Ten Years After My Independent Study on Peace Clubs in Western Uganda, God Sends Me Back
25.03.2016 - 25.03.2016 26 °C
So, the first time I went, I was invited by Chrissie Busiinge to come help him evaluate the system of Peace Clubs he had helped create throughout Western Uganda. He understood my desire for Peace Education and wanted to provide me an unique experience in order to explore the topic. Throughout my independent study, I learned about Ugandan's history and the Lutoro people where I was doing research. I students of all ages trying to get a handle on being able to take advantage of going to school as the government guaranteed them free education for up to four children but also trying to maintain the ability to survive through farming and avoiding being recruited by rebel armies from a variety of directions. I met an English teacher who started an NGO to teach students how to recognize UXOs so they could remain safe as well as pleading with international organizations to help them find and disarm them.
At the time, Chrissie worked as head of the Human Rights and Good Governance section, and still maintains strong ties to, the Kabarole Research and Resource Center (See also KRC's Linkedin site,. their Facebook page, International Alert Site and their Hivos site.) Since I spent time in Fort Portal with him, he has created a fund to send students to university in Kampala with his coworkers with the little salary he actually has. He wrote several articles since, but here is one with New Vision.
After learning about Model United Nations while living in Turkey and listening to students try to come up with solutions to problems that, not only my friend Chrissie and KRC were constantly trying to work on, but also my other colleagues from my CONTACT 2005 course, I decided I needed to marry the ideas of MUN and connecting my students to these programs. I just didn't know how to do it. Because MUN is a student run club, it is often difficult to get involved with the shaping of ideas for the young ones. In my experience, I have often seen students become so involved in the debate and prestige of "knowing" more than others that the ability to be open to learning from MUN Directors (teachers) as it is seen as something that should only be up to students ideas. For many years, I sat back with frustration as my friends continued to struggle and I settled on trying to teach students how to be come great leaders, but with a great hope that at least one student each year would remain open to thinking about using the power they have to help others. In some cases, I was truly blessed with thoughtful adult students who have moved on about the earth to do wonderful things.
When I was in China, I jumped at the chance to do CAS (an International Baccalaureate Organization's Diploma Program requirement standing for Creativity, Action and Service which requires students to serve the community.) If I couldn't make connections to Uganda through MUN, then CAS had to be the way. I was very fortunate to start that program but very unfortunate to be moved to another location where CAS was not done well and I could not have anything to do with it. I was unable to work on MUN in a way that provided effective learning for students nor was I able to do CAS so my soul suffered.
This job I have now was unplanned at every step. When I began my job search in 2014, I planned on remaining in Asia somewhere. I love Thailand and wanted to go there. I saw amazing things happening in Malaysia and was interested in going there. However, when I arrived at the Bangkok Job Fair in January 2015, I had received a note from my current Head of Secondary requesting an interview. The Middle East was no longer on my register but Dubai sounded interesting enough. It was an IB school, it was my expertise, there were growing opportunities for CAS-type involvement, a need for an MUN to be created...and having lived in the Middle East before, a sense of familiarity. I took it.
Arriving in Dubai, I decided not to do anymore traveling and try to save money for my retirement, which is lacking. However, it seemed that flights were just so cheap to places. On a whim, I checked for flights to Entebbe and was shocked to find that they were extremely cheap. I felt that God was paving my way to finally making those connections. Realizing now that Uganda isn't the best place to travel with students, my new students seemed technologically savvy enough that I could find ways to make them connected to Uganda. I contacted Chrissie who is working to create a relationship for me with the Red Crescent in Kampala in order to make way for possibilities here in Dubai able to serve his community and the others. I also contacted Aludi John Bosco Komakech whose camp from the movie he showed our Graduate Certificate members during our seminar, Lost Children, I did not get to visit in 2006-2006. I know that, due to the fact that he works for Caritas through the Archdiocese of Gulu, Uganda (i.e. non-Muslim), although they are directly connected to the UNHCR, I won't be able to create the space for help to him as I'd like. (Their FB Page) and their International Peace and Conflict page) Another article with Washington Alliance.
If you have a moment to watch the award winning documentary, please do. Know that it is not easy to watch. More of a Good Friday movie than an Easter Sunday movie.
It was also important for me to go visit him as well as my friend Ngoya John Bosco in Karamoja. This is still up in the air, but I hope to do it.
The great news is that I will be seeing my friend Evalyn Achan and, hopefully, others. These human beings are beautiful and I can't wait to see them again.
In the end, if I can't get the connections I am hoping for, my trip is already successful. I have gathered a lot of gently used clothing for children and adults to take with me, hearts have opened and I get to see my friends in their country once again.