Tuesday , February 11th was the first time that I went to visit the schools. The first weeks have been spent planning and getting to know the organisation. As a social work student, I was thrilled to get to meet the people who we will be working with as part of our internship. Therefore to finally get to see the schools and all the children was very exciting to me. I was even excited to see some other areas other than the inner city of Kampala. It was planned that we first visit the Junior School just to get to see the surroundings and to get introduced to the children for the first time. I think it was a good thing that the children got to know Frida’s and my face before the first counselling with them this week. The children seemed happy to say hello and ask us some questions and then they went back to class.
In the afternoon we took off to the High School where we were having our first counselling session with the theme bonding. I have to say I felt a little nervous before getting there. I have earlier worked with younger kids but I am not as used to dealing with teenagers. Before going to the High School we had heard that the students sometimes are difficult the first time you meet. That they might be timid and reserved. Fortunately, we found the High School students to be very welcoming, friendly and attentive to us which made the nervousness go away. Everybody participated in our planned activities and most of them seemed to enjoy it. The theme for the counselling session was bonding. The children had lots of reflective thoughts and ideas about bonding and so sharing information with each other was a joy. We laughed a lot during the activities and I was very happy that things were working out so well for us during our first interaction.
All in all, the first school visit was very educational for me as many thoughts of self improvement popped up. It was also great fun! I am happy to have met the children and I am looking very much forward to spending more time getting to know and learn from them.
Compiled by: Maja Lindmark, Social Work student at University of Gothenburg-Sweden.
Inmates are at the heart of what we do. Reaching out to them through Bible Studies and Fellowships transforms them; their hope for a better future is restored. We’re able to do this through volunteers, ladies and gentlemen from various churches. Annually, we hold a training for volunteers to inform and guide them about the Prison Ministry. On January 29th, 7 volunteers showed up for the training.
Ellen Eva Ssuubi, Wells of Hope’s Executive Director shared with the participants about how the organization was founded, its overview and it’s interventions. She encouraged the participants to exercise their calling (say reaching out to the needy, teaching the word of God). She urged them to reach out to inmates with love.
She added that Prison Ministry was started basing on the Bible; Isaiah 61:1 (The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners) and Matthew 25:35-36 (For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.)
Pr Mark Kato, Wells of Hope Scripture Union leader shared the importance of exercising God’s calling. He said that it’s an act of obedience to God.
The participants were excited to learn about Wells of Hope and most especially the Prison Ministry. We’re truly grateful to all the participants and their churches for responding to this cause of reaching out to inmates.
Annually, staff at Wells of Hope Junior School and Wells of Hope High School are engaged in a 2-day workshop aimed at empowering and equipping them with more skills as they carry out their tasks. This time around, the capacity building was held from January 24th to 25th, with the theme; Discipline, Academic Excellence for Greater Horizons.
Mr Ssenoga Charles, Wells of Hope High School head teacher facilitated about Effectiveness to Better Performance where he encouraged the rest of the team to always be exemplary to the children
Mr Kayiwa Harounah from Buloba Teachers Primary College facilitated about discipline. He reminded staff that punishments are meant for reformation not deformation.
He encouraged the staff to promote positive attitude against negative attitude within learners; soft, hard, life and organisational skills. “We cannot run after children when we ourselves are not organised,” he said. “You cannot be a good disciplinarian if you’re not a decent deliverer,” he added. He noted that not everything is inborn; he added by saying that staff ought to work on a child’s head, hands, heart (the way they think), the child’s unseen values and practical skills.
Ellen Eva K. Ssuubi, the Executive Director facilitated about the Organization overview. She has encouraged the team to acknowledge godly ways as they carry out their tasks; she’s encouraged the team to be more compassionate.
Stephen Tukahirwa, Wells of Hope Junior School head teacher facilitated about Teachers Code of Conduct. He encouraged the team to be exemplary as they relate with learners (children); he added that children learn faster by what they see others doing.
The staff were also engaged in a very interactive session about communication. They were encouraged to embrace reporting as a way of keeping the public updated of what the schools are up to. The team expressed enthusiasm to use all the communication platforms in their reach to inform the public about the schools.
On 25th, the staff were engaged in sessions about Time Management and Disciplines of Execution; which were facilitated by Purpose Uganda led by Richard Egesa.
Richard defined Time Management as the effective use of time. He encouraged staff to avoid procrastination as they carry on their tasks; “Our lives are our responsibility. The commitments we have were either created or allowed by us. You are powerful enough to decide what you will do or won’t do with your time,” he said.
He shared four disciplines of execution which included;
My internship is soon closing in and the event that I have been longing for the whole internship was coming up, and that was the Christmas party. I had, together with Eric, reached out to friends and family in Sweden for a contribution for the Christmas party because we really wanted it to happen, but the budget was tight for Wells of Hope. We were surprised by the amount of love and support that we received, and we were able to start planning for buying all the children Christmas presents. And to wrap over a hundred gifts really gets you in that Christmas spirit. It was nice to see all the children individually get a Christmas gift, I was overwhelmed with a lot of joy!
The Christmas party took place at our junior school on Saturday but Sharon, Aidah, Eric, Joslyn and I set of for our highschool at Friday afternoon for some quality time with the older children. When we arrived, the children had already made a plan about the night and what they wanted to do. It included a quiz, poems and dancing. Henry did, as usual, an amazing job as commentator and organized the evening. He has impressed me over and over again by his radiance when talking in front of people. We danced a lot and I wish you all could see when they made the staff have a dance battle. Me and Eric went in for it and Eric throwed popcorn to the children like a true Rockstar. My cheeks were hurting after all the laughter that night when we set off for junior school.
On Saturday we started off the day with getting the Christmas tree set up. The children decorated the tree and got glitter all over themselves. It was the first time I saw someone decorating a Christmas tree with balloons and it turned out amazing! I enjoyed seeing the children helping out with all the decorations before the actual Christmas party started. They are so responsible and engaged in everything they do. Some highlights from the Christmas party was when Father Christmas who danced around and throwing candy to the children. They got so excited that it turned in to a smaller chaos of them trying to get the candy. Another thing that made me smile was when the graduates from top class came out with their graduation clothes and they all looked so proud. They had prepared a dance for us and that was the cutest thing I have ever seen! That we celebrate their achievements in this way feels like a key thing and gives the children happy memories from an important milestone in their life.
The Christmas party was a fun day. At mine and Eric’s first day at Wells of Hope we attended the two last days of the Camp David Uganda and that ended with a bonfire at the junior school. This Christmas party was the last time we were going to see the children during our internship, so it felt like a good idea to arrange a bonfire as the final activity. We bought some snacks for the children and arranged so they could listen to some music. Prisca 6 years crawled up in my lap and fell asleep right away, exhausted from all the celebration. And she stayed there until I carried her through the chilly weather to the girl’s dormitory. Before all the girls went to sleep, Rose, the counselor at the school put on music and we all danced together. The girls giggled at my dancing skills but someday I will impress them.
The High School students went home right before the bonfire, and I waved them off. The highlight with them was the Friday activity. Seeing them dance like crazy, laugh and play together truly made me happy. I have a video clip on them dancing and when I watch it, I always start laughing. The last day with the children at the Junior School was Sunday and after the Sunday school service, I spent the rest of the time playing with the kids. One girl that caught my attention at the beginning of this internship was Blessing and we spent the Sunday together.
We played around with the balloons and then Prisca, Blessing and me just sat and watched Eric teach Bernard to play chess.
As you have read, I had a wonderful weekend and it’s hard to put into words. I thank Wells of Hope Ministries for their great work. Seeing the children at school, during counseling and in activities like these; they are always well behaved, kind and taking care of each other. That is a true testimony of the great work Wells of Hope does.
Well, lets start with saying that this was my best weekend in Uganda so far. Our weekend began at the head office where me and Elise met up with Aidah, Sharon and Joseline at 3pm. This was the team that was going to spend the weekend with the children. We traveled to the high school first where we were going to have activities with them. We bought popcorn on the way to the school to have some snacks for the students to enjoy.
The students had prepared a program for us to do together and we had prepared a small quiz for them to do. The program they had planned included dance battles, riddles, dance performances and much more. So even though they night didn’t start as we thought it would, it ended great and I was so happy that night when we went to bed for the time I had got together with the high schools students before they leave for holidays and we leave for Sweden.
We slept at the Junior School and I woke up early and started my morning by following the children to fetch water at the borehole. It’s a 10 min walk from the school; this gave me energy and quality time with the children; and this gave me the opportunity to see what they have to do to get water if the there was no rain for quite a while. But for them it was like nothing, just something that needed to be done, no complaining at all. Just do what you got to do.
After that we had porridge for breakfast which I have been starting to like in some weird way. But the day’s main focus was the Christmas party, finally it was here. So, the rest of the day we helped prepare decorations, blow balloons with the kids, watch the presentations in the church, hand out Christmas gifts and just mingle with everyone we could talk to.
The Christmas party was successful in the way that we even had it. The day ended with the interns saying goodbye to the high school students, which was sad for me. It felt like we were getting closer to them now towards the end. But with plans of coming back I am not that worried. We will meet again. When the high school students left, we had a bonfire with the pupils at the Junior School. We gave them some snacks and just had some music, dancing and a good time before we went to bed.
The Sunday was dedicated from my part to playing with the kids. I was a part of the Sunday service but that was only for a short while. Most of the day I played games with the young kids and I tried to teach Benard, one of the students to play the game of chess. This was fun and I had bought a chessboard that I left at the junior school for them to practice so they can beat me when I visit next time.
All in all, as I said in the beginning, this was the best weekend here in Uganda. I am very happy for my school back home that gave me the opportunity to come to Uganda for my internship and I am also happy for and grateful to Wells of Hope, all staff members at head office, they have been so kind and helpful to us. The staff at the schools, always welcoming when we have come for counselling and all the other activities, and last but not least the children. During this time here I have received so much joy from them; they have been attentive in the counselling sessions and it really felt like they have enjoyed our time here. Soon we are going back to cold rainy Sweden and that will be so sad. I will miss everyone at Wells of Hope. But I will come back to visit, that’s for sure. Because this time here is something I will remember for the rest of my life.
Complied by Eric Jansson, intern at Wells of Hope.