When we describe our work here in Uganda to friends at home in Canada, they often say, “That must be very rewarding work.” Yes, it is. And I was reminded of that fact yesterday when I stopped in to visit Judith and her two children at her home not far from the Timothy Centre.
I first met Judith about 15 years ago when she came to work as the “matron” at Kibaale Children’s Centre. She was an orphan herself, 18 years old. Her job was to care for the dozen or so children who were still living full time at the centre and she worked with amazing dedication and a motherly heart. She soon became one of our nursery school teachers as well, working both in the classroom and supervising, counselling, bathing, feeding and nurturing the children in her care. She had no teacher training, so was one of the many teachers that benefited from our teacher development program in Kibaale.
Her two children are bright, healthy children with potential for a full, vibrant life.
At a recent workshop in Kibaale for our nursery teachers we brought in two of our former students who are now in university and teachers’ college because we wanted them to give testimony to the difference that a nursery teacher can make in a child’s life. Both of them told our teachers that the one teacher who stood out in their minds as making a significant difference in their lives and learning was Judith. Judith also served as our Special Unit teacher for two years, working with children who are hearing impaired and have other learning difficulties. Again, she tackled this job with great determination and gentle patience, even though she had to learn sign language ‘from scratch’ on the job and had no training in special needs education. It was challenging to help her learn skills to work in this classroom, but the rewards were great.
When she married about 5 years ago, we were sorry to see her leave Kibaale, but she has now started her own nursery/primary school in a small village near the Timothy Centre and serves on an education committee for the sub-county. Many teachers are now coming to her for mentoring and training, and she has arranged for us to provide training to neighbouring schools as well. She has also assisted us in conducting community surveys to help us in planning for early childhood teacher training programs.
Working with people like Judith is indeed very rewarding!