Volunteer Uganda will be working with three primary schools over the next three months – Kazuru, Kirima Parents and Makiro.
In the first part of our look at VU’s partner schools we visit the one closest to the Volunteer Uganda lodge, Kazuru primary.
Volunteer Uganda is very proud of the close links it has forged with Kazuru, the nearest village to the VU lodge. We are, simultaneously, welcome guests and old friends of the community.
This is reflected in our relationship with Kazuru primary school. The faces of the volunteers who teach there may change but the impression that they leave will stay at the school long after they return home.
Kazuru primary sits on a plateau overlooking Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. It is the only school can volunteers can walk to; a short, undulating stroll that only takes about half an hour but a journey that teaches volunteers everything they need to know about the importance of VU’s mission to improve the provision of education.
Walking past the tea and coffee plantations, a full set of farmyard animals and the bands of curious, friendly eyes which look up from cultivating the land to greet you it is immediately clear that this is a community that relies on subsistence farming.
That means children helping their family by tending to animals and crops instead of attending school.
Some mornings, with a call of “tugyende” – “let’s go” in the local dialect Rukiga – pupils will follow volunteers on the path up to the school. Other mornings the same call is met with a shake of the head.
The school, which has around 250 pupils on its roll, suffers from absenteeism and some days only 150 or so will make it to classes. This is, of course, not the same kind of lazy absenteeism that schools in the developed world suffer from. It is entirely understandable and reasonable, so much so that absenteeism seems like too harsh a word to describe it.
While our volunteers and welcome guests of the school, Shanika, Craig and Staci, do their best to improve the education in the classes over the next ten weeks, it is VU’s task as an old friend to engage with the local community and elders in hope of getting more children to swap the panga for a pencil.
This will have the long lasting impact that lies at the heart of Volunteer Uganda’s ethos and Kazuru Primary’s own motto: “education is the key to success”
I will post the volunteers’ own account of their Kazuru experience at the end of their placement. For now I think this little Ode to Kazuru, written by previous volunteers Ro, Nat and Natalie, sums it up nicely.
The remote little school,
that sits on a hill.
With bright smiling faces,
curious at the window sill.
Musical voices for miles around,
wonderful children, friendly and proud.
Kazuru Primary School,
it’s been a pleasure.
The memories we have,
will last forever.