Why am I going?
Invisible Children is an organization committed to helping the children of war-torn northern Uganda. A documentary in 2006 featured the tragic conditions of the "night commuting" children who walked into the city of Gulu, Uganda each night to avoid being abducted and forced into life as a child soldier. In the 2+ years since the film, night commuting has stopped because everyone has been forced out of their villages (obstensibly for safety reasons) and live now in IDP camps. Invisible Children is working to improve lives in northern Uganda through jobs and education. During IC's Schools for School's fundraising contest, Westminster (my school) came in 5th in the nation for money raised. Besides $22,000+ going directly to Gulu High school for a building project, ( it had been gutted in rebel/army fighting) one teacher (me) and one student from Westminster were invited to participate in summer programs in Gulu.
What will I be doing?
I'll join a team of 30 U.S. teachers who will be assigned a partnering teacher in a Gulu school. Invisible Children works with ten schools in Gulu, so 2 or 3 of us will be in each of the schools working along side a Ugandan teacher.
What will be the challenges?
"I am a writing teacher. Can I assume there will be paper?" This is one of the first questions I asked. Sadly, the answer I received is "No. Don't assume there will be paper. Supplies vary school to school." I expect that I will learn a lot about how to teach from my new Ugandan friends.
I have been told that teacher training is poor and teacher morale is low. Schools are overcrowded, supplies are lacking, pay is pathetic. In addition, many many kids are orphans or have experienced horrific events in the fighting either as a spectator or as victim or even as child soldiers who were forced to kill or carry out horrific acts of violence.
How can you be praying?
Health. I don't want to get sick. I want to teach and be available to show kindness in whatever small way I can. I intend to be very careful with what I eat and drink, but many friends I know who have been to Africa get sick.
Mental and spiritual strength. Will I be overwhelmed with the sadness, with the enormity of need, the tragedy of these people so broken? I want to be productive and keep my perspective right- that though I can't fix the big problems, hopefully I can bring a little kindness to the few people that I encounter.
Family. I'll miss them terribly and worry about them. Dave is the most supportive man I know, and is more than willing to bear the brunt of family matters ( all three boys are home this summer) . Both of us wish that we could go together, but he is gracious to stay home and do what may be the harder ( and certainly the less glamorous and more mundane job) of parenting.