Monday, January 30, 2012

The Bakiga Window: Revisiting Faith

Grace finally gets Faith to smile for the camera!
It’s been a damp and chilly start to the morning and the students have been particularly resistant to the idea of getting out of bed. I suspect that there may have been some late night silliness, but I have no proof of it - after all, students will be students.

It is Friday 15th April and having roused the last of the sleepy students and marched them zombie-like down towards the town, we arrive at the Wise Parents Day Nursery. Accompanying us is Grace Kamusiime who has been working with us for a few days as an unofficial Rukiga translator.

Our visit is to be a fleeting one. We are heading up to the High School and have many things to do prior to this afternoon’s basketball tournament, but it is just enough time to cause chaos that will take the nursery teachers an hour to put right.

The little boys immediately begin to kick a football around in a form the game that most casual observers would say looks more like rugby union. There seem to be no goal posts. There appear to be no teams. If you don’t like what someone is doing you may push him over or pick the ball up. Perhaps the winner is the sole player left standing at the end without a single tear upon his face. It all makes sense to the players and they respond positively to the encouragement of my students.

Amidst the mêlée, and appearing unsighted, comes a small hand tugging at my bag. I turn and look down to see Faith’s sleepy eyes and smiling mouth. Immediately she holds onto my index finger and reprises her role as my sidekick, beating away any other attention that may come my way. She is even suspicious of Grace when she begins to speak to me, but soon relaxes when it becomes clear that Grace isn't trying to steal me!

Aside from the obvious cuteness of Faith finding the funny looking mzungu in the cowboy hat again, the happiness of the children comes as a timely reminder, at the end of our week in Kabale, that our presence is beginning to make a difference. The work of All Our Children in purchasing a new site for this nursery will ensure that the cripplingly high rents at the current site can be avoided. The knock-on effect of this is that fees won't have to be increased and the likes of Faith will be able to continue her nursery education in a time of great financial strain in Uganda.

Saying our goodbyes to the small children is always difficult. Despite their initial fears of the strange outsiders, they quickly become attached and are reluctant to see us depart. With a final wave we leave and Faith, in an incongruous white hooded cardigan, fades into the gloom of a classroom.

To find out more about All Our Children [UK], a charity working in Kabale district Uganda, visit: http://www.allourchildren.org.uk/.

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