On Time [Adult Literacy Programme]

28th July 2017

Time passes slowly up here in the daylight We stare straight ahead and try so hard to stay right Like the red rose of summer that blooms in the day Time passes slowly and fades away

~Bob Dylan, Time Passes Slowly | New Morning, 1970

  Throughout my placement here in Busembatia, Uganda, time has been central to the entire experience. There is something quaintly and quietly off about the time here, in many ways. People keep time differently, even tell time differently than I am used to back home. Moreover, time passes fast and slowly. Days pass fleetingly and weeks last for months and months last forever and are out before you notice it. It has now been six months, almost to the day, since I arrived. Time ground to a halt for the first weeks, when everything was new. I would arrive a little before 2 in the afternoon, fully prepped for my introductory sessions with the women I would be spending months with. Knowing I knew not what to expect, I expected at least that my eagerness would be met. It was, even if it did not take the form of punctuality and a nervous energy to match mine. Joseph and I sat, as we would sit

12th May 2017

Jamie works as Adult Literacy intern for WIL Uganda. Every weekday, he reaches out to women in the community to teach them English. But there’s more to teaching English than just learning new words: empowering women is what our organisation is about. “Mulija Bukonte. Ndi musomesa,” I answer the conductor on the matatu. He asked me where I was going and what I am doing here. I am a teacher and have been working in this community in Busembatia for 3 months now. Today, Joseph and I reach out to Angela in Bukonte. Angela and many women like her on our programme have received little or no formal education. Their levels vary greatly, but what they have in common is their age-bracket. They are all adults, and I am, as of three months, an adult literacy teacher. I have been a teacher for quite some time now, starting as a private tutor. I taught a skills course at my university during my BA and MA. Most recently I have been working with students that had been in conflict with the law, or came from turbulent at-home situations or had had an otherwise bumpy ride in life so far. What they had in common was a healthy dislike for school, class and teachers. Getting them to pay me some attention other than utter disdain was a daily battle. I thought teaching adult women who came to us of their own volition would be a stroll

20th March 2017

Ssesanga Nasser Shafatinho is a student participating in our Teen Voices programme for boys. In this programme, students learn to think about gender (in)equality, women’s empowerment and issues regarding this in their daily life. By writing articles, they learn to elaborate their thinking and reflect on their situation. Teen Voices articles are currently published on Teen Voices New York and FeministWednesday. My mother was a Musoga from Luuka. She married a Muganda man from Mubende. And that man is my father. When he married my mother, my father already had two wives. My father was a boat engine mechanic on a certain Island in Mayuge. I was born in 2004. My mother was a nurse on the same island. The time came when my father didn’t get enough money, and there were some prostitutes who were begging him for money. My mother became angry when my father stole my mother’s engine and sold it to build a house and put another wife in it. My mother divorced him but it was not a serious divorce. She worked and worked and she got money. She bought many houses and bought a plot in Iganga and built a nice house there. However, because she was busy she didn’t have time to be in that house – so she found a wife who

14th March 2017

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On the 2nd of March, WIL Uganda celebrated International World Book Day. If you mull that sentence over for a couple of times, it begins to look strange. World Book Day is not a holiday proper. It is on a par with World Pet Day. Far from everyone knows of its existence and, I submit, fewer remember the date. Reactions are usually ‘ah, is that today?’ instead of ‘Happy World Book Day!’

Not so in Uganda. Together with Noraly and Joseph, I picked up a group of students from Townside High School. I preach my love of books and reading here during the weekly book club that is part of the Literacy programme. While walking back to the office, I wonder. Is WBD really for us? For them? They hardly have books, there is no reading on the curriculum in schools. Could they name one Ugandan author? We make it to the office a little before 11 and show them around. Even though our event is outside, it is worth the slight delay to show them the inside: some of their pictures are on our walls. There is a mixture in the air of stolid concentration and elated excitement when they find a picture of themselves. Outside, where we have decorated the outer office with banners that Joseph whipped up, and an easel with Poppy’s delightful summary-in-drawing of Harry Potter, we explain the day’s objective. They are to read a story, in groups of 5, sum

9th March 2017

“Football! We really want to play football,” was the unanimous response of both teenage girls and grown-up women to the question what they wanted to do on International Women’s Day. Football and sports are generally a man’s thing, here. But on International Women’s Day, March 8, women decide what the festivities look like. [text continues after photo] International Women's Day Football At 11:30AM, the girls and women lined up at the football pitch. The girls, all from schools where we run our programmes, played in sporty shirts and stretchy skirts. The women, all participants on our community programmes, wore festive traditional dress: bold dresses with pointy shoulders, bright colours and the occasional glitter. Barefoot, laughing, yelling and screaming, they ran across the football field. An energetic match followed by a dramatic series of penalties eventually resulted in victory for the girl’s team.

“I am very happy to be part of these women on this day”

The International Women’s Day festivities continued at WIL Uganda’s office in the center of the village. Girls from local high

1st March 2017

Rehmar is a 15-year-old student at Townside High School. She loves to eat rice, and her favourite subject is English. Rehmar is a passionate advocate for education, and she is a current member of the Teen Voices Programme. Articles are published online at this website. Rehmars advice to other girls would be to “take education as a serious thing”.

“School helps me to know and understand more about the world.”

Rehmar loves going to school. She likes to learn and explore things she doesn’t know about. Rehmar wants to be a doctor, and she aims to achieve this by reading sciences and concentrating on her studies. School is very important to her as she believes that, were she not studying, there would be no good future for her, and she would end up getting married at a young age. This is an all too common problem in Uganda; 40% of girls under the age of 18 are married, and consequently many of them drop out of school.

“[My community could improve] by educating people.”

Rehmar believes that if the whole community is educated then there would be easy access to everything. If people are not educated, then they can’t earn enough money to send their children to school. WIL Uganda empowers women in the community by educating them in l

1st August 2015

On 26th October we took 20 school girls from Townside Secondary School to  see Disney’s newest blockbuster Queen of Katwe at Century Cinemax in Kampala. The film depicts the true story of Phiona a young girl from the slums of Kampala who becomes a world champion chess player.  Many of the girls live very basically very much like Phiona in the film and were interviewed after the film about their reactions: What are your names and how old are you? My name is Ezereda and I am 15 years old. My name is Moureen and I am 15 years old. My name is Ruth and I am 15 years old. Did you enjoy the trip to see Queen of Katwe? Ezereda: Yes, I enjoyed. On the way to Kampala, I saw the different plantations, like sugar, which I had not seen before. Moureen: Yes, I enjoy. Ruth: Yes. I enjoyed because I saw the film ‘Queen of Katwe.’ Had you been to Kampala before? Ezereda: No, I had never been. Moureen: Never. Ruth: No, I had not. What did you like about Kampala? Ezereda: I liked the way they built their buildings. There is a big difference to how we build them in Busembatia. It is important to go to different places because it g