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Oct 2, 2018

AJS Competes in Regional & National Music Competitions

Some say that it takes a village to accomplish many great things, and in the case of the Arlington Junior School pupils, the saying rings both literally and metaphorically true. In late August, schools from around the region convened at Bududa Secondary School for the regional singing competition. AJS earned a spot at regionals by placing first in the zone, sub-county, and district level competitions.  

This year, both the pupils and the staff exhibited an extra level of passion and commitment. Music supervisor Teacher Edith led the weeks of training before the competitions and recruited some of the best trainers the district had to offer. Teacher Diana led the kids in drama, poetry, and storytelling; Teacher Frank who had previously trained the first place regional winners for three years running also shared his skills as did Teacher Wellbon, a civil engineer with an infectious passion for the arts who has trained students to reach nationals for four years running! During the rehearsals, Teacher Wellbon could be seen swinging his arms as he directed the singers and instrumentalists to one of the most memorable performances of the competition. 

Over two days at regionals, students engaged in singing, dancing, acting, poetry recitations, and instrument playing.  Their weeks of training saw them emerging with a second place win! Their scores across all the categories qualified them for the national competition.  Given their fifth place placement in last year’s regionals, theirs is an amazing accomplishment.

The community trooped out to offer the students support including Head Teacher Sarah, Teacher Amos, and others. “We are confident in their capacity,” one of the teachers said. Well predicted, indeed. As the students then took a rest and soaked in their well-earned win, the staff had their minds on nationals. Of it, Teacher Wellbon says, “We cannot underestimate other schools. They are preparing, but we are preparing.” Call it a victor’s joy, but the pupils were more optimistic. “We are going to smash the competition!” many of them repeated, gleaming. 

And smash it they did!  After a hectic ten-day finale at nationals, AJS returned with tenth place, a step up from their fourteenth place position last year! AAH Program Director Milton Kamoti congratulated the team and thanked everyone for their efforts and contributions, stating that the efforts to give the students access to better trainers paid off. Teacher Edith also expressed joy at the outcome and gratitude to all the hardworking students who are now headed home to enjoy the term holidays.

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Jul 3, 2018

Financial Independence for Jennipher

Jennipher (center) with two visitors in Uganda
Jennipher (center) with two visitors in Uganda

In addition to empowering youth in rural Uganda, AAH gave a natural humanitarian the financial independence she desperately needed.

As Jennipher, the AAH Guest House Manager, reflects on her time with AAH, (ten years in 2018), she sits on the arm of a couch, smiling. Throughout the conversation, it is obvious why she is such a good fit for the organization. Every time the subject of children comes up, either hers or the many she taught while she worked at the Sunday school in a Bududa church, her face transforms immediately. Her teeth show, her pitch elevates and when she says “I like children and children love me”, it is with total honesty and love. She talks about spending some of her pocket money to buy sweets for the children she used to teach.

Not long after she was contracted by AAH for domestic work, she took up managing the guesthouses unofficially until the position was offered to her. She constantly remarks on the ways working at AAH has changed her life, particularly with giving her the financial independence she needed. Since earning a salary from the organization, she has been able to build her own house and send her children to school two boys one of which is in secondary school four, and the other who works as a mechanic.

For anyone interested in becoming involved, she encourages them to take a trip to Bududa and see “with their own eyes” the good work the organization has been consistently doing.

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Apr 13, 2018

The Need for Light

7th graders at Matuwa with their flashlights
7th graders at Matuwa with their flashlights

As a fourth grade teacher at Tuckahoe Elementary School in Arlington, VA, I was first made aware of Arlington Academy of Hope by way of our mutual affiliation with Matuwa Primary School in Uganda. After learning more about AAH’s righteous intentions – their goal to improve the quality of life in rural Uganda and to transform poor villages into self-sustaining communities – I was compelled to become more actively involved in their cause. Their focus on schooling, healthcare, local development, and community outreach perfectly align with my own core values of education and empowerment. 

After visiting Matuwa, I was deeply moved by the culture of a people who present the world with great hope despite their many struggles. One pressing need quickly stood out in my mind: the need for light. Despite how frequently it is taken for granted in more developed nations, light is often denied to these students as a result of the lack of accessibility to electricity in most villages. The rainy season brings overcast skies and darker days, and standard electricity is not available in many of the districts our sister schools are housed. This limits working hours both inside and outside the classroom. Tuckahoe helped Matuwa install solar panels last year, and the positive impact was immediate and constructive. A seemingly trivial thing, light, had completely transformed a school. 

I set out to find a light source that would be appropriate for use in sub-Saharan, agrarian Africa. I reached out to Bigfoot Outdoors, an American company specializing in reliable adventure and survival products and secured a generous donation of 500 flashlights to send to our students at Matuwa Primary. The waterproof flashlights run on solar power and hand-crank capabilities, making them perfect for use in Bupoto.

Students can now read, study, and complete work without relying solely on the sun’s hours. These flashlights help eliminate the need for kerosene lamps, whose fumes are dangerous and costly. These portable light sources will make everyday tasks easier for the families who received one. It is a simple yet effective way to improve the living conditions of 500 families.

Boniface using his flashlight for homework
Boniface using his flashlight for homework
Jared charging his flashlight on his home
Jared charging his flashlight on his home's roof

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