20,000 Books for Children in Rural Uganda

by enjuba Spelling Bee
20,000 Books for Children in Rural Uganda
20,000 Books for Children in Rural Uganda
20,000 Books for Children in Rural Uganda
20,000 Books for Children in Rural Uganda
20,000 Books for Children in Rural Uganda
20,000 Books for Children in Rural Uganda
20,000 Books for Children in Rural Uganda
20,000 Books for Children in Rural Uganda
20,000 Books for Children in Rural Uganda
20,000 Books for Children in Rural Uganda
20,000 Books for Children in Rural Uganda
20,000 Books for Children in Rural Uganda
20,000 Books for Children in Rural Uganda
20,000 Books for Children in Rural Uganda
20,000 Books for Children in Rural Uganda
20,000 Books for Children in Rural Uganda

Its 7am and we are all trying to beat the morning road traffic to Lungujja, 6km away from the Kampala City Centre. Coming from a long country lockdown with no gatherings, we were all excited to meet the children and parents at Youth Corps Learning Center on the 2nd of October. This time around, it wasn’t just an energetic enjuba team of 6. We were joined by a team from Stanbic Bank Voice Branch who were so enthusiastic about the reading day.

On our arrival, we found a number of children already seated on plastic chairs anxiously waiting on the activities that we had prepared for them. We were wowed by what the children had in stock for us. We were entertained by two groups of children that had a fascinating dance choreography.

After the children showed off their cool dance moves, we then separated the children from the parents and further into small groups. The parents went up to the library building and William Mukisa, one of our staff together with a few members of Stanbic Bank Voice Branch kicked off the parenting session. The session comprised of conversations on how parents can both cultivate strong relationships with their children and create conducive environments for their children’s success. 

The rest of the enjuba team then went ahead to conduct fun-filled reading sessions, the Bingo game and talks with youth that had previously dropped out of school. Within the youth session, they were able to share about their dreams and what steps they would take to achieve them. The enjuba staff supported the youth and affirmed to them that their dreams were valid. In retrospect, the children surely had so much fun that many of them shared with us that they were very excited to read their new storybooks. During this reading day, we found that only 23% of children had ever owned a book of their own leaving about 77% of children who had never owned a book and yet enjoyed reading. This partly explained the excitement that we saw from these children. Thanks to your support. Now all the children own a book.

This was not so different from the reading day we had in one of the urban slums called Katuuso in Bunga. With this particular reading day, we found that 100% of the children had never owned a book of their own and yet enjoyed reading.

These kinds of findings continue to motivate us to reach more children across Uganda to contribute to their journey of falling in love with books so they can learn to read and read to learn eventually. 

 We are forever grateful for your support and love and because of that, we say thank you!

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Off we go to another reading day. It is dawn and the sun is just rising. We are on the road to Jinja, one of the most toured cities in our country, Uganda. Our journey is filled with beautiful sceneries starting from the heart of Jinja town to Bujhagali village, a few kilometers away from the town.

At our arrival to Bujhagali village, all we could see were lit up faces of joyous little children, parents and grandmothers from different villages ready to spend a day with us. As we waited for the others to join, Judith Akello, a Programme Associate at Phoebe Education Fund for Orphans and Vulnerable children (PEFO), showed us around the facilities of the organization. One could not stop to appreciate the fantastic job PEFO had done to develop their community right from the community library to the poultry farm, and to the homes built for vulnerable grandmothers. 

What caught our attention most was how vibrant their community library was. It not only accommodated children of all ages, backgrounds and socio-economic context but also, young youths with interests in computer studies. By the end of our tour, all the stakeholders had arrived to start the event.

With a prayer, we started the first session of the day. Each member of the enjuba team introduced themselves and gave a glimpse of what they were to do that day. Before the breakout sessions, Rodney Ssewanyana who is part of the enjuba team warmed up the children with a little game where they spelt words with their bodies. With oozing excitement, the children quickly ran to the break out sessions that were according to their classes. The parents and grandmothers also gathered together to have a parenting talk with one of the enjuba members.

Within the children breakout sessions, we carried out the spelling bingo and race games as well as read alouds where each child received their own book. It was not hard to see the hope in some of the children’s eyes after receiving their first storybook. This continued to vividly confirm the several responses we received in our baseline survey that none of the children respondents had ever owned a book in their life and yet 100% of the children respondents said that they enjoy reading. 

This was not any different from the 3 other communities; Kakindu, Kasawo and Salaama where we also carried out reading days in the months of April and May. The books were not only given to the children but also to the parents where they received parenting books in their session. The parenting session comprised of talks around building positive parent-child relationships, fronting children’s education as well as supporting them in all ways. However, we couldn’t help but notice the high number of grandmothers in Bujhagali village during the Parenting sessions. We then got to find out that the grandparents were mostly or wholly the care takers of the children; explaining why only 13% of the children respondents shared that they live with both their parents.  

To add to the children’s parents and grandparents’ smiles and hope, over 200 solar lamps were given out to each family in the community of Kasawo, Mityana district by our partner, Let There Be Light International with an effort to allow the children read at night. And because of your generosity, 758 books were given to children and 204 parenting books were given to the parents and grandparents of those communities; for that we thank our donors.

The everlasting smiles on the faces of the children and parents whenever they receive the books and lamps even amidst a global pandemic are what keep us going! 

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This year, we decided to take a community oriented approach to reach children in
the rural areas because of COVID19 induced school closures which continues to
place the majority of children at home, and in most cases not learning at all.

We are working with our last mile partners and have so far visited communities in
Kisindizi, Mubende District; Kabembe and Kisoga in Mukono District.

We started off in Kisindizi Village, Mubende district holding a community reading day
and parents talk. An energised enjuba team of 7 set off from the capital city,
Kampala at 6am to Kisindizi village on the 28th of January. On our arrival, we found 
a number of children with overwhelming smiles on their faces seated on benches
waiting to see what the day had for them. The team went ahead to introduce
themselves to the little ones as well as the parents that had come along. We then
separated the children from the parents and further into small groups according to
their age and class. The program had a lot of fun learning activities for the children
and engaging conversations for the parents. Among the learning activities we had
the Bingo game, Spelling race and finally a Read aloud session. At the end of the
day, each child was given a storybook of their own – to many their very first story
book (82% had never owned a story book), so that they can continue to read at
home and share with their friends.

While all this was going, one of the team members took lead on the parents, talking
with them about how they can nurture meaningful relationships and environments at
home that promote healthy child development and encourage their children to learn.
The parents were also gifted with parenting books (Parenting with Love) and Health
books (Where there is no Doctor).

This was repeated in the following two villages of Kisoga and Kabembe, and
specifically in Kisoga, the children also got a chance to receive solar lamps, thanks
to our partners, Solar Health Uganda and Let There Be Light International.

Through these 3 events we have been able to circulate 356 books to both children
and parents, 200 solar lamps, enabling children and households have access to
books and solar lamps. This has put smiles to children’s faces and given them hope
to for a brighter future.

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It is 6am and we are on the road to beat the traffic. We are heading to Namayumba, just out of Uganda’s capital Kampala, to read with children, chat with parents about parenting and distribute solar lamps – thanks to your generous contributions.

COVID19 and its restrictions continue to bite hard. Transport and gatherings up to 70 people have now been allowed, as long as people follow the ministry of health guidelines. We are expecting to meet a total of 100 households in 4 villages, 25 in each. We have asked the local authorities to mobilize for us, asking each household to send children and at least 1 parent. Schools have just opened for final year students, while the rest of the children stay home, mostly redundant. Efforts for continued learning are impeded by limited access to internet, radio and television as we get to learn, because in this particular community, there is no electricity. 

In all four villages, we found the children and their parents already gathered, waiting eagerly for what their visitors have in store for them. When it was announced that that we had brought some books for the children and solar lamps, they broke out in ululations and could not hide their excitement. We opened our boxes, separated the children from their parents and started our reading sessions. At the end of each session, we donated the books and solar lamps to children, so they can continue to read and enjoy the stories at home, even at night, using their newly acquired solar lamps. The parents on the other side received parenting books (Parenting with Love) and health books (Where there is no Doctor) for their households.

By the time we were done with the third village, we had served 100 households already. So we ended up serving over 150 households with books and 100 with solar lamps, helping the children, most of whom had resorted to just loitering around the village or doing betty jobs with books that they can read and enjoy as they wait for schools to open. Parents expressed their gratitude towards this effort and we hopeful that their children will not lose out completely because of COVID19.

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The world is awash with news about COVID19. 8 million people have been infected and over 400,000 died. In the midst of this crisis, education has been hit most. Over 1billion children world over are at home because schools are closed. The rich has transitioned to online learning, the poor kids are in the farm, or just playing up and about. The COVID19 crisis is exacerbating the problems of education inequality.

By the time the crisis hit Uganda we had just completed a book giving campaign in Eastern Uganda on the borders of Uganda and Kenya. There we continued to confirm the inequality in education. For many of the children, the books we gave them were the first and probably the only books they have ever owned. Lucky enough they went into lockdown with at least a book in hand they can call their own to read. The visit to Namisindwa district also continued to paint a dire picture of how children are learning with several being unable to read and comprehend.

These situations cement our efforts to continue to bridge these learning inequalities and help learners become better.

During the situation when we were on lockdown, to continue to support learning and reading, we shared lots of information relating to how parents can keep their children learning, we conducted a reading challenge and had parents record their children reading, and we shared those videos with others to encourage the culture of reading, and as a reward, we gifted every child who participated in that with a book. Thanks to your continued support.

The lockdown has been eased a bit in Uganda, and with that we would like to continue to support more children with reading. You can help us to get a book to a child. Your tax-deductible gift of $30 gives 10 books to 10 children, and they are able to even share with their friends in the communities where they live.

Thank you very much for your continued help.

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Organization Information

enjuba Spelling Bee

Location: Kampala - Uganda
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @enjuba1
Project Leader:
Aaron Kirunda
Kampala, Uganda
$29,663 raised of $30,000 goal
287 donations
$337 to go
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