Posted by Shrop
It’s been good to be back in Gulu, Uganda. The weather has been good, the food is good and people are welcoming me everywhere I go. Usually when I first get here I have to start many things over and that takes a lot of time, and then by the time I get the schedule going it’s time to leave.
This time has been different, though. I was able to immediately start when I arrived. Things are working out very well for us. I am teaching almost 1,000 children in 4 different locations and am training 17 student teachers who are attending teachers’ college. I teach them both music and SMF teaching skills. And then I have training with our SMF Youth Volunteers every day,
The SMF Youth Volunteers have been a big help in teaching the kids. We write lesson plans together, we prepare together, we teach the class together, and this way it’s a lot more fun for the kids and for me. I am working hard to get them ready so when I leave they will continue classes in the locations that are close enough that they can travel to.
Transportation is a big problem for us–when I am not in Gulu, it is extremely difficult for the volunteers to go and teach at Pabo (about 80 minutes drive from Gulu) or the Bakhita school (about 20 minutes drive from Gulu). The children in the Pabo area have suffered some of the worst after-effects of the war, and the Bakhita school is where the children who were born to child soldiers are attending, so these children are very important to us and we want to give them our program year-round. But I have been meeting with the music teachers in both of these locations and training them privately, and I will be leaving enough materials for them to continue until we will be able to come back. These music teachers are working very hard to accomplish more while I am here so they will be ready to teach using our instruments.
It’s really been great for me to see all of these people getting involved in helping their community get organized and amazing to see how much they appreciate music in their culture. Many of them have been telling me that nothing has healed their trauma as much as Music, and that’s why they still continue to use Music for healing and make music a big part of their life. A head teacher at Pabo told me that what we bring to those kids is a big smile in their face and also a lot of songs to keep them busy so they don’t have to think about their poverty or their parents struggling. Me being from Kosovo, I can totally relate to all of this because we had to go through the same things. I believe in the power of these songs because they have worked for me and they have worked for thousands of children in Kosovo, and they are working here in Uganda too. I am very happy to be part of this.