Redearth co-founder Lynne tells us about her first visit to Uganda and how Redearth Education was born…
On my first visit to Uganda I lived in a village with a family and supported the village school. It’s difficult to describe the impact this had on me – overwhelming feeling that the issues the education system faced were enormous – the feeling of being de-skilled and not capable of doing anything that could be useful and later, after much reflection, deciding that this was not the case and that something could be done…hence Redearth Education was born.
My first impression of schools – hundreds of children packed into very poor classroom structures, one teacher, chalk and talk teaching, many children with no books or writing equipment so they sat and listened all day, many children seated on the floor, no furniture. BUT on the plus side – amazing kids, keenness to learn and make the best of their education, a mixture of innocence through lack of interaction with the rest of the world and a worldliness from having to cope with the numerous challenges that children in some other parts of the world cannot imagine – many orphaned, working hard in the fields before and after school, poverty, sickness, high infant mortality, poor nutrition, disease, poor living conditions etc.
I suddenly realised how important international relationships are. I vividly remember one man from the village saying to me. ‘We are so happy you are here – now other people out there know we are here, we are on the map!’ He was absolutely delighted that his village and his village school should have a visitor. Very humbling experience.
First impressions of Uganda – the red roads – the red earth and the children – children everywhere, coming out of the sugar cane, walking to school barefoot along the marram roads, 4 year olds and 15 year olds, all eager and all with such potential.
Uganda is a country (I guess like all others) with wonderful, talented, able, lively, keen children. It has proportionally the highest population of children under the age of 16 in the world. The education system cannot currently provide for the huge potential that is bubbling away BUT it cannot be allowed to be a lost cause – much can be done to improve the system, to help these great kids achieve their potential and eventually lead their country out of poverty. It may sound idealistic but it is nevertheless something to be aimed for.