stronger bonds with the surrounding school communities!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A Simple Desk

The other day, Andie and I had a meeting with a woman named Terri from Camp Hill, PA. She has done amazing work in Kenya particularly with women and children of the Masai Tribe. It was fascinating to hear about her work and learn more about the region. In conversation, exchanging stories from our work and our travels, Terry alluded to the appreciation of the children for the work we had done. She specifically brought up the various aspects of the construction, noting the concrete floors, the spacious rooms, the bright colors, and… the desks.

This brought back a whirlwind of images and memories of the children carrying benches from the church to the school and back again, to the kids hunched over in the classroom vigorously completing their assignment. I realized that these images have veered far off into the reserves of my memory and it's only when prompted do I see them. Instead, I see the children’s glowing and beaming faces against the backdrop of vibrant blue, green and pink walls sitting at their very own desks!

I thought of our hardworking carpenter making those desks all day, nonstop, for over a week in order to ensure the kids could sit comfortably and happily on their first day. I recalled him attempting different desk sizes to fit the varying ages and sizes and how I selected a few children of drastically different heights to test them out. I remember how comical it was watching as a young 9-year-old girl tested out the desk proposed for her size. The bench and the desk (connected by design) had a gap I knew would be far too large for her. She sat there reaching from the edge of the bench to lean on the desk that was not only too far away but also nearly at her eye level. She looked up at me with such contentment I could do nothing but laugh as I told her it didn’t quite fit. To her, it was perfect.