Feb 9, 2021

2021 is off to a good start!

Best wishes for the new year from our team!
Best wishes for the new year from our team!

Hello there!

It is common in Uganda to wish everyone a happy new year the first time you meet them after the year has started, even when it is months later, so we are just going to do it:

Happy new year to you!!

We hope that your new year has taken off well, despite all circumstances currently, and that it is bringing you hope for the future. For our team, it sure did! Remember the fantastic end-of-year fundraiser towards buying a car for the organization? We may not have reached our goal yet, but we raised more during this campaign than we have before, and we’ll keep going until we get to 100%! Even better news: schools are slowly moving towards reopening. We spent the first month of 2021 preparing for this and working on a couple of new ideas that we want to bring to life this year. How about we update you real quick?

Primary 7 learners & teachers have returned to the classroom after their Christmas break, getting ready for their final examinations that will take place at the end of March. On 1st March, Primary 6 will be allowed to join as well! While we are still putting our teachers workshops on hold as it is hard to bring all of them together, our team is back to doing lesson observations on a regular basis. We are doing our best to guide the teachers through the changing situation and schedules while continuing to teach in an inclusive way. The long stretch of home learning has increased the differences in progress between learners, so we are assisting the teachers at our partner schools in dealing with this.

At the primary teachers colleges we work with, the student teachers in year 2 returned in October last year. From 1st March, the first-year students will come back as well, which means the PTCs will finally be complete again! While we already resumed our workshops with the tutors (= teacher educators) at one of the PTCs in December last year, this will give us a chance to be fully engaged in preparing the next generations of teachers once again. We just cannot wait!

Does that mean COVID-19 has finally left Uganda? Not quite, unfortunately. However, we are all learning to deal with the new ways of keeping ourselves and others safe, while keeping the work going as well as we can. Sometimes, that means having a socially distanced, sanitized and masked day of training with the new cohort of teaching fellows at Teach For Uganda. Other days, it means organizing a webinar for the speed school supervisors and coordinators at Geneva Global.

It also means coming up with entirely new strategies for our own programs, to make sure they can keep running under almost any circumstances. Guess what? We are turning our ‘usual’ training program for partner schools into a distance training program! Videos, work books, you name it & we have brainstormed about it. We will be launching this new approach within the next couple months, so keep an eye on our social media pages to be the first to know.

Speaking of which: Little by Little is coming up in March. From 8-12th, you have a chance to support the development of this distance approach, as GlobalGiving matches all donations up to $50 with 50%. We know this has been one of the most exciting recurring matching campaigns for you, so we would love to invite you to be part of it again this time. You can expect a more detailed update in your inbox soon.

That’s it for now! Thank you for taking the time to get up to speed on what is keeping us busy. Stay safe & healthy!

Much love from Gulu,

The Backup Uganda Team

A tutors workshop at Gulu Core PTC
A tutors workshop at Gulu Core PTC
Lesson observations - a feedback moment
Lesson observations - a feedback moment
Oct 19, 2020

Every Child Can Learn - even during a pandemic

Hi dear friend!

This year never seems to stop coming with changes, does it? Last time we spoke, we had just returned to our office, schools were still closed, and we had a new ‘secret’ idea that we had just announced. Today, schools are starting their first full week of teaching since March, and we have launched a whole podcast! Time to get you up to speed.

Since Thursday 15th October, schools finally reopened for all learners in the final year of each level. For our partner schools, that means the children in Primary 7 and their teachers are back in the classroom. Does that mean our team is getting back to business as usual? Not yet, unfortunately, but we are making progress. We may not be able to bring all teachers together for workshops just yet, but we are definitely offering our support to the teachers who are back on the job, to make sure the P7 learners get all the individualized attention they need. We are finally setting foot on school grounds again starting today, so we will draw up plans with the head teachers for the months ahead in this new situation.

That also means...our trainees are finally getting to the ‘real’ part of their jobs! When Joan and Gertrude were selected in March, they expected to jump right into the daily activities we hold with our partner schools. Little did we all know, they would have to wait until June to begin their traineeship, and until October to start connecting with teachers. Fortunately, we had a surprise project to work on in the meantime.

Every Child Can Learn. That is what we stand for as an organization, why we do our work. And guess what? It’s also the name of our brand new podcast! To make sure we could still connect with parents and other community members without bringing them together physically, we created what we call a ‘community podcast’ about learning difficulties. The episodes are available both online and offline, and in both English and Acoli, to make sure that everyone can listen to them, even from the most basic mobile phone. Thanks to your fantastic support during our Little by Little campaign in September, we have already been able to release 3 episodes, and more are coming up soon. You can find them here: http://www.backupuganda.org/learning/

COVID-19 hasn’t left Uganda yet, just like most parts of the world. We are doing our best to adjust and innovate our projects as much as possible, because we have seen that children with learning difficulties have become extra vulnerable in these new circumstances. Our podcast is an example of this, and we have more coming up… Stay tuned! 

Until then: we will never stop being grateful for your support towards our work. We hope you continue to take good care of yourself and your loved ones. 

Much love from Gulu,

The Backup Uganda Team

Joan in the studio
Joan in the studio
Community podcast - available for every phone!
Community podcast - available for every phone!

Links:

Jul 7, 2020

2020: Flexibility is key

When we can't avoid meeting in person: masks on!
When we can't avoid meeting in person: masks on!

Hi Family!

As we were preparing this update to you and we peeped at our previous one in March, once again we realized how much has changed since then. From no cases of Covid-19 in Uganda, schools being open, and washing hands just to be sure, to hundreds of cases (but fortunately, no deaths so far), schools being closed for the past 3.5 months, and wearing masks full time outside our homes. Although the lockdown in Uganda is being lifted step by step, we are not out of the woods just yet.

We spent almost 2 months working from our homes, missing our new office space at The Innovation Village. Fortunately, regulations were put in place and the building opened up again, so our work days no longer include power cuts, internet data limits and chicken sounds in the background - although the occasional ripe mango dropping on the office roof keeps us on our toes. Our team is well, we are careful & at a distance from each other, but we are glad to be in the same space again.

However, our work days are quite different from what we are used to. With schools still closed and children (and parents) slowly getting used to learning at home, we have made extra efforts to think of ways we can adjust to this situation as well. No matter where children learn, their learning needs will move with them, so we gladly offer our guidance where we can. 

What that looks like on a daily basis? It includes staying in touch with our partner schools, institutions and organizations, holding radio talk shows on learning difficulties (with 7000+ listeners in Northern Uganda - find the recordings here: http://www.backupuganda.org/learning/), working together with other education partners in Gulu and at national level to strengthen each other’s emergency efforts, and designing new, innovative ways to connect with teachers and parents. Within the coming weeks, we will be launching something exciting that will even be helpful across borders, so keep a close eye on our social media pages.

So, are we bored yet? Quite the opposite! In fact, as of mid-June, our team has grown to 5 people, when Frostig trainees Joan and Gertrude finally managed to make their way to Gulu as soon as transport between districts was allowed again. While they are getting familiar with ‘everything Backup’, they are working hard to add their input to all the new steps we are taking. 

With nearly every organization facing challenges in doing their ‘usual’ work and raising funds under these unpredictable circumstances, we are grateful that we have been able to maintain our busy team up to now. Partners like Frostig, private donors like you, and even the very platform you donate to us through have been making this possible. Last week, we were informed that we have been selected to receive a hardship grant from GlobalGiving that will help us continue paying our staff. With more people losing employment and income every day, we couldn’t be happier that we will not need to add to that anytime soon. A heartfelt thank you doesn’t begin to cover it!

If there is one lesson we are learning in the midst of all of this, it is that being flexible is our biggest strength. We hope you can continue to find the flexibility in yourself to handle whatever may be coming at you. None of us know what might happen next. That’s scary, uncomfortable, but also: full of opportunities. 

Much love from Gulu,

The Backup Uganda Team

Welcome Joan & Gertrude!
Welcome Joan & Gertrude!
Backup Uganda on air
Backup Uganda on air
 
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