Learning About Uganda Together
I wanted to give back to this organization who had given so much to us and have been a volunteer with LWB’s Education program for the past couple years, helping administer the Believe in Me schools. My seven and nine-year-old daughters have always been very excited about my volunteer work, and they absolutely love seeing the pictures of the children who attend these schools in China. They cheer with me when we hear that one of the BIM students has been adopted or has overcome a challenge. Their interest has led to many discussions in our home about the needs of orphaned children in China and also about the best ways we can give back and help to serve others in our global community.
Now that LWB is expanding their work to Cambodia and Uganda, my daughters and I are very excited to learn about these new parts of the world and to find out what the lives of children are like in these countries.
My girls have been especially touched by some of the stories that I have shared with them about children in Uganda and are eager to follow their progress as LWB sets up a new Believe in Me school in the small village of Kabale. We have had conversations about the need for accessible education for children throughout Uganda and Africa as a whole, as well as the beauty of the Ugandan nation and the great potential in all of the children who live there.
These conversations have inspired us to learn more about Africa and Uganda and also about others who have worked to help children here. Here are a few sources that we have found useful and fun. We hope they inspire you and your family to take a step beyond China and explore a new part of the world!
First of all, I highly recommend that everyone try to see The Queen of Katwe while it is still in theaters. This movie tells the true story of Phionah, a young girl from a slum in Kampala, who becomes a Ugandan chess champion after connecting with a Chess club ministry for children in the slums.
It’s beautifully filmed, giving a clear portrayal of what daily life is like for many in this large city. My daughters and I both loved this very inspiring movie, and I think seeing the images of Ugandan life on screen, rather than just in pictures, was powerful for both of them.
Here are some books we have recently enjoyed:
This book gives a sampling of the different landscapes and traditions of the 54 countries that comprise the continent of Africa. We were surprised to learn that the land mass of Africa is bigger than the US, China, Japan, and Europe combined. Uganda is not specifically mentioned, but this book provides a good overview of the varied cultures and geography of the African continent.
This is a charming book about Beatrice, a school-aged girl who lives with her family in a village called Kisinga in Uganda. Beatrice longs to attend school, but her family is unable to afford the school fees. Then they, along with several other village families, are gifted a goat by “some kindhearted people from far away”. The sale and consumption of goat milk enables her family to have an additional source of nutrition as well as to make improvements to their home and pay for Beatrice’s school fees. We were able to discuss how we hope that the cow purchased by LWB will similarly help the children at the BIM Kabale school.
Both my girls enjoyed this book and were really surprised at how desperate Beatrice was to have the chance to attend school. They couldn’t imagine wanting to go to school so badly! It was a good chance for them to gain some perspective on their great privilege to have free education so readily available to them.
In the year 2000, a six-year-old Canadian boy (Ryan) was inspired to raise money to build a well for a village in Uganda. This led to him visiting this village as a nine year old, where he connects with a Ugandan boy, Jimmy. They become pen pals, and eventually, due to a complicated chain of events, orphaned Jimmy is able to come to Canada as a refugee and is eventually adopted by Ryan’s family.
Although this is a picture book, there is a lot of text in the book so it is more suited for older school-aged children. In addition there is a pretty terrifying description of young Jimmy’s kidnapping at the hands of LRA rebels, the politics of which were beyond my daughters’ understanding. However the descriptions of the village’s great need for water were eye-opening to both of them, and we talked about how this was similar to the challenges faced by the children who will be attending LWB’s BIM Kabale school.
Ryan and Jimmy are now adults. They run a foundation that helps to find sustainable water sources for developing countries, showing that you never know how inspiring a child to help others might lead to much greater things in their future!
On a lighter note, my oldest daughter highly recommends the book, The Great Cake Mystery, by Alexander McCall Smith. Many are familiar with his detective series for adults, The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, and this young adult book and its sequels are prequels to the adult series. It tells the story of Precious Ramotswe when she was a child, out to solve her first case.
It is set in the Southern African nation of Botswana, rather than Uganda. However, if you have a wannabe detective in your house, this is a wonderful chance for them to read a great mystery story that is set in Africa and features African characters.
Lastly, I believe that following an individual child’s story is one of the most powerful ways to show our children that they can help to impact the life of another person in a tangible way. If you and your family would be interested in sponsoring a child in Uganda and receiving updates as they progress in school, you can sponsor one of the Believe in Me Kabale students like Randi or Theo.
I hope that these suggestions have inspired you to learn more about Uganda and Africa, as well as to stir the spirit of service to others within your own family!
~Christina Lindseth is LWB’s Associate Director of Education