The African Alternative

Tali Bissing

My Motivation

Upon searching for proper definitions, one immediately runs to a dictionary, the bible of the English language. But hinderance resides when words become subjective, subjective to one’s personal preferences and styles of life. An example of this subjectivity lies with the word “transcendentalism”, which is properly defined as “a philosophy which says that thought and spiritual things are more real than ordinary human experience and material things.” One variation of this definition lies within what region one resides in. Citizens of the United States bear a great difference of material things than those within countries such as Africa. Exploring this idea, I elected to adventure to Africa, specifically to African schools and orphanages. Here, I will discover what the true necessities are and how one lives a life without extreme luxury that is taken for granted each day. Visiting schools and orphanages will allow me interaction with children, an asset necessary for my future profession of teaching. I strive to provide children with great energy and a source of optimism for their futures, but the greater gift lies in what they will provide me. With an honest look at real world struggles, I will gain great appreciation for what I am blessed with and new ways to live my life.


Fees, Safety & Housing

This opportunity well-benefits a limited budget. The only fees due are those for the plane trip to and from Uganda and a $500 fee for miscellaneous expenses. Traveling with a group of 10, I will feel secure and have easy access to assistance. At each of the four locations, we will provide volunteer activities for the day. We will specifically serve meals and interact with the children. We hope to gain insight on what else we can do to provide for the children, such as coming equipped with vaccines or nonperishable foods. Furthermore, we will provide assistance in renovations to buildings and living quarters that the children reside in. Acknowledging the risk for disease and illness, the group will provided with proper vaccinations to prevent illness prior to the trip. We will also be provided with an African guide to provide us with safe transportation between our journeys and the necessary translation. The guide has arranged for us to reside with families deemed "suitable" for guests. We will be staying in pairs at these residence. Overall, the trip is one to provide a positive volunteer attitude and comes with little cost to ourselves.

DAY 1: Faith International School and Orphanage [Iganga]

We will begin our journey here at Faith International School and Orphanage under the direction of pastor Moses Kaziba. Kaziba enlightens us on our activities for the day. Half of the group will be playing with the children while the other half teaches the caregivers sanitation guidelines and techniques. Kaziba's main concern is the sanitation that the children are provided, or lack there of. The half interacting with the children will also show the children basic sanitation, such demonstrating how to properly brush their teeth. During lunchtime, we will be allowed time to interact with children and caregivers, addressing what they are in need of and and gaining insight on their day-to-day struggles. The day will conclude with a group art activity allowing the children to express themselves and our group to see their true desires.

DAY 2: New Hope Christian School and Orphanage [Bugiri]

On Day 2 we will venture to New Hope Christian School and Orphanage in Bugiri. We will be greeted by pastor Bernard Monday who will lay out our day's goals. Today he hopes that we are able to explore the facility and take the children on a "field trip." The men in the group will aid pastor Monday in physical labor around the building while the woman will take groups of children to nearby Lake Victoria. A lakeside picnic will be facilitated and students will return to a clean and safe learning environment.

DAY 3: Divine Cornerstone Nursery and Primary School [Busembatia]

Proceeding to Day 3, we will continue our journey to Busembatia, specifically to visit the Divine Cornerstone Nursery and Primary School. Pastor Ronald Kibumba welcomes us and expresses great gratitude. Today he hopes that we are able to attend a few classes and explore the facility, in order to see what renovations can be made. We will take a closer look at the nursery and see if adequate care is being given to the young admitted on a daily basis. Pastor Kibumba hopes we will also have time to join the group in spiritual activity, in hopes we will reach our inner peace. There will also be an opportunity to create to decorate the school walls in hopes of having an overall positive environment.


DAY 4: The Final Opportunity

We conclude our journey at Royal School and Orphanage in Mityana under direction of the wonderful headmistress Jalia Kayondo. A facility that did not even exist 10 years ago stands tall today with running water and bathrooms, things formerly nowhere to be found. Here, we visit the children who have renewed faith in their futures due to the funding of their new school. The children are energetic and kindhearted, radiating with hope. There is no better way to end our journey than to see just how our efforts have the ability to become something amazing. We will attend classes throughout the day and join the students at lunch, truly experiencing the progress that has been made. Our final treat will be a performance by the Ugandan Choir (video below).


Royal School and Orphanage Choir

Conclusion

This journey has provided me with more than I can ever return. Each location rendered an eye-opening experience with African orphans and their guardians. The pastors at each location enlightened us on the what the locations are still lacking: proper electricity, functioning restrooms, standard sanitization items, etc; however, they continually praised our efforts. Although in its entirety life-changing, I cannot cease to remember a particular little girl of the Faith International Orphanage. Roughly 10 years old, nearly emaciated, displaying the now familiar signs of extreme poverty, she refused to leave my side. Contrary to belief, she was not begging for food or a material good; she was inquiring on what she could do to help. Compare little Kissa to an American girl. Present the American girl with the same struggles of little Kissa, and her reaction would be completely different. Extremely eager to help even with nothing but her own two hands, little Kissa will forever be in my heart and in my head, reminding me what is really important in life. When provided sufficient nourishment and guidance, the population of Uganda is capable of great things. For the inhabitants of the United States, it may take a reality check to reveal their true capability.


Sources

Clark, Julie Ann. Royal School and Orphanage Choir. YouTube. YouTube, 6 Aug. 2010. Web. 21 Dec. 2013. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8YbuRxrj-c>.


“A Look Inside.” New Hope Christian School of Orphans. New Hope Christian School of Orphans, 2011. Web. 21 Dec. 2013. <http://newhopechristianschooloforphans.org>.


“Our Feeding Stations.” Pennies for Posho. Pd Go, 2012. Web. 21 Dec. 2013. <http://www.penniesforposho.org/Our-Orphanages-schools-Pennies-for-Posho.html>.


“Success Stories.” Books for Africa. Better World, n.d. Web. 21 Dec. 2013. <http://www.booksforafrica.org>.


“Transcendentalism.” Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, 2013. Web. 21 Dec. 2013. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/transcendentalism>.