The Ugandan kids are currently out of school again, second term holiday. They head back to their final term next week so we have been school shopping and prepping for their yearly finals. I know I don't write about these kids that I (which means you through me!) sponsor much so it seems about time for an update on all of them. This is Emmanuel. He is currently a first year, secondary school student (Like a high school freshman). He is doing very well, especially in maths and every time we are together he asks me to let him drive. I caved once and that was enough.
This is Tony. He is a primary student, fourth year. (Like a 3rd grader) he really struggles with reading and will have some real challenges ahead of him but he is tough.
This is Ken. He is very stubborn and wouldn't let me take a picture so I had to do it while he wasn't paying attention. He is also a first year, secondary school student (like a high school freshman). His grades aren't bad but he has some major anger issues. (I've set broken bones twice with him after hitting things.) More on that in a second.
This is Joyce. She is in her final year of primary school so she will be taking PLE (Primary Leaving Exams) next month. These will determine if she can go to secondary school, which she would really like to do. She reads well but struggles in other subjects.
This is Vicky Akello. She is in her second year of secondary school (equivalent of a sophomore). She is very quiet but very bright. She would like to be a doctor and I'm pretty sure she can do it. I'm still trying to convince her she would rather be a nurse though!
This is Janet. Of the whole bunch she struggles the most. She should be in secondary school by now but she has never mastered reading. I'm sure she has significant learning disabilities and I've tried a couple of times to help her read but I'm not a teacher by any stretch of the imagination. Please pray for us as I have no idea what to do with her.
This is Opio. He is also very bright. He is also in his final primary year and will be taking PLE. I had to give him the bad news that as I have so many secondary students now I can't sponsor him next year. However, I know he is bright enough to get a scholarship if he really tries. There were lots of tears when I broke the news but I'm not worried for him.
Hopefully, you noticed that one more sponsored kid is missing. The first one I started with, Betty. Oh boy, please pray for this situation. Betty is (again) in her first year of secondary school and has always struggled with grades. Last term her mother took all of the money I'd given for school so no school fees were paid. Betty was kicked out mid term. She begged and cajoled her way through most of her classes but, no surprise, did very poorly. She is not allowed to receive her grades until she pays all the money she owes so we don't know exactly how she did. I just don't know what to do. At the start of this year (after failing last year) I told her I had to stop paying for school if she didn't show me she was serious about school and picked up her grades. She promised over and over. No boys, no distractions. She would read and study and apply herself and show me she could do it. Well, I saw no proof that any of these promises were true. Now, I owe double (for last term and this term) for her to even finish this year. On top of that she has moved out of her home (which is close to school) into the home of friends and has told me she would need a bike to get to school each day. No way. I told her she would just have to move home. But she fights with her mother incessantly on top of the fact that an alcoholic grandmother and five other siblings are all squeezed into a two room shack with no power or water. I'm aware that it isn't actually a good place to go home to in the evening and attempt to study. But many children in this country overcome that. I just don't know how to do it correctly.
However, follow me on this one, the four of them have two different mothers and three different fathers. I actually had to draw a diagram when they explained it to me. Ken and Vicky share the same mother but different fathers. Vicky and Janet share the same father and Tony has a different father than any of the other three but the same mother as Janet. One of their mothers abandoned Ken and Vicky when Vicky was just a few months old and hasn't been seen again. They currently (sort of) live with Tony and Janet's mother but she leaves them for weeks at a time when she has work in the village and they are expected to fend for themselves. And she resents that she was stuck with some children who are not hers. The kids report that she is always angry and they actually like it better when they are alone at home. Ken's father is a soldier (currently stationed in Congo, he thinks) and he sees him once or twice a year. Father number three is around occasionally and seems to actually care about Tony but beats all four of them and is known to take food and money from them. They say he crashes in their house if he knows Tony's mother is out in the village but when she gets back "she drives him away." Father number two, the one who donated sperm for Janet and Vicky hasn't been seen in years and they weren't even sure of his name. Is it any wonder that Ken has anger issues, that Janet is 15 years old and can't read and that Vicky has never been successful in school?! Please pray for them and me as I navigate how to best help them to be successful in this life and not repeat the same mistakes as their parents.