When a volunteer first gets to site they are loaded with ideas, naiveté, and strong A
merican cultural glasses from which they view their new home...despite their conscientious attempts not to do so. PCV minds are filled with ideas on how to improve their new home, their community, and how to bring their village up to speed as best as they can. These ideas are not always feasible or realistic. As time progresses, you learn many things. You learn how to assess where your community is, what they truly need, and what will remain when you are gone. Two years is a long time to be away from home, but it is quite ephemeral in regards to any sort of change, or even a needs assessment. I am now on the tail end of this experience and it seems as though I am finally looking through the same glasses as my school.
The school already has a full time librarian and dedicated building for a library. Unfortunately, the school librarian is not well supported. The books are few, old, and in terrible shape, so he spends the majority of his time reading the local newspapers or hovering over me while I conduct computer lessons. Whenever the library is open you can always find girls in there, and I know that I should be happy that they are there, but instead I found myself depressed at the idea of the quality of resources they have available. They are thirsty for knowledge.
When I heard about this project from Eric, I knew it was the answer to the problem at my school. I was able to raise enough money to purchase 2,500 books and a laptop for my school. A reading atmosphere is not a term people use to describe Uganda, but within our community at Ngora Girls it is the head mistress' goal to make it a central part of our mission. The girls are confined to a small compound throughout the school year. The distractions are very limited: no TV, video games, magazines, substantial computers, or internet. Once the library is complete it is our hope that it will be their gateway into new worlds. Their time will no longer be idle, and they will be consumed by books just as we have been lucky to do our whole lives.
Books expand minds, widen the world, and motivate people to strive for something better in life. Thank you for allowing the girls of Ngora School strive for something more. Thank you Eric, and thank you all my supporters! This library is going to rock all the girls and teachers at Ngora Girls long after I leave!
The next day PCV Haley White picked up 11 boxes for her organization Bushenyi district. Another testament to American women, she spent the day lifting the 30lb boxes from one taxi to another on the 7 hour trip home.
Friday will bring pickups by an NGO in Mubende that is distributing books to 3 schools, as well as a pickup from Centre for Community Deveopment Programs, a great NGO out of Kampala which supports at-risk youth in computer training and University placement.