Jan 18, 2018

Thank you

Ugandan team at the African Spelling Bee, Dec 2017
Ugandan team at the African Spelling Bee, Dec 2017

2017 was an exciting and high growth year for us, thank you very very much for choosing to walk this journey with us and to support us with your hard earned money. Because of your generosity:

A Ugandan child (Spelling Bee Champion, 2016) won the African Spelling Bee in Johannesburg in December, drawing a lot of attention, interest and media coverage for our work.

A 10-year-old girl, inspired by what we do, decided to donate her books and those from her friends to a rural school in Lira so the kids there can learn to read. She has even committed to saving more money so she can transport the enjuba team to start a reading club and conduct a spelling bee in this school.

Another 11-year-old girl was so grateful after we conducted a reading event in her school, that she ran up to me, and handed me a 1000-shilling note (27 cents). She said “thank you for reading for us and may God bless you.” This simple expression of gratitude speaks volumes, especially knowing how much she could do with this money.

In many ways, it does not get better than this. Yet we know and are fully aware that we have just started to scratch on the surface of what needs to be done, and we have a lot more work to do in the coming months and years.

2017 was also the year we extended our program to one of the country’s remotest and most vulnerable communities – Karamoja, about 750km out of Kampala. We got overwhelming support from the local government there, and now the Karamoja Parliamentary caucus wants us to extend our program in the entire region.

We launched into publishing, producing our first child written book that was used for spelling bee preparations and we also partnered with an author, and we now have 8 children’s book titles on the market. This new adventure into publishing gets to provide the much needed beautifully illustrated and locally relevant books for children across the country. It also completes our theory of change cycle, crystallising our focus on literacy.

The Ugandan Ministry of Education also, in recognition for our work is moving to include our entire program on the National Schools calendar.

As we start 2018, we are energised to go further and continue to make a difference in the lives of children. We hope to open a children’s reading space as well as work with you to take 10 million books to 10 million kids across the country.

Join us in this effort by buying a book for a child. A gift of $15 will get a book to 5 children, and because they share, the impact will even be greater. You can donate to this campaign here.

I also appeal to you to share this with your family and friends, and to consider making a recurring donation to this work.

Thank you again for your support.

Reading to kids in a school
Reading to kids in a school
Spelling Bee contestants at one of the competition
Spelling Bee contestants at one of the competition

Links:

Sep 28, 2017

You are making a difference...

A blind boy participates in the Spelling Bee
A blind boy participates in the Spelling Bee

Thank you for your continued support, you are making a real difference, not only in the lives of children and their teachers but entire households. Thank you again for making our work possible.

We are on the road again, conducting Regional Spelling Competitions across the country, from North to South, East, West and Central Uganda. We shall be interfacing directly with over 3,000 children and over 1,000 teachers. The 3,000 children are those that emerged as champions in their school Spelling Bees and will be representing their schools at regional competitions. In total, we are conducting 14 events across the country and we have so far finished 4. On Monday we were in Arua, West Nile 480km out of Kampala and we are currently in Gulu, where we just finished a competition and shall be headed to Lira tomorrow.

In the competition today, the Municipal Inspector of Schools came to the event in the morning to give an opening address with intentions of leaving thereafter. However, due to the captivating nature of the competition, she confessed that she failed to leave and stayed on until 5pm in the evening when the event ended, a big testament to how far we have come, thanks to your support.

These spelling competitions shine a light on the state of our education system, and in just two days we have seen a stark difference between supported teachers and schools and unsupported ones. We did not conduct a teacher training for teachers in West Nile region, and as a result the teachers looked disinterested and many of the kids finished the competition without spelling a single word correct. On the contrary in Acholi region, where we conducted our teacher training program, the teachers were very excited and supportive of the learners, the competition was stiff, as all children were able to spell most words correctly. Our teacher trainings focus on emotional intelligence, positive psychology, teacher effectiveness and changing the mindsets of teachers, so they can look at their role as teachers more positively.

Based on testimonies from past years, we know that our Spelling Competitions never leave the kids the same. Many of them gain so much confidence to face anything in life and several others go on to pick a serious interest in reading, which helps them to stay in school longer and puts them in a position where they never fail the same words again. We are excited to continue building on this success to reach and impact even more children.

Talking about reading, this October, we are officially launching a campaign to get one million books to one million kids. This ambitious campaign is intended to get children across the country to fall in love with books, so they can learn to read, this is especially because only 3 of every 10 kids in grade 3-7 are able to read and comprehend and English story. You can participate in this by buying a child a book or supporting an entire school with Books for their School library. Your contribution will directly go towards publishing and distributing locally relevant and relatable books to children. Go here to participate in this. 

Join us on the road and follow all the activities and the fun we are having through our social media channels on twitter and facebook

Thank you

Child Spelling
Child Spelling
Children reading their newly received book prizes
Children reading their newly received book prizes
6 year old Henrica won the local language bee
6 year old Henrica won the local language bee
Jun 30, 2017

Hope is in the air

Training in Lira
Training in Lira

We spent the past month travelling about 5,000 kilometers around the country, engaging with over 1,500 teachers of lower primary, upper primary and in most cases head teachers, thanks to your financial support. We covered topics ranging from personal awareness, life skills and life purpose. We also engaged on what makes a great teacher great before diving deep into our programs, that have expanded to include a writing competition.

At the end of each training – which took about 4-5 hours in district halls or classrooms, offered to us free by the community as part of their contribution, teachers were so happy they came. They said things like, “this was very beneficial to me as a person, thank you for sharing with us;” “I feel inspired and empowered to live a better life and help learners stay in school and achieve their dreams,” and made commitments such as “I will get more engaged in supporting pupils and creating a conducive environment for them to learn better.”

At all the trainings, there was an overwhelming enthusiasm from all teachers who with a lot of energy, loudly shouted that they were the most powerful people in the world. And yes, in some of the trainings the beginning was a bit hard, as teachers wondered why we were focusing on them instead of talking about the Spelling Bee, which was why they came. But at the end, everyone felt that they had a role to play and were ready to play that role back in their schools, to become change agents.

Midway these trainings, we realized we had embarked on creating a movement of positive change that will sweep across Uganda and the World, and now we believe more than ever that we are on track to achieving our vision of having Responsible Citizens, Authentic Leaders and Credible Change Agents at the end of the day.

In these trainings, we also distributed books – training manuals and readers, that were also made possible because of your financial support. The readers are fully illustrated and beautiful, some with children written stories. The stories are relatable and attractive, making children fall in love with books. We are confident that when this happens, children will LEARN to READ and then they will READ to LEARN.

We are now preparing for the District, Regional and National Spelling Bee Competitions that are coming up in September and October. In the meantime, we are working on getting a million books to a million children in Uganda, because we believe that the change we need starts with Reading. Here is a link: https://goo.gl/iXvDHh

Join in, and buy a book (reader) for a child in Uganda at only $2. You can also share this with your network through your social media channels, and on July 12, every recurring donation will be matched 100%, so you can double your impact.

Tweet: Change starts with reading. I have joined the #1millionBooksto1millionKids campaign to get books to Ugandan children. https://goo.gl/iXvDHh

Moses demonstrating a Spelling Bee to teachers
Moses demonstrating a Spelling Bee to teachers
Teachers discussing with each other
Teachers discussing with each other
Aaron conducting a training
Aaron conducting a training

Links:

 
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