This is one morning that when I even start think about it, I just start to giggle. It is a reflex. Because it was so ridiculous.
Now that I’ve built it up way more than it should be built up, I will commence with some mediocre storytelling.
When my summer roommate Allie had come to Uganda the previous two times, it was with this awesome lady Sherry and her ministry Loving One by One. Naturally, she wanted to visit Sherry while they were both in the country. Allie had spent some time both at New Creation Family Home – the orphanage we did some teaching at earlier in the summer – but also at New Creation Centre – a free school (which is basically awesome and unheard of in Uganda) for refugee children from Northern Uganda and Sudan.
Allie was going to spend one last morning at New Creation Centre, and I suggested that Jessica and I join her. We’d spent time at Sherry’s children’s home and so we were excited to see the school that we’d been hearing about.
The school is actually a house that has been transformed into teaching spaces. Allie gave us a little tour, and then we ended up helping out in a particular class that only has a part time teacher.
Exams were coming up, so they were spending the day reviewing.
The teacher gladly handed over the material and we took turns questions to the class.
Here is where things got a bit comical.
We were helping them to review science. Science that we ourselves hadn’t necessarily learned.
First, we taught them about plants. These kids are expected to know a lot of detailed information about plants. And be able to draw all sorts of diagrams. And define many plant-y words. Words that us girls could not pronounce. We were often met with blank stares. Blank stares that told us it wasn’t just our American accents that were causing problems. More likely the fact that with our American accents we were butcher scientific words that we had no idea what they meant. At one point I learned to reword my questions to include the definition rather than the vocabulary.
The next section of review was my personal favorite.
In case you don’t use the terminology, “disease vector” in your daily vocabulary, I am proud to be able to tell you that a disease vector is an organism that spreads disease. This lesson was under the heading of the importance of proper sanitation.
We talked in great detail about things like fleas, rats, mice, cockroaches, lice, bed bugs and more.
Suffice it to say I learned a lot that morning.
I learned things like black cockroaches are bigger than brown cockroaches.
Hair lice are black while body lice are white.
Rat Fleas carry the bubonic plague.
In addition to specific diseases these vectors carry, I learned about HOW they carry them, where they live, and how to protect against them.
It might be as simple as keeping your food covered so that a cute little cockroach doesn’t walk through it after walking through something not so sanitary.
OR if you have vectors living in your kitchen walls, simply spread cow dung over the cracks in the walls or floor to make that little problem go away (although I still question – wouldn’t this bring about new problems? Cow dung in your kitchen??)
Eventually, after learning more than we ever wanted to know about gross insects and tiny creatures, we sighed with relief that it was time for a porridge break. Plus, BONUS, we didn’t have to drink porridge with the students or staff. Instead we were whisked off to our next task: book organization! As fascinating as disease vectors were, this was much more up my alley.
We moved books to an outdoor walkway by Sherry’s office and Jessica cleaned the books and Allie and I sorted them into levels for different grades. I love looking at books, and was delighted with some that we found. However, my real delight is that this is a school in Africa that has books! I was shocked and saddened when I visited so many schools in Uganda and not a single book was to be found. I’m so happy for the kids at New Creation Centre that they are growing up, learning to read real books.