Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Malaria, gardens, and schools

My square-foot garden project is very successful. I visit Ssanyu every
week to check up on the gardens and the kids are getting into it as
well as the teachers. It is fun to watch the plants growing and it
will be ready to harvest in no time.

I started an other project where I teach at Seya Primary School twice
a week. I teach P7 (7th grade). I teach them math and health at the
same time. There are only eight students so I have gotten to know the
students pretty well and their personalities. This last time I taught
I was teaching about percentages and incorporated teaching about
malaria. I put up a blank bar graph that they had to fill in at first.
They had to answer the question, "Did you use a mosquito bed-net last
night?" And mark the graph either yes or no. Then they found the
percent that said yes and the percent that said no. Then we had a
discussion about malaria (what it is, how it is caused, what makes
them sick, how to prevent it). A couple of the students already knew a
lot about how to prevent it, but they didn't really know what was
really going on in their bodies which they thought was interesting. I
explained to them that when a mosquito that has malaria bites someone,
the malaria from the mosquitoes saliva gets into their blood stream
and the plasmodium travels to their liver. The plasmodium multiplies
to be tens of thousands then goes back into the blood stream through
red blood cells. The red blood cells rupture and that is when the
person gets sick, has a fever, and feels tired. I showed them a large
picture of what a parasite looks like. Their eyes got really big! We
had a discussing of how it is important to do all we can to prevent
getting malaria and to talk to their family about covering their
windows and doors with screens, getting rid of stagnant water, burning
mosquito coils, and especially using bed nets. After the discussion
about malaria, I gave them a difficult problem to solve in groups so
they would have to work together. The problem was something like "To
be safe from Polio in Uganda, at least 90% of the children need to be
immunized for Polio. In Lugazi last week, about 637 out of 1200
children were immunized. Just from the children last week, is Lugazi
safe from Polio?"

Saleh is the student that loves to talk in class and if he doesn't
understand he shows it. I have him come to the board and explain what
he is thinking and see if other students can catch the mistakes in his
justifications of things. Like last week, I wanted them to understand
that the total percent of a whole is 100%. SO instead of just telling
them, I had them figure it out. However, Saleh led the class in
thinking that the total percent is 1%. I asked many questions to lead
them to understand it is 100% but Saleh just wasn't listening until I
finally made him show me his thinking at the board and had him figure
out where he went wrong.

I love teaching at Seya. They are really good at working together and
I think I am making them start loving math. Muah haha. A lot of
people, mostly adults, hate math and tell me they failed it in
secondary school. I had a good discussion with one of the guys from a
local NGO, The Youth Outreach Mission, about how math is important and
it can be applied to everyday life, but he completely disagreed. That
was a fun conversation. :)


Friday, July 17, 2009

Seya School

About two times a week several volunteers go to Seya Primary School. It is a primary school that is located about twenty minutes outside of Lugazi. It is a gorgeous drive and a relaxing time on a boda. We teach all classes, ranging from P1-P7, with subjects such as English, hygiene, sanitation, safety, mathematics, and science. Sometimes they make us teach nursery and it is really difficult because we don’t speak Lugandan well and they don’t speak English well. The school has 4 temporary shelters that they use as classrooms, one of which was built by HELP last year. They basically just have a roof and wood dividers between classrooms with rows of benches for the students. Annette, headmistress of Seya School, is one of our most beloved people here in Uganda. She treats us to food every time we go out there and gives us delicious juice that is miraculously cold. Annette and her husband Josiah are gems and so fun to sit and talk with while we wait for bodas. They have a little girl named Dawn that had a great fear of Mzungus the first time we went, but now she gets the biggest smile every time we show up. The school has almost filled their latrine (it smells really great) so we started work building a new one. The pit latrine was dug by the community and we are starting to build the foundation…hopefully it is stable and no kids fall into the pit of despair.

Seya is the greatest place and we love love love going there. The kids are so cute and so smart, and we love being called “Madame”. One day when we showed up there were 30 or so boys stripping down to their underwear and none of us knew what was going on. They threw their clothes all over the trees and then formed a large circle and started dancing and singing. We finally asked Annette what they were doing and she said they were just exercising and getting some fresh air. We are not sure why they had to take their clothes off to exercise…