April 2017 Kamengo Education Project
Heading to Kamengo on an international practicum with four recently graduated Primary Teachers from University of Ottawa: Erin, Alicia, Merey and Hunter. We thought we were so organized – 11 bins packed with one laptop in each – all weighed to within a pound of the maximum weight, all sealed with cable ties…..then we checked in at Ottawa airport and had to open each bin, retrieve laptop, remove battery, and re-pack all 11 bins. Somewhere I missed the instruction that laptops cannot travel with batteries in check-in luggage! With much patience, we complied, repacked bins (which of course could not now fit original contents), re-sealed and sent them down the conveyor belt – in the hope that they would arrive safely in Entebbe along with us.
Arrived at Entebbe International Airport via Addis Ababa on Ethiopian Airlines early afternoon on Sunday 2nd April after Ottawa – Toronto (1 hr), Toronto to Addis Ababa (13.5 hrs) and Addis to Entebbe (2 hrs). The four teacher candidates have been fundraising for months to raise funds for their trip and for school fees for children and youth of the Agnes Zabali Boys and Girls Club (AZBGC) of Kamengo, Uganda. This was the beginning of a three-week international teaching placement.
Chris, Miiro and Paul were there to greet us with two vans to carry ourselves and our 11 bins of resources to Kamengo. First a stop to change money into Ugandan Shillings (UGX), purchase sim cards and data for our phones and to do some grocery shopping. Then through the very hot, dusty and incredibly congested traffic to navigate our way out of the surroundings of Kampala towards the highway to Kamengo. It was Sunday, it was hot, and it seemed like everyone in Kampala had decided to hit the road. The girls slept in the back of the van as it took nearly two hours to make 54kms.
With resources unpacked and sorted for the planned activities the teachers were able to begin their program on Tuesday – mornings teaching in grades 4 and 5 at St. Anne’s with 40-60 students in the class.
In the afternoons, children from the local community arrive at the AZBGC in increasing numbers for our programmed activities from 4.30pm – 6.45pm.
The four teachers have planned interactive reading, writing, drawing, science, physical education and maths activity stations for each day.
The children (Tuesday we had about 24, Thursday it was more like 60) are becoming increasingly comfortable with working in activity groups and problem solving to construct structures out of straws and playdough (science), make human clocks and shapes on the basketball court (maths), complete puzzles collaboratively, build pictures through successively adding to each other’s illustrations, and learn the recorder.
The recorder is a challenge for the little ones who seem to only be able to generate a cacophony of unrelated sounds. But the older children picked it up well and after a few minutes were playing in tune and in unison.
The children have responded with great enthusiasm to the four teachers’ activities – they are engaged in at least 3 activity stations each afternoon with groups separated by age. There is always one session taking place outside – usually math or science and children are pretty into it. Yesterday the little ones made their own paper watches and showed us them with great pride.