*Author’s note: I wrote this on Saturday, November 17, but am only just getting around to posting it. Keep that in mind while reading my timeline and events.
I have been having a difficult time transitioning my programs to the Ugandan leaders. Part of this has to do with my lack of experience with such a big and important task. It also has to do with the denial that many of my co-workers and kids have about my impending departure. Mostly time is slipping away too fast for me to manage. School ends on Monday and most of our children will go back to their homes/villages until February. That gives me approximately one day to finish evaluations, transitions, and spilling of my love to these kids.
It also means my role with the peer-health education program is ending. This is why I was so upset to wake up to a text this morning from one of the teachers that co-facilitates the program. He informed me that no children would come today because they have been given the day off by Headmaster. Honestly, my first thought was, “Awww, Shit.” I knew that today was my last chance to meet with the whole group—like, ever.
We chose new members this week to replace the leaving P-7s and today was intended to be a surprise celebration/welcome party. I was worried that half the kids would listen to the closure notice; I also worried half would still show up and not find me there. To resolve this, Amelia and I put a note on the board informing all of the change of plans.
I know it is ridiculous and possibly immature, but I felt extremely sad and disappointed by the cancelled party. My love for those kids runs deep and I can already feel a broken heart coming on when I leave. I was very selfishly depending on today to spend more time with “my kids.”
As it turned out, I am not the only one with an emotional attachment. At exactly 2:00 (the time of the class) one of my P-6 boys shows up to my apartment and says, “Just saw the sign. Sorry it is cancelled today, but I wanted to see you to say hello.” We chatted for a few minutes and he went home. Then around 2:30, three more boys came to my apartment and say the same thing, “We are sad not to meet today, but we wanted first to greet you.” Amelia and I sat on my veranda with them and were able to talk and share some laughs. By the time 3:00 rolled in, I saw six more boys round the gate of my apartment and at that point, it was all I could do to hold tears back. These boys informed me that they had seen three of the new female members leaving the classroom when they arrived.
[Our total number of kids who came to the “cancelled” C2C is at 13 out of 22]
I could not let these guys get away without some fun, so we took photos, played games, and of course I gave them biscuits (cookies)!
Many of these children live in the orphan’s home and on Saturdays Amelia and I go there to check on them. We decided to leave for the house earlier than we had planned so we could walk with the kids.
|Amelia and I decided to help carry firewood back to the House|
On our way, we bumped into two very disappointed girls from my class who were walking back to the house after reading my sign.
[15 of 22]
As always, the home was a lot of fun. I was sure to get a photo of us with all the kids at the house. I am almost certain that will be the last time all of them are there until next February, since many go visit family during school holiday.
On the way back to our apartments, we ran into the first boy that visited me today and another boy from my class who said he and his sister both came but left when they saw the sign.
[For a grand total: 17 of 22…not a bad attendance rate for a cancelled class.]
Amelia made a fantastic observation that their dedication to show up even when they had been told otherwise speaks well for the program.
The children would never know it, but their dedication to the program, motivation to learn, and display of love for me have given me the push I needed to continue doing what I can, when I can despite a rocky transition and close deadlines. Clearly, I am doing something right by these kids; sometimes that is all we can ask for.