For Volunteer Uganda, more volunteers means more schools and, as a result, more opportunity to make a difference to the lives of more children across Kanungu district. With our new group, as well as Kirima Parents, Kazuru and Makiro, we are now able to work with six other schools – Kirima Kindergarten, Kyeijanga Modern, Model, Mothercare,
Rutugunda and Standard Academy.
Look out for blogs on each of these schools over the course of the next few weeks. Today, we begin my visiting Model Primary School.
The Road for Damascus
The road to Damascus, head teacher of Model Primary School, is a steep one.
Model has overlooked Kanungu town since it was founded by Father Christopher Busingye in 2002 and is now home to 340 pupils, 180 of whom are boarders.
As you walk up the hill, past the ironmongery and the interestingly named “Standard Hotel”, Model remains hidden behind false summits. It is only when you are at its entrance that it appears, three rows of buildings sitting like goats clinging on to an impossibly acute angle.
Like Kirima Parents, Model was born out of frustration at a lack of government schools in the area to cater for an ever growing number of children. This is a problem in other areas of Uganda and although Father Busingye has gone on to found other schools in Kabale district to the south west of Kanungu his portrait still sits proudly just outside the headmaster’s office.
Damascus is new to the role, and young for it by any standards. At 24, he took over the running of Model in January having been a teacher there for the previous 4 years. As such, he is not new to the challenges that Model faces and is eager to use his new status to tackle them.
Chief among them is the condition of some of the classrooms. Positioned low on the hill, the P4 and P5 classrooms are cast in shadow for much of the day. The darkness of the blackboard extends to the back of the class, making it difficult for teachers to communicate effectively with their pupils.
This problem is compounded during the saturating storms of rainy season as rain, and occasionally hail, floods through the holes in the walls designed for, but not yet protected by, windows.
These are bizarre novelties for the volunteers who teach there, something to make the best of during their short time at Model. For Damascus they are an everyday worry, something that parents, teachers and the community are looking to him to remedy.
He is driven, and Volunteer Uganda and Inspiring Futures will do everything we can to help him succeed.
Yet, if the road to Damascus is steep, the road for Damascus may be steeper still.