The village of Mbiriizi was a small fractured community prior to the development of the school through Sylvia's support. During that time, as people were beginning to realize all that is available to their children and seeing how the school improves a community, they moved there in the hopes of being a part of it. Unlike the past, private homes are now visible within the boundaries of the school grounds and beyond. As seen in all villages, there are still many children who do not attend school. I have to imagine that this will be the case until schools are either government-funded or people view education as a partial solution in alleviating their challenging financial positions. Of course, they will then have to find a way to fund this education, as well. This will not be an easy road to improvement or a quick change in attitude for these hard-working people.
So many children in the village of Mbiriizi are not in school...
there is a 63% illiteracy rate in Uganda.
The need for children caring for children is obvious all over Uganda and no different in Mbiriizi. With parents busy farming, hauling water, food, and supplies for the home, and working when employment is available, the responsibility for caring for smaller children falls to the "older" ones. By "older", this could mean a 4 year old babysitter. Our granddaughter, Kaia, will be 4 years old in September and it is just impossible to imagine her being in the position of "caretaker" for a younger sibling. At that age, children should be carefree and learning to read and share and to take turns. Worrying about their next meal or about being in the circle of adult love and comfort should not be a concern...it is a right all children need to have yet so many are denied this advantage.
Water is essential for daily survival so without running water available, it is a constant and arduous task for families to collect it. 5 gallon jerry cans are typically used by adults and older children, while the younger ones have smaller cans to fill. FYI: 5 gallons of water weighs almost 42 pounds. Throughout our journey we saw bicycles draped with multiple jerry cans, women, men and children carrying cans on their heads, backs, and in their hands, and even little ones filling their own cans in still puddles. This is, by no means, a filtered supply of water. Only bottled water passed through these lips!
The Mbiriizi Advanced Day and Boarding School:
Along with the village, the school has electricity about every 3rd day. There are a few western indoor toilets on the grounds, a number of Ugandan toilet facilities, a well of clean water, and lots and lots of energy. There is a kitchen, a common assembly building, offices, a girls and a boys dorm, several classroom buildings, a library, sewing center, and a clinic is in the making...Thank you, Gran Slyvia!
They broke ground for the clinic on the school grounds while we were there - by hand, in the red clay dirt and the equatorial sun getting paid @ $2.00 USD a day for their efforts. They are happy to have the work. We also had a hand in this effort...a very small symbolic gesture, indeed, but we did experience how difficult this job will be! Sylvia sent updated photos since our return and walls are already being constructed! This clinic will not only serve the school's population but the surrounding community, as well. They will be able to come to the clinic, avoiding a long trip into Masaka to visit the clinic there, saving money on transportation that will be used for the medical services rendered.
Sylvia received more photos of the clinic's progress today!
Sylvia sent another updated photo of the clinic, Thursday, July 12, 2012.
AIDS has a constant presence in the lives of these children and is responsible for creating so many orphans. To that end, the school in Mbiriizi has signs up all around the grounds reminding their students to take control of their lives and make positive, healthy decisions.
FYI: The average age in Uganda is 15 years old. Life expectancy is 51 years.