Saturday, October 11, 2014

One School Directors Recognized in Boulder

Congratulations to One School directors, Bay Roberts and Patty Gilbert, who were honored in the 19th Annual Women Who Light the Community Celebration!

The article below is from Boulder Lifestyles Magazine.  Click on the article to view larger:

Friday, September 26, 2014

A Girl with a Book

A young woman at the Kukanga School.
(Click images to view larger)

Blog post by One School director, Bay Roberts:

Did you know that girls in Sub-Saharan Africa who go to school are:

     •         more likely to enter the work force
     •         earn higher incomes
     •         delay marriage
     •         have fewer children
     •         have lower HIV infection rates
     •         have reduced infant mortality
     •         plan their families
     •         seek an education for their own children?

Girl’s education is the highest-returning social investment in the world.” (Gene Sperling, Director of the Center for Universal Education at the Council on Foreign Relations). Girl’s education not only changes individual lives, but also has the power to change entire communities—and countries. According to USAID:

     •   A 10% increase in girls in school raises a country’s GDP an average of 3%
     •   Girls who stay in school for 7 or more years marry 4 years later and have 2 fewer children

Journalist Nikolas Kristof writes, "Yet we’ve also learned that done right, education changes almost everything. Evidence suggests that educating girls increases productivity, raises health standards, reduces birthrates and undermines extremism. Drones and missiles can fight terrorism, but an even more transformative weapon is a girl with a book, and it’s one that is remarkably cost-effective. For the price of a single Tomahawk cruise missile, it’s possible to build about 20 schools".

What are simple, cost effective interventions that can help Ugandan girls stay in school?

     • Provide new uniforms for their developing bodies.

Girls often drop out of school because they lack a school uniform. Historically, students who do not wear uniforms can be sent home at the discretion of the principal. Girls may solve this problem by finding a "sugar daddy," an older man with money who will pay for her school uniform as long as she has sex with him.  Girls who do this may suffer greatly since older men are more likely to be infected with HIV than younger ones.

     • Provide a way for girls to manage their menstruation.

Imagine telling your menstruating daughter that she must stay home from school because you can not afford to provide her with sanitary pads? This is the sad reality for many Ugandan girls, especially those whose families are living in rural areas on less than $1/day. These girls cannot afford to buy sanitary products and instead resort to using old rags, toilet paper, newspaper, ash, mud and even cow dung. They skip school to avoid embarrassing leaks and stains in public. Some girls just drop out of school completely.

Teacher demonstrates how girls use banana fiber to make a sanitary pad.

     • Provide peer to peer mentoring, educational and emotional support meetings for girls and their parents.

The onset of menstruation puts African girls at educational risk. Negative practices include sexual harassment (even from teachers), withdrawal of economic support from the home and the sudden pressure to marry. Efforts to keep girls in school should include regular support and informational meetings for both older girls and their parents.

     • Provide private girl’s latrines and wash areas at school.

Rural schools in Uganda sometime do not have adequate toilet facilities, especially for girls.

     • Provide clean on site water.

In Africa, girls are expected to collect water. Girls can be subject to assault while collecting water, and they also lose valuable classroom time.  A complete clean water system helps girls while benefitting all the students and community- overall health and sanitation improves.

A typical water collection site in rural Uganda.

How does One School at a Time support girls to stay in school?

     •  165 needy older girls received uniforms at our 4 partner schools (2013). Each uniform cost about $10.
Tailor working on Partner School #4 girl's uniforms.

New uniforms at Partner School #1.

     •  161 needy older girls received re-usable sanitary pads at our 4 partner schools (2013). Each re-usable sanitary pad kit costs about $8.
A parent distributes sanitary pads to students at Partner School #4.

Re-usable sanitary pads at Partner School #1.

     •   Informational meetings with the girls enrolled in the uniform program, their teachers and their parents were held each school term since the uniforms and pads were distributed in 2013. The purpose of these meetings is to provide these girls with information about their changing bodies and to encourage parents to support their daughters to stay in school.
     •   Construction of girls latrine and wash area at Partner School #2 (2012).

New girl's latrine and wash area at Partner School #2.

     •   Construction of simple maintenance-free clean water systems at Partner Schools #1, 2, 3.

Cistern completed!
Support One School at a Time to help more Ugandan girls beat the odds! Your tax deductible donation will pay for re-useable sanitary pad kits for 500 older girls at our 5 partner schools in 2015, and clean water systems at Partner Schools #4 and #5. Donate Now!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Staying with Hussein Tadesse, One School Ugandan Program Manager

Hussein, his wife Afwa, and his five children (youngest to oldest:  Oman, Marshall, Shamsa, Shiaoban, Firdaus)

Blog post by One School board member, Ken Driese, who is in Uganda working with the program staff there (Hussein and Diana). 

I leave Kampala early Sunday morning for a two-week holiday in Namibia before returning to the U.S.  It’s been a whirlwind.  After a week working from the field office in Kassanda (a couple of hours from Kampala—see previous post), we returned to Hussein’s house and have been busy with a series of meetings and activities about One School programs, planning, and philosophy.  I’ve learned a lot from Hussein, Diana, and the very strong Ugandan Board. 

One  School employee, Diana, working in the office at Hussein’s house.

I’m staying with Hussein, in a house that serves as his family home, the One School Kampala office, and guest quarters for those of us that visit from the U.S..  Hussein and his family are remarkable hosts, and I feel guilty about being waited on hand and foot with little recourse!  Even my laundry is cleaned almost daily, which is helpful, since I didn’t bring many clothes. 

Photo taken at the local market, while shopping with Hussein. 

Hussein has five children.  I will undoubtedly butcher the spelling of their names here, so forgive me, Hussein, as you read this!  The eldest (Firdaus) is in boarding school for the term, and won’t return home until late August (summer doesn’t have the same meaning here on the equator as it does in the U.S.).  The next two (Shamsha and Shiaoban) are gone most of the day at school—they leave the house not long after 7 a.m. and don’t return until close to 5.  The other two, Marshall Rosenberg (3) (named after the man who developed the Non-Violent Communication philosophy that Hussein is studying), and Oman (1) (means “peace”) are home, though Marshall would normally be at school during the week—he’s recovering this week from a burn on his wrist.  Hussein’s wife, Afwa, and their live-in helper, Monika, have their hands full with cooking and caring for the kids, not to mention dealing with a house guest.  In many ways, their quiet support on the home front allows Hussein to do all that he does for One School.

Shopping for Firdaus before dropping her at boarding school for the term.

Mornings and evenings are spent with the family or working in my room.  Shiaoban loves to play a version of Chutes and Ladders with me (called snakes and ladders!), and Marshall loves to follow me around and ask questions or push buttons on my watch, as 3-year-olds are wont to do.  He’s very precocious, and I joke with Hussein that someday he will be president.   

In the mornings I drink my coffee under the avocado tree in the backyard while Afwa makes chapati on the charcoal burner and Monika sweeps the yard.   Interesting birds come and go, and sometimes a few chickens cluck around the yard, puckish.  Hussein and Afwa hope to augment the number of chickens drastically (to 300, and it’s not a big yard!) and sell eggs for profit, but that is a future plan. 

Yesterday, while I peacefully sipped my Peet’s, there was an enormous whoosh as a giant branch from the neighbor’s papaya tree spontaneously broke lose and crashed into their yard, sending the resident dog pack into a tizzy; it’s a different environment here on the equator. 

I’ll have a lot to digest and report after I return home and have more time to write and think, and access to the internet here is inconvenient, so I’ll leave those meatier posts for later in the summer.  

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Working at Kassanda

The morning commute, just outside of Kassanda.

Post by One School board member, Ken Driese (writing this!), who is in Uganda visiting partner schools and working with Uganda Program Manager, Hussein Tadesse.  The internet is awkward to access in Uganda, so Ken will post when he gets the chance.  I'd hoped to post more photos with the blog, but the internet is just too slow.  

I’ve been in the field for a week visiting One School partner schools and sleeping at our field office in the small, wild-ish town of Kassanda.  Electricity is on and off even in town, though always on at night, and there isn’t any at the schools, except for small lights powered by solar cells.  Internet is nonexistent (I’m writing this ahead of time in hopes of posting it when I return to Kampala).  At night it seems that most of the electricity in Kassanda is used to power low-fi stereo systems in makeshift bars.  The “movie theater” is a weathered wooden building with a blanket for a door and a large loudspeaker attached to the outside and pointed outwards, presumably to lure you in with the soundtrack of whatever movie is playing. 

The One School field office is a small house on the edge of town, with a separate building for cooking and equipment storage, and a small two-hole outhouse that is literally that, two small rectangular holes in a concrete slab.  Comfortable cots in the bedrooms are draped in mosquito netting, and in the dining room, blue plastic chairs are arranged around a table where we eat rice and beans or beans and rice for dinner, depending on the day.  Breakfast usually includes a chapati and french fries, and always a fried egg and a couple of cups of the Peet’s coffee that I carried from the U.S. in enough quantity to support my habit while I’m here.  The “shower” is a small empty room at the end of the hall leading past the bedrooms, where you fill a washbasin from a yellow plastic jerry can and use a cup to splash yourself with cool water before scrubbing down, rinsing, and drying off.  The water drains through a small hole in the wall into a pipe that disappears beneath the backyard. 

The field routine is simple—wake up between 7 and 8, drink coffee and eat an enormous breakfast, cooked by Pius, who lives at the house and provides security when nobody else is around, or by the cook, Fatuma, who arrived from Kampala a couple of days after we did.  After getting organized for the day, I climb into our hired 4WD car with Hussein, One School’s Uganda program manager, and the other Hussein, our driver, to head out to one of the partner schools in the area.  The drives are on rough, narrow dirt roads busy with minivans (with names like Swaggerific), motorcycles, bikes, and people on foot, all carrying huge loads either lashed to their conveyance or on their heads.   We pass small family farms with fields of corn, potatoes and other starchy vegetables, ramshackle stores, and we drive through water where the road dips down to the level of swamps filled with papyrus where you can sometimes see magnificent crested cranes, which also appear on the Ugandan flag. 

Breakfast at the field office is not to be taken lightly!

One School is now working with five schools scattered about the area within about 10 km of Kassanda:  Kyamulinga, Kukanga, Bbinikila, Kassanda Boarding Primary, and Kassanda Boarding Secondary (this last one is not a full partner yet).  At each school sign the official guest register, meet with the school heads, teachers, and sometimes with board members, tour the grounds, and ask questions about the projects that the schools have initiated.

The students sneak looks from their classrooms at the muzungu (white person, charitably speaking) in their midst, or if they are between classes or on break, try to get a better look without getting TOO close.  My digital camera is a temptation, and soon they gather around, laughing at the apparently hilarious pictures of themselves in the LCD screen.  

It’s the kids that make it the most fun to be in the field, and of course they are the reason that One School at a Time is here. 

Two girls at the Kukanga School.