The first day I came to the new site with Freda, I dove right in with a group of 4 sisters, whose mother is in the hospital. They greet us down the path, before we even get to the actual site and hold our hands while walking back. They LOVE English lessons in the mornings, before the other children come for weaving and games. They are so eager to learn, it amazes me. They rewrite and perfect every word or sentence, even if I gave them a check mark and told them not to forget their “full stops” (periods) next time. When I offered them a break they said “teacher, there are still pages left” and held up their little paper notebooks. So I continued giving them little mini-spelling tests and doing corrections with them until their pages were full.
By then, I was the one who needed a break. And they still asked me for the lesson book and told me they wanted to go through it aloud. So I held up the exercises and the girls took turns. I told them how smart (clever) they are and they loved the one-on-one attention. It’s a totally different learning environment from the crowding at their school and they really appreciated the time I gave them. They really are very bright and beautiful and I loved them after the first day.
I’m considering staying at the new site through next week. I had planned on going on to an HIV education project with Cherryl, but now I’m finding myself more and more attached to helping these students and giving them all the tutoring I can while I’m still here. They do have Freda either way though, so I guess we will see.
As I mentioned before, Jospehine lives at the site with her own children and also shelters others in need. The 4 sisters have just arrived at her home recently and there used to be two different sisters.
About a month ago she took in two muslim girls who were more or less homeless. It’s said that the older sister, at 15 years old, was about to be married off by her older brother until Josephine went to find the girls and invite them to live with her. Unfortunately, a different brother showed up last week at the new site, telling Freda that he had to take both sisters with him, because they were visiting an ailing relative up in Northern Uganda. Josephine and Freda both spoke with him and questioned his actual motives, and whether both girls will actually be back. Especially considering how he wasn’t going to be the one taking them, but someone else was.
When a couple marries, it is the man’s family who is responsible for giving lots of gifts and offerings to the female’s family. We are all worried that the older brother is behind it all and is still planning on marrying her off for this temporary source of extra income. Marriage of anyone below 18 years old is illegal in Uganda, but like many laws, it’s not very well enforced, especially in the more rural northern areas.
The brother who came to school promised both girls would be back January 4th, and unfortunately, there’s nothing anyone can do until then. There’s no way to be in contact with the girls or check up on how they are doing. It’s a sad situation, but one of those things that no one can intervene in. These situations come up kind of a lot, when we think something is wrong and want to change it, but wince we are only outsiders and only here for a short period of time, we have to do our best to let it go.
I won’t be here January 4th, but Freda will be and I will definitely be keeping in touch with her to see how things all play out.