Covid-19 Grant – Niteo Partners Update

Through Karine’s leadership, Niteo has partnered with some incredible organizations, but more importantly, people.  They remain committed to their communities and they hold the torch for literacy amidst great challenges as the pandemic continues. 


To the best of their ability, our partners in Uganda have ensured education and literacy endures during the pandemic. Although the last couple of months have had the added stress of the election and its uncertainty.  As far as I know, all of our partners and their families were safe through all the election violence, but unfortunately, Covid-19 has touched their local communities and families. We were able to get the covid relief funds to the 7 centers that are currently open and I have contact with through Whatsapp.  Here’s a small informal update on each of the centers from the information that I garnered through our Whatsapp conversations.

 
Grace and Peace,

Jamie

UPDATES
Kampala: Nageeba
Nageeba and her six children have been doing literacy teaching sessions and supporting the education of the kids in the community. They made around 50 book bags and delivered them to families based on the age of kids – I think they rotate them every few weeks? Her older children also made lessons and had them photocopied and passed out. They also gave out masks to the community. 
Nageeba also received her additional building funds that we had committed to with the small scale grants earlier in 2020. She built a covered patio alongside her house to keep the rain out of the window into their living space. She also brought a small container to her home – her book kiosk – that she’d had elsewhere but hadn’t had access to for a number of years. It needs a new roof and sorting of all the old materials left inside, but soon she’ll be able to store her books in there and out of her living room!

8fec0a68-cc6f-4509-b05e-bf8786b29826.JPG
0a06c76b-3b31-4c1c-98c4-403334439240.JPG
25def76d-74f8-4aa9-8176-f34b5cb78be1.JPG
819384c9-9bbe-435f-bef0-a579282de187.JPG

Jinja: Peter and David (Grassroots Uganda)

These partners are flying! Peter and David each used their covid funds to do sanitation work in Jinja. Peter supplied sandals to many of the children at their center and a wash station. 3e009e73-a445-4efd-a82a-2d09cae3f9d9.JPG

334cba64-81ae-4076-b2e7-f0181ef4698e.JPG
986ca89f-2744-4572-acf6-7172de7b0ab9.JPG
d9c8dbb8-54eb-493c-8adb-9779d87d9e0b.JPG
d042f7c8-5ce8-456b-bef0-b2720ae64364.JPG

Here is David’s detailed report – my educator’s heart was so full to see how they put the children in charge of making decisions of where the money should be spent. 
“Grassroots Uganda community library Danida is shared by over 250 children from Soweto, Walukuba, Kikaramoja and Masese slum areas in Jinja city.   One of the biggest problems affecting the people in these areas is poor sanitation and hygiene that has resulted in diseases and deaths.
It’s upon this background that the children carried out the cleaning project to cause awareness and sensitise the community about the dangers of dirty compounds, improper disposal of children’s stool and not slashing their compounds.
A day prior to the activity day,the children held a debate and came up with problem solving tree to combat the most pressing issue within the community,i put the children at the forefront to spearhead a transformation and positive change,thus creating in them a sense of responsibility, feeling the comfort of what they can for the community,and above i wanted them to own the project.

KEY MILESTONES.

  • Over 200 children and youths were involved in this community cleaning project.
  • 16 homesteads were cleaned during this exercise.
  • The day after the cleaning exercise I received over 50 newcomers in the library after the interaction with the children during the exercise.
  • 20 homesteads of the vulnerable elderly and child headed families were reached for soap,sugar and toothbrush distribution.

MAIN OBJECTIVE OF THE PROJECT.

  • To address the UN sustainable development goals such as good health and wellbeing,inclusive quality education,gender equality and clean water and sanitation.
  • To provide a little support to the most vulnerable families especially the elderly and the child headed families ie soap,sugar and toothbrush distribution.
  • To promote cleanliness,good sanitation and personal hygiene.
  • To promote the benefits of having a community library within the community.”

Mukono – Tina/Mariam (Grassroots Uganda)

We don’t have direct contact with Tina in Mukono because she doesn’t have a phone that can use Whatsapp, but Mariam – who oversees much of Grassroots Uganda’s work now – received the funds for Tina. The funds were used to create a handwashing station, soap, and masks. An added bonus of messaging with Mariam was a beautiful update that on that day she just happened to be taking books from the container out to a new library she’d created in Nateete. Look at her car! Love it. 

29eb86ab-86c9-4388-8867-69e398ed455a.JPG


Hope North: Okello Sam

I have the least on-going communication with Okello Sam, a very busy man, so I will reach out to him for an update on how things are going now. The last update was from November: 
“Hope North and the staff have done the best they can in these times — equipping a portion of the students with laptops, and asking them to share among those who live near each other (students were off campus for 5 months); sending curricular materials via WhatsApp to the few students with access to smartphones, who then share with peers in near-by areas, topping up students’ data so they can use these digital resources. These efforts are mostly unpaid; what few resources Hope North has right now are allocated toward technology and data to the dispersed students; and some small amounts toward their upkeep in their respective locations.  Teachers have gone unpaid for more than three months.
Despite this — the senior level students are preparing to sit for exams — even though the Government has provided NO SUPPORT to schools or teachers at this time, and when giving exams itself costs money.  These students are fiercely committed to achieving more for themselves.” 

A Manifesto on Literacy

By Karine Veldhoen and Dr. Susan Crichton

Literacy is the most basic unit of change for the world.  Literate children become meaning makers, critical thinkers, and creative thinkers.  Literate children become changemakers.

Literacy starts at an early age.

Very young children acquire language through conversation with their families and friends. In song and verse children find joy in communication and connection.

You can read to infants too.  Why? Because you are connecting and creating possibilities, introducing patterns, images, sounds, shapes, and relationship.

Gradually the young child begins to recognize that spoken words can take the shape of written language.  Through the complex literacy learning of listening, speaking, reading and writing, children become meaning makers.

Young learners need frequent practice in meaning making along their journey.  As Paulo Freire teaches in Pedagogy of the Oppressed, “Reading is not walking on the words; it’s grasping the soul of them.” Children must have consistent opportunities to explore the meaning of text.

Books are joyful journeys!

Books are the beginning of reading.

Open Books. Open Minds. Open Doors.

Over time, the child learns books are joyful journeys into the imagination, into new realities, and into unknown realms.  They are explorations into the light and shadows of our humanity, with opportunities to learn and grow through the experiences of others.  Books open the breadth of human knowledge, inviting both critical and creative thinking.

Books are a lens.

When we give a child a book, we are empowering her to explore the variety of information available in the world, a sense of personal identity, and an emerging idea of where she belongs within the global context.  As Freire explains, it is “to see the world unveiled.” Seeing is the first step in transforming. Transforming begins as the child discovers new literacies.

If I am literate, then I am empowered and I can think differently.  I can think differently in a process called design thinking. To think well, I need to focus my thinking.  I can question, be empathetic, and human-centered in my approaches to the contextual problems I face.

In an increasingly complicated and interconnected world, there are multiple literacies that children need, but the key to all of them is reading and writing.

A reading culture is a practice of promise.

By investing in the reading culture of challenging contexts and offering access to books, we give children an opportunity to read and write their way in the world.  Reading literacy is a core competency and the beginning of what it means to be a participant in the world, a global citizen.

When we give a child a book, we share with him the culture, history, and foundation of what it means to be human.  Books can become the first independent step in becoming a learner, an active participant, and a capable agent of transformation in the world.  To read is to participate in something bigger; it is a practice of promise.

 

GULU JUVENILE JAIL By: Lori Taetz

GULU JUVENILE JAIL

By Lori Taetz

Trespassing. Stealing. Finding themselves away from parental support. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time. These are some of the reasons the 50 or so young people are residing at the Gulu Remand Home in Uganda.

We arrived at the jail to find approximately 47 young men and 3 young women, between the ages of 13 and 20, sitting side by side on wooden benches. They were in two different classrooms, separated by a wall. The wooden enclosures were unadorned, as the students sat with bare feet touching the concrete ground. A lone chalkboard, much like those used in the 1970s, covered the front partition. There were no books in sight, aside from the few they shared between them with the day’s math. In Uganda, most of the teaching is done by rote, with the students echoing the teachers’ statements. We were privileged to see a small spark of creativity and life as the students welcomed us with a special clap designated to honor visitors. Karine responded with a heartfelt statement of our maternal love for them and concern for their welfare, reminding them of their worth as human beings.

We could not help but notice that all of the occupants wore the same plain green outfits. Apparently, this is the only outfit most of them have with them in this place, despite the fact that they must wear civilian clothes to approach the government officials when they finally find themselves with a court date. In addition, they must come up with the funds to get to the court when they are called, after waiting several months to a year to be heard, even though the system boasts a wait time of 6 weeks.

On approaching the occupants’ living quarters, we felt an immediate dread at the lack of anything that might bring some joy or hope into their drab existence. The rooms were small and dark, devoid of electricity. They were made of concrete from floor to ceiling, and the pervasive smell of urine mixed with dust and grime filled our senses. The bunks were stacked on top of each other, with one dirty blanket on each. In between rooms was a locking door that led to a small, dismal bathroom, consisting of a hole in the ground and a shower stall, whose grimy surface conjured up endless stories of darkness, despair and a thousand bad dreams.

Was there anything we could do to brighten up their lives and bring some sense of hope? Although we came with limited resources, we did have something that could transport them to another place. One full of hope, joy, adventure, friendship and discovery. A chance to learn and gather knowledge for their futures. We brought the blessing of books! Our hope now is that the young teachers at the Gulu juvenile jail will learn to use the books to share both knowledge and enjoyment with their students, giving them something to look forward to each day.