Our time with the Keppler family was spent at St. Paul Primary School in Nkokonjeru, Uganda. St. Paul is about 50 kilometers from Kampala which translates into a 2.5 hour drive on a good day. However, if you leave too late in the day or anytime on a Sunday, your 2.5 hour journey might turn into a 5 hour drive stuck in Kampala's jam (traffic).
When we arrived at St. Paul School we were greeted by a flood of children that surrounded the car. We were escorted through the newly-finished school building, where more children were waiting to perform their welcome songs and dances. They also included a few "field day" activities to showcase their athletic curriculum.
The dancing and songs seemed endless but with the help of the staff I managed to pull each student aside for their pen pal pictures before the sun set.
The next day, Dale gave a lesson on dental hygiene and dental kits were distributed to every child.
Later on, the Kepplers assisted the students in writing their pen pal letters that will be delivered to their partner school, Coyote Ridge Elementary, this fall.
Meanwhile, we had our driver, who also happens to be a plumber, work on installing gutters at the school so they can harvest rainwater on site rather than walking far distances to collect stagnant water from a local well.
After parting ways with the Kepplers and the dear staff at St. Paul, we embarked on an 8 hour bus ride, north to Gulu. Gulu was a welcomed change of pace from the hustle and bustle of Kampala. We woke to crowing roosters, ate meals prepared in mud huts, lived amongst the animals, washed by bucket showers, and concluded our days beside a fire lit in the middle of the compound.
Aside from enjoying the pace of village living, we visited two schools that could both benefit from a partner school in Colorado.
The first school we visited was deep in the bush. A school of only 2 years, there was a lot that could be done. We had to commend the communities involvement to ensure this schools success. We were greeted with welcome songs from the children and parents, then were given a tour of their modest 4 classroom school building that was constructed of bricks that were handmade by the parents.
The second school we visited was on the other side of town, in a remote village. We were very impressed by this schools ability to mobilize the community to start money making projects. They have a micro-loan project to support members of the community in starting small businesses. The director of this school actually used this program to buy chickens for the school to provide eggs for the children and to sell in the market. Their ingenuity was admirable and inspirational.
We came back to Kampala on another 8 hour bus ride, then celebrated Namatovu's birthday with her before heading to the airport to come back home.