I have been living in Uganda for almost three weeks now. When I first arrived, my mind was swirling with the sounds and smells of Mbale. This place is alive and well with big personalities and people with unique stories.
By profession, I am an artist and a teacher. I have spent my time in the schools and have loved every minute of it. I am greeted at the gates with enthusiasm and smiles. Many games of tag, hide-and-go-seek, soccer, and dance offs have happened in the school yard. Drama lessons have happened in the classroom.
Inside the classroom, these children are bright and have a love for learning. They are eager to learn. Every student has a unique journey and most student succeed with a little support from their teacher and support from a stable home environment.
This week, as I observed a classroom, I noticed a boy sitting in the corner at his own small table looking at books, his focus changing frequently. He was not involved in the teacher’s lesson. If he tried to join the other students, he was put back in his seat. As I noticed this, my desire to be an advocate for every child kicked into high gear; I wanted to learn this boy’s story. Who was he? Why did I find him like this? Was this his normal?
This led me to learn that there is a severe need for information and knowledge in the field of teaching those students with special needs. Since this encounter with this young boy, I have met several other children with apparent special needs either in the classroom or walking the streets. Who are these children’s advocates?
I talked with a mother of a child with special needs and she seemed completely overwhelmed with the situation. Unfortunately, that led her to giving up on her son’s educational future.
This breaks my heart. It is my hope and desire to start small and help this one mother regain hope to help her son.
Cali, Uganda Team Volunteer