What is Community Outreach?

Recently, we hired a new Community Outreach Manager to begin working in the community of Kamdini. But what exactly is Community Outreach?

Community Outreach is our main activity where we work alongside families to help them develop life and business skills to be able to provide for their families. At Ignite Change, we value self-sustainability and want to work WITH the families instead of giving them a handout. This was the first focus of Ignite Change back in 2016 with the goal of helping these families send their kids to school to be able to feed them and get proper healthcare when needed.

Once we enter a new community, we go to a few churches to identify vulnerable families. These include widows, orphans, and disabled persons. We then visit their homes and conduct a survey to determine what assets they have, how large their family is, are their children in school, how many meals they eat in a day, etc. From this, we choose those with the most immediate needs and form groups.

In Kamdini, 70 families were identified and surveys conducted at their homes. A chart representing the sizes of the families is found below. [There is a large population of (18) elderly individuals living by themselves who are disabled or widowed. Their needs are different since most cannot do physical labor. We are going to work with the churches or another nonprofit in order for them to get the tangible resources they need.]

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Out of the 70, we made two groups of 12 people to begin conducting classes. The first classes are to encourage the participants by learning about our identities in Christ, that we have been given gifts and talents from our Creator, and sharing dreams for the future. The next sections of classes are on basic life skills that many people may have never received. These include family and community, hygiene and healthcare, nutrition, infant care, importance of education, and budgeting.

After about two months of weekly classes, the participants now have a more open mind on how they can identify work to make an income. We work with them to see their natural talents, passions, and assets then see if these choices can actually make money. The profitable choice that most aligns with each individual is then created into a business plan. We help them launch their new activity (or a better version of something they had been doing previously) by giving them goods (seeds, cloth, etc). After the activity is launched, we continue classes with the groups, monitor and get feedback for the various activities.

We are exciting to begin sharing stories with you! Classes will continue over a span of approximately four months before businesses are launched. It is a slow process, but changing the mindset of people can be the most difficult task. Helping them look at themselves not as poor, but as capable, hard-working individuals with plans to change their lives.

If you have not joined our monthly giving team to become a Change Maker, this is a great time to do so! Families are working hard to make a better life for their children – making a bright future.

Why can't so many children read?

Many students arriving for the first time at Nimaro Education Centre had never held a book in their hands. Some were trying to read the books upside down and others were memorized by the pictures. The teachers’ excitement was similar to the children’s - they could not get enough of the pictures and information these books had to offer.

Access to education globally has improved yet literacy rates have mostly stayed the same or even decreased. How can these children, that have been in schools for years, not read?

There are multiple factors that contribute to low literacy rates beyond lacking access to reading materials. Many students have to walk a long distance to school. They may get tired along the way and decide not to go to school that day. Teachers may also decide to not show up to teach due to the fact they have not been paid and have to find work elsewhere or they may be unmotivated and take advantage of a system with no oversight.

The ratio of children to teachers is very high in many developing countries. In the BBC Podcast referenced below, the ratio is 80 children in a classroom of 1 teacher in Kenya. Here in Uganda, it is common to find upwards of 200 children in 1 classroom! Imagine how lost a child must feel in this sea of children.

Teachers only lecture from the front of the classroom. There is little feedback or participation from students. The classrooms are filled with nameless children who are expected to sit, listen and take notes for the whole day.

Beyond literacy, comprehension rates are even lower. Teachers frequently only ask surface-level questions and do not challenge children with critical thinking or problem solving. This education system is setting up the children for failure.

How is Nimaro Education Centre different?

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Children and teachers here have hundreds of books to choose from. Books and pictures can take a person to a different place. When teachers talk about an octopus, students can see an actual picture of how it looks!

Classroom sizes are limited to 35 students per class and teachers have been trained to use hands-on learning, class participation and group work. Some of these students receiving this quality education still walk quite a distance to come to the school, however, when they arrive, they are fed breakfast and lunch so they do not have to go through the whole day hungry!

There is a completely different atmosphere when one visits Nimaro versus a Ugandan public school. Our children look forward to coming to school to learn! Our teachers are invested in the lives of the students and want to build them up to be successful. We are happy to provide these children with a solid foundation and start to their lives!

Here is the BBC Podcast: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/w3cswqvk

2 Hours to Change Lives!

What can 2 hours really do?

Well here in Uganda, 2 hours worth of your wages can do so much!

We have launched a campaign called 2 Hours where we are asking you to give 2 hours worth of your wages every month to Ignite Change. Watch the video below to hear Emily talk about the campaign.

To learn how much impact you can have and to sign up, click here.

Trivia Night!

Thank you to everyone who came out for Trivia Night! We had a great time testing what we know about general knowledge, landmarks, commercials, and Uganda. It was great meeting new faces and sharing about our mission !

Congratulations to all our round winners! And congratulations to Ay Ay Ay Wombats for winning overall :)

In total, we raised over $2,000 for Ignite Change! This allows us to continue empowering families in Uganda through community outreach and education. It also enables us to continue growing towards a technical school in the new community of Kamdini.

We recognize that many of you could not understand the video of Rodgers, one of our Secondary Students. There are now captions added! Hear about Rodgers's life growing up with a family who did not value education. And what he is doing now to have a better future.

Ms. Pegge's Trip to Uganda

Beginning each day with an hour-long trip to the school over bumpy, dusty roads, I was astonished by the number of children walking alongside the road, hurrying on their way to school. Older children holding the hands of the younger. No mind for the cars, and even huge trucks, passing them so closely it would have been possible to reach out the window and touch them. Children on a daily mission of walking to school, happy to have the opportunity to receive an education. Occasionally, children were carrying pieces of wood which would be used for a fire to cook their meals on.

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Upon arrival at school I was greeted by such a feeling of warmth. Out-stretched hands and the greeting, “You’re welcome” was offered by teachers and students alike. Instantly, I knew at once this was going to be an encounter like no other I have previously experienced.

While getting materials unpacked and ready for use, I was able to watch the teachers within the classrooms and I was truly impressed! Unlike teachers in the United State who have unlimited, readily- available materials, these teachers knew how to keep the students engaged with minimal resources. They were creative in their teaching methods and used songs, rhymes and very limited visual aids. Through repetition, students were learning how to speak English and were receiving their daily lessons. However, their teaching resources were tremendously increased by the materials brought from donations and supporters state side. Seeing teachers use materials never available to them before, I could tell how richly blessed they felt.      

No doubt my most humbling observations came from watching the children’s faces as they touched and explored items never seen before. From books, which sometimes were even being viewed upside-down, to materials which taught numbers and letters, the students were totally engaged in the moment, so eager to explore whatever they were holding. Their quest for knowledge was as instinctual as any child. Although language was a definite barrier, by using hand gestures and a reassuring smile, I did my best to present lessons to these precious children.

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As days passed we became more familiar with each other and a true bond was formed. I will never forget the girl who read a book to me that she had practiced for a few days; she was smiling from ear to ear with pride. It had not been often these children got to hold books, however, thankfully all that had now changed!

Unfortunately, three weeks passed too quickly. Leaving was difficult. There was so much more to do, so much more to help the teachers with, so much more to teach the children

As I prepared to depart, the staff and students expressed their heartfelt gratefulness for all that had been provided to them. No casual “thank-you” rather repeated handshakes and kind expressions; “Don’t forget about us when you get home.” “Tell everyone in the states, thank you!” Words spoken with sincere gratitude.

The 28-hour trip home provided plenty of time to reflect; seeing people living with few modern conveniences yet completely satisfied, experiencing genuine gratitude from those who have so little, and the feeling that I should never take anything for granted. This small village will never be the same due to the outpouring of compassionate people.

“Come and see what our God has done, what awesome miracles He performs for people!”  Psalm 66:5