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

14th March 2017

[scroll down for more photos]

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