Tuesday, March 29, 2011

No Excuses!

How would you get to a sewing class if it were a few miles from your home? What if you didn't have use of your legs? And what if you had a two year-old, and a six-month old baby?

You might be tempted to stay home. But for one of the students in our men's shirt class this summer, these facts were a daily reality. But she didn't use them as an excuse. Every day, she came to class on a boda-boda, a small motorbike that is one of the main forms of transportation in Uganda. Much like a New York City taxi, they can be found on every corner. Each day, someone helped our student onto the back of a boda, handed her the baby, and then put her two year-old into the arms of the boda driver. Our student balanced there all the way to class. When she arrived, a classmate would help her down and carry her baby to the classroom, while she scooted her way to class over the ground.

Once in class, she used one of two hand-crank machines we had on hand - specially chosen to allow our disabled students to participate and learn along with our other class members.

Written by Tara Hawks, Fount's Vocational Development Director

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

All Five Senses

Before my first trip to Uganda in 2008, Lori (FOM's International Development Director) told me that in Uganda she noticed how intensely she used all five senses. It wasn't until landing in Entebbe that I understood what she meant. And... I agreed. In Uganda, I felt deeply, and smelled richly... I saw flashes of color and noticed every new sight. I held orphans and danced with widows. I heard stories. And by using my five senses in such a tremendous way, I grew. Reflecting back on that first trip, I can only be thankful for Lori's words to me before I traveled. I would have missed out had I not been ready to see, hear, touch, smell, and feel.

Written by Rebecca Brown, Director of Communications

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Child Centered Instruction

One of my favorite educational development moments this past year happened while working with two teachers from Care and Share's primary school.

I was sharing with the teachers about the Ministry of Education's new teaching model, moving from 'teacher centered instruction' to 'child centered instruction'. Together, we took a quiz to determine our own learning styles and unique types of intelligences. We found that each of our styles and intelligence's were different.

We discussed, that if I, as the teacher, only taught from my learning style and intelligence that they, as a class, would not be fully engaged. Care and Share's teachers articulated back to me that the only way for all of their students to truly learn is if they teach to each child's learning style and intelligence. We laid down an important foundation that day, one that we will build on together for the next five years.

Written by Michelle Averna
Fount's Executive Director and acting Educational Development Director

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I Have Learned the Most!

"I am the luckiest girl at these camps," Rita told me on the way home from teaching one of our Girls Camp classes.

The classes are designed to combat the dangerous cycle of misinformation about women's bodies in Uganda, myths which can lead to unplanned pregnancies and HIV infection. The goal of the classes is to replace myths with facts, and to create a generation of women who educate and empower each other.

"Why are you so lucky?" I asked Rita, who had served as translator for each of our sessions this year.

"Because I get to learn and teach this information every day, and I have learned the most!" she said.

She was right - while working as translator, Rita had blossomed in her own knowledge of the subject. After a few classes, she even began teaching parts of the camp herself! Seeing her grasp new information and then pass it along to others with such enthusiasm is exactly what Fount of Mercy's Community Health Initiative is all about.

Written by Vanessa Crowley, Fount's Community Health Initiative Director

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Cement Bags, Tools of the Trade

In a country where the income level can be as low as one or two dollars a day, life choices are limited. Sometimes women in our classes don't even have the funds to buy fabric to practice on. But that doesn't stop them.

What do they use instead? Cement bags.

Cement bags are made of multiple layers. Our students pull them apart carefully, then use the layers to draw shapes and cut pieces. Then they sew the pieces together just as if they were standard fabric instead of cement bags.

The resulting garments, perfectly crafted down to the fly and the topstitched pockets, look novel to the Western eye. In fact, recycling the unusual material draws attention to the art of fashion. But for the Ugandan student, they are a vital learning tool: the first material they work with, hands-on - and later a sample they can use to show off their skills to customers.

Written by Tara Hawks, Fount's Vocational Development Director