Friday, March 30, 2012

Art & Dance

Uganda has stolen my heart, again.

When I talked to Tara Hawks about what I could do with Fount of Mercy upon my return to Uganda we both decided that an Art Camp would be a cool thing to do. I have a background in dance and theatre, and I also absolutely love working with children, so we decided to give it a try. I have to admit that I was pretty nervous going into it.

I was there for a month and had 3 different groups of children. The first 2 groups were kids from villages that ranged from about 5 to 12 years old. The last week of camp I had a group of deaf kids that were 16 to 22 years old.

At camp we talked about shapes, the kids did self-portraits (that were awesome), they painted with watercolors, played musical chairs, learned 2 choreographed dances, did a lot of silly, fun, creative dances with brightly colored scarves, played human tug of war, played with a parachute, sang songs, had sack races...and ate lots of bananas. It was chaotic and fun. Sometimes we lost electricity and I was unable to use my music and stick to my we improvised...and I think the kids had an even better time when we did that.

Children in Uganda that are fortunate enough to go to school work really hard. They are in school much longer than American kids. They don't have recess or gym class. They don't have art class or fun electives. They are not really encouraged to think critically or creatively. It was usually on the second day of camp that I saw the children start to open up and really start to be free with their own creativity. Once they were comfortable, it flowed out of them. It was amazing to see. They just needed a little push.

I love how art has its own language. It didn't matter that some of the children were deaf. Or that some of the children spoke only Lusoga. We could all communicate when we were dancing and painting. Art was the bridge that connected us all.

On the last day of camp a nine year old girl named Glorio hugged me and said,

"This has been my pleasure."

My eyes filled with tears, because she'll never know that really...the pleasure was all mine.

Written by: Liza Morgan

Monday, March 19, 2012

Pad Research Project: Intern Katie Korpi

Back in November, you may remember that we introduced you to one of our interns Katie Korpi. This week, Katie has written a lovely paragraph about the work she did while in Uganda.

"My name is Katie Korpi and I was lucky enough to intern with Fount of Mercy this past year. I researched and developed The Pad Project, which examines the demand for feminine hygiene and what the best culturally feasible solution is. This project was developed from the Community Health Initiative, which Fount had already set into motion to teach adolescent girls about different health topics, including menstruation. Through extensive research, I quickly came to realize that investment in girls and women can have a major impact on economic growth and the health and well-being of communities. By distributing a product to give girls and women a chance at opportunity, I truly believe that this investment can make a significant difference for families and communities in Uganda. Fount has an amazing network of employees and supporters with a common goal and I am so thankful to be able to channel some of my conviction and try my best to help nurture rural adolescent girls so that they can transform their homes, communities, and countries. "
- Katie

Thanks so much for your incredible work Katie... we value the effort you put in to your time in Uganda and look forward to the important work you'll continue to do with Fount of Mercy!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

African Time

One of the biggest differences you'll come across when working in Africa is the keeping of time. While westerners are used to going through their days structured by a series of scheduled time tables, the same cannot largely be said for our African counterparts. Time and schedules here have a much more laissez faire feel, and a laid back approach to life negates the need to rush much of anything.

The result of this is a lot of waiting, waiting, waiting.

Surely there's a reason for this seeming lack of punctuality? Of course there is! Uganda is a place where social constructs take precedence over things like appointment times and rigid schedules. This, combined with a different way of prioritizing events and people, both expected and unexpected, is what in large part makes up the inner workings of African time. Say you're on your way to an appointment and you meet a friend along the way. It would be rude and socially unacceptable to just rush past without saying hello. Therefore the necessary time needed to go through the social motions is taken, regardless of whether it will make you late for your appointment or not.

This different approach to time takes a bit of getting used to, but once understood, you'll be keeping time like an African before you know it!

Written by Sarah Pietruszka
Vocational Development Intern

Monday, March 5, 2012

Emolu Francis - Educational Development Program Assistant

Friends... please take a moment to be introduced to our friend Emolu Francis. =) Francis started working for us in November 2011 as our Educational Development Program Associate.

In a nutshell, Francis trains teachers to use the Ugandan curriculum. Generally, he trains them to be more effective in the classroom and training school management committees, made up by community members, to oversee their school. This work is important to our vision and our advancement of our Educational Development Program.

Just before Francis started working with us, he earned his grade five certification. This makes him qualified to teach secondary students as well as primary - way to go Francis! Also, a "fun fact" about Francis is that he really likes to bake and, at one point, he even held a job as a baker.

Francis is doing incredible work with us ... he is a wonderful teacher! He is passionate about education and about giving children the opportunity to learn. And for that, we are thankful for him ... and his heart.

With thanks,
Fount of Mercy