Visiting Sky’s the Limit School – A haven for young children in Uganda
This summer my wife Lauren and I went on our honeymoon to Uganda, to go trekking with gorillas and chimpanzees, and connect with the incredible nature of Africa. However, when we arrived we found that the true magic was in the hearts of the Ugandan people. At the encouragement of Liza Hollingshead and Henrietta Rose, one of Ecologia’s trustees, we visited Sky’s the Limit School in Fort Portal, and spent time with some of the children and the wonderful head of the school, Rose Kabasinguzi Mugenyi, who has dedicated the last 20 years to building and growing this incredible school.
Sky’s the Limit School has around 350 children from Primary 1 through Primary 7, who all come from the local area around Fort Portal. While the initial focus of the school was to support children that have been affected by HIV and AIDS, the school has grown to also help children whose families could not afford to educate them otherwise. Some of these children live with parents or other family members if their parents are gone, others are orphaned – and Rose has more than 25 children living at her home, because her heart cannot say no to them. For these children, Sky’s the Limit School is what gives them a sense of community, belonging and hope for the future.
It was the holidays when we visited the school, but still there were still around 20 children, from age 4 to 12 or 13, at the school dressed in their uniforms to meet us. When we arrived, they marched up in line, and gave us a warm welcome with a song and many smiles.
We spoke with Rose, who explained that for many of these children, coming to school was their only chance for a properly nutritious meal, and that they are struggling with funding to even provide that to them. For children with HIV, the school also plays a critical role in ensuring that they receive and take the medication they need to stay healthy.
We toured the school rooms, which were very basic, with simple blackboards and wooden desks for the children. But all of the classrooms were full of the children’s work hanging on the walls to show pride in what they have achieved, as well as lessons on everything from English to Mathematics to Science and Geography. The teachers didn’t have much in the way of classroom materials to work with, but made sure to create an engaging learning space for the children.
Some of the classrooms were in a large concrete block, while others were in a dilapidated wooden building, with termite-infested walls. Rose told us of their plans to replace these classrooms and how they need funding to help them build. They can do so much with just a little, but that they desperately need a helping hand to realise these plans.
The children treated us to several songs that they had learned at school, including solos from some of the older members. The songs ranged from ones about family, food and nutrition to another about AIDS. Uganda is such a musical country and it was wonderful to see how they used song as one part of teaching the children about critical issues. And all the children just loved singing and performing!
Then we went outside for a game of football, boys vs. girls! While the boys won (just!), the girls gave them a good run for their money, and even the little ones got to play. All the kids in Uganda are football crazy, and balls are definitely top gifts for any visitors from overseas! Afterward the school chefs served us all a traditional meal with matoke (savory banana), binyebwa (nut sauce), sweet potato, vegetables and posho (maize meal), all cooked in a little wooden hut out the back. And it was hearty and good!
We had a fantastic time visiting with Rose, the teachers and children at Sky’s the Limit School. What really stood out was just how much the children loved the school and how important a role it played in their lives. Rose and the teachers there have more than just heart – they have a real understanding of the needs of these children and how to develop bright, inquisitive minds. They are doing an amazing job, but their resources are stretched so thin. They desperately need more funding to provide nutritious meals for the children, basic school supplies, and ultimately to build a new school house to replace the wooden classrooms that are falling apart. These are tangible projects that we can support that will make a real difference to the lives and futures of these children. If you are inspired and able, please help Ecologia Youth Trust support them!
Former Ecologia Trustee