Sunday, March 9, 2014

Week 53

 (Pam) Dogs in the Compound
Last week some people moved into the compound bringing two larger dogs with them.  Lelah and Tucker are very sweet, but  I was a little concerned how they and Big Momma (our adopted stray cat) would get along.  Initially the dogs would come down and eat Momma’s food off our porch.  I moved the food inside.  The dogs would nonchalantly walk inside and eat her food.  However, nature took care of things in its own way.  After a day or so Big Momma got over her trepidation of the dogs.  Since then each time they have ventured down, we would hear whining and yelping.  That’s happened five or six times.  The dogs have now learned to stay away from her territory.  So now we have chickens, a cat and two dogs that peacefully co-habit our compound.  And the compound’s  mice (we have none)  are on the verge of extinction due to Big Momma’s prowess.  I understand why a cat is the king of the jungle.  They can handle both the big and the small problems. 

(Pam) Schools in Gulu
Ugandan children old and young understand it is a great blessing to be able to go to school.  In most instances they are happy to go and enjoy learning.  It’s heartwarming walking by some of the primary schools hearing the chants and songs between teacher and pupils. 

Unfortunately  for many school is not possible because of fees,  uniforms, and other expenses.   Those fees in our area range from 80,000 ($32) to 400,000 shillings a term, plus exam fees.  While that doesn’t sound expensive, for the vast majority who are unemployed or receiving below subsistence wages, the costs are insurmountable .  Fortunately, a small percentage of schools and students are assisted by NGOs and other non-profit organizations.

One of our branch leaders is pleased that at her  9 yr old son’s  public primary school has only only 80 students in the  class, compared to the 150+ in most classes.  She said the school is excellent, and since her son is a bright boy, he generally goes to school one hour early (7:00) and stays until 6:00.  On a first come/first serve basis many of the better public schools will allow a small number of students to participate in this additional learning time. 

Most of the public schools do not have books for their students.  The teacher may have the only book on a given subject.  Private schools have more, often a book shared by five students  or the students buy their own books.  Books here are more expensive than in the states, probably because of the shipping costs.  Nearly all teaching is via rote.  The teacher reads something from his/her book and then has the students repeat it back several times.  They also do this with all writings on the board.    

Because teacher’s wages are low with little direct accountability, they frequently do not show for school or they may leave several hours early, but since schools  give the state-monitored  term/year-end exams, the teachers often require the students to attend on Saturday.  I have heard this is against the law, but it happens all the time.  Students also are often required to attend special prep classes on weekends to prepare them for the state-based exams. 

When a child reaches Primary 7 (sixth grade equivalent), he/she is often sent to a boarding school, which may be local or in another city.  Boarding schools take more than 50% of our senior level church youth.  (You may recall last week we about one of our former Relief Society presidents, a single mom with four girls, who cooks every day for a local boarding school and makes 70,000 shillings or $28 a month.)  Students in boarding schools are not allowed to leave school at any time, including Sundays for worship, until the term ends and everyone has a “holiday” for a month or so.  In the better boarding schools, which are all competing for top university placings, the students have study classes til midnight and are up at 4 or 4:30am for more mentoring  with the teachers.  If a student falls asleep they are “caned”.  Students are used to the rigorous schedule and are able to manage on little sleep.  I’m sure it also helps keep them out of trouble! 

Due to the challenging circumstances, most students do NOT  graduate from high school.  S4 (10th grade) is considered a very good achievement.  Most are in their 20s when they complete this.  Only a few – at least in Northern Uganda – are able to complete Senior level 6. Of course to get the certificate all fees must be paid in total.  One of Ugandan missionaries  we sent out owed over 800,000 shillings in back exam fees that needed to be paid to get his S6 certification. 

This past week was especially challenging for many students in Gulu.  Students are allowed to attend for a week or two without paying their fees, but on Friday all who hadn’t were booted out.  The children are very tearful about this often demanding that their parents find a way to come up with the money.  This scenario is so pervasive that there is no way the church or missionaries can help with those needing money for school fees, but we were informed about  this situation with one of our leaders so we stopped by to offer her moral support.  It turned out she AND her 17 year old daughter  had both made purse bags and scripture bags by hand and had done an excellent job.  I told the daughter that instead of expecting her older widowed mother to provide everything for her, she could assist by making more of these bags and selling them.  I told her that (contrary to what they perceive about all Americans being rich and lazy) all of our children had jobs and worked hard besides going to school and it would benefit the whole family if she worked hard  during the next week to help get the needed money.  I told mother and daughter I would provide the materials, deducting the cost from their profit and would buy the first 8 bags for family members back in the states.  That would not give them all the money they needed, but enough to get them back in school for a few weeks while the mother continued to make and sell the bags.  The mother thought it was a great idea and began sewing as soon as I brought her the cut out bags.   The daughter reacted as many teenagers in the states – not THAT interested – especially if mom would do it all for her!  I don’t think that will remain the case.  This is a good young woman who will step up to the plate to do her part.      

I’m proud of the Ugandan students who do work very hard.  Their buildings and their materials are far below what we have in America, but their determination far exceeds that of most American students.  We can learn a lot from their unwavering willpower to succeed. 

An interesting thing is that those who completed S6, the highest level of high school, are required to wait a full year before they can enter a university program.  The students’ university level field of study is chosen by the government, based on the student’s  test scores.
The link below in honor of my longest running best friend and cuz Julian MacQueen, Founder and CEO of Innisfree Hotels based in Gulf Breeze, FL.  Next time you are booking a room on Pensacola Beach, remember this article and support those who support high moral standards.  All 3 of my sons have worked for Julian...Brooks, who promised never to leave Dallas couldn't pass up the opportunity to be Julian's CFO.  Wyatt who worked in new hotel/condo construction development, promised never to leave the beach but lives in Dallas now and Lawrence who molded new hotel guests like puddy in his hands at the front desk of the Hilton, never promised to live in any one place more than 12 months and has bounced from Columbus, OH, to VA to AK, to Russian to Dallas to Houston and now to WY in the last 3 years.  

Cut and paste the link if you need to.
 Young Single Adults at Family Home Evening...I don't know what game they are playing but cards is a real past time over here among the unemployed...which is most of the population.
 Big push to get this procedure done in the belief it will prevent, reduce HIV spread.  The only thing that will do that is living the law of chastity  It's really all quite simple.  Most people hacking at the leaves trying to find solutions to our social problems when the solutions are very, very simple and right in front of us.
Pam has taught the older sisters and the youth girls how to hand sew purse/bags and scripture bags.
One sister made 4 of these in about that many days and already sold 2 of them for just under 20,000 shillings a piece helping her to become self-reliant.  Equally important, the money she is making is being saved to go to the temple in Johannesburg, South Africa.  She will never make enough for that trip but after she has done all she can do, the Church will assist with the remaining expense.

After months of waiting we were finally able to get our facilities management folks in Kampala to install a real volley ball standard in our Bardege Chapel parking lot.  The young singles play nearly every Monday night for family home evening.  Occasionally the American missionaries join in and really put on a show.


This shot dedicated to son Wyatt...Ole Blue doing well in Uganda.  Sugar cane off to the market.



President Joseph F. Smith explained: “It is true I am weak enough to weep at the death of my friends and kindred. I may shed tears when I see the grief of others. I have sympathy in my soul for the children of men. I can weep with them when they weep; I can rejoice with them when they rejoice; but I have no cause to mourn, nor to be sad because death comes into the world. … All fear of this death has been removed from the Latter-day Saints. They have no dread of the temporal death, because they know that as death came upon them by the transgression of Adam, so by the righteousness of Jesus Christ shall life come unto them, and though they die they shall live again. Possessing this knowledge, they have joy even in death, for they know that they shall rise again and shall meet again beyond the grave” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1899, 70).

Elder D Todd Christofferson
The Moral Force of Women continued....

There has long been a cultural double standard that expected women to be sexually circumspect while excusing male immorality. The unfairness of such a double standard is obvious, and it has been justifiably criticized and rejected. In that rejection, one would have hoped that men would rise to the higher, single standard, but just the opposite has occurred—women and girls are now encouraged to be as promiscuous as the double standard expected men to be. Where once women’s higher standards demanded commitment and responsibility from men, we now have sexual relations without conscience, fatherless families, and growing poverty. Equal-opportunity promiscuity simply robs women of their moral influence and degrades all of society.9 In this hollow bargain, it is men who are “liberated” and women and children who suffer most.

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