Friday, June 24, 2011

Kako Prayer Mountain


One year ago, a group of us who are on the national committee for Christian Schools Association (Uganda) felt we should set aside a day to pray for the Christian schooling movement here.  We had begun the association after the Africa Roundtable on Christian Education in Johannesburg in 2007, where delegates from 32 countries committed ourselves before God to the cause of quality Christian education in our respective countries.  In Uganda we had seen some progress in training Christian teachers and organising a network of schools for mutual support, but were also experiencing some discouragements and set-backs.  So we set ourselves to prayer, asking God to show the way forward.  Our meeting place was a peaceful retreat centre on the top of a hill just outside of Masaka town, known as “Kako Prayer Mountain”.

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It is interesting that this week, on the same site, we hosted an Association of Christian Schools International teacher training conference.  It was attended by teachers throughout Uganda (and some representatives from South Sudan and Tanzania) who are passionate about helping children find their full potential in Christ and living with integrity through Christian education.  We have not seen this level of commitment at any of our previous workshops, and were excited to hear their stories as to how God has stirred their hearts and prepared them to receive this training.  We feel this has been part of the answer to our prayers and look forward to seeing what God will do this coming year in Christian schools here.

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One of the main presenters was Dr. Samson Makhado, the ACSI Director for Africa, an amazing educator who reflects the love and wisdom of God and challenges teachers to do the same.

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Samson has been through some of worst apartheid experiences in South Africa and was close to death after being shot in a home invasion, but has come through these with a forgiving heart and a Christ-like spirit.  He carries an authority displayed only by those who have survived deep suffering through the grace of God. 

One of the teachers who attended this conference was a lady who left the government school system after 10 years teaching secondary school History. 

ACSI workshop Kako (June 21) 005She had a  growing sense that she needed to be involved in changing students lives and that she was not doing that in her teaching.  She was asked to head a Christian primary school and took up this challenge, but needed training to lead her teachers in teaching from a Christian perspective. This past month she began searching for resource people to help, and came across our PAOS website and information on the Association of Christian Schools International.  Last week she emailed me, surprised to find that others shared her heart for Christian schooling:

“I cannot believe that you have been in Uganda for this long. It is shocking for me. I am a great great advocate of Christian Education and particularly with the Ugandan Curriculum. I am Head Teacher who runs a school that meets the very needs of your Kibaale Project and Timothy Project Schools. I was wondering whether there is anyone in Uganda who I can directly coordinate with. I would like to visit the projects and also find a way that you could help me train my teachers as well. Thank you for all the work you are doing in Uganda. “

When we arrived at Kako Prayer Mountain, we met each other (neither knowing the other would be there).  God is definitely at work in all of this! 

We also had several teachers at this conference express interest in taking the Diploma in Christian Education course we hope to offer at Timothy Centre next year, so we have our work cut out for us as we prepare these programs for January.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Model School

It is exciting to see our school in Kibaale becoming more and more involved in hosting teachers from other schools and fulfilling its goal of being a model school.  Last week we had a group from Come Let Us Dance (Wakiso District), and today I took a group of six teachers from various nursery schools near Masaka to tour Kibaale Community Nursery School.

nursery teacher tour to Kibaale 048 Judith (on left) taught on our Kibaale staff for many years and is now running her own nursery/primary school.  She is on the board of an association of private schools in her sub-county and has been sharing with these schools many ideas and teaching methods she learned in Kibaale.  The schools represented in this association have been asking for more teacher training help, so Judith approached me to conduct workshops for them.  We began by taking this group of teachers to observe how we use learning centres in the nursery and kindergarten classes in Kibaale.

Our nursery headteacher, Eva, did an excellent job in organising this visit, and I was very proud of all of our teachers who opened their classrooms and shared their expertise so willingly.

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The visiting teachers went back to their schools with many helpful ideas that they observed and recorded as they interacted with the students and teachers in Kibaale.  They were also very interested in the creative learning materials our teachers had developed.

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We will now provide these teachers with some follow-up workshops held at the Timothy Centre… to help them plan ways to implement these ideas in their own schools and to teach them how to make many of the learning aids they will need.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Lake Mburo

We took the weekend to rest and relax at Lake Mburo National Park, about an hour and a half from our place at the Timothy Centre.

It is a small, peaceful  game park  that we have often visited and know well…but each time there seems to be a new surprise of some sort.  This time, we were barely inside the park when we came across a large gathering of vultures and Maribou storks finishing off the remains of an animal kill. 

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These are sure efficient ‘rubbish removers’ but still not the most pleasant of animals to view.  Thankfully, we saw many other beautiful animals, including the shy and quite rare bushbuck…

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…large herds of impala…


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…and many zebra.

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The warthogs are everywhere, including the area around the lakeside restaurant, and they can get pretty ornery if they think you are encroaching on their grazing patch.

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Somehow they seemed not to mind Karl too much, though.

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All in all, a great getaway to recharge our batteries, enjoy creation, and celebrate Father’s Day!

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Come Let us Dance!


Yesterday and today Karl and I, together with our co-worker Mark, enjoyed time down in Kibaale helping to host a team of staff members from another NGO working here in Uganda.  Their organisation, called “Come Let us Dance”, is based in a small town in Colorado, USA.  Here in Uganda, their project includes a new Christian school, Wakiso Christian International Academy, that opened its doors this February.  Their vision is very similar to ours:

“We believe that by empowering at-risk African youth and their communities, we enable a generation of leaders who will rise-up and take the hand of their Africa and dance into a stable, hopeful future.”

The seven teachers and the school nurse  from this school in Wakiso District (south west of Kampala city and about 3 hours from Kibaale) were very eager to learn from our experiences over the last 18 years as Kibaale Community Schools have developed—everything from classroom management and preparing low-cost, effective learning aids with local materials… to biblical integration and  teacher development programs.  Our KCC director, Peter, along with other administrators and teachers shared a lot of valuable ideas with them and encouraged them in their vision.

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They were able to share in the primary school morning assembly and visit  classrooms to observe our teachers and students in action.

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Accompanying these Ugandan teachers were two American teachers with the Association of Christian Schools International and Come Let us Dance.  They are on a short trip to Uganda to help with teacher training workshops as well.

One of the original goals of Kibaale Community Schools was to serve as a model school for others in Uganda, in terms of meeting the needs of underprivileged children through quality Christian education.  We are very happy to share what we have learned through the successes and challenges of the last several years, and to open our doors to teachers and administrators from other schools.  Through networking we are all much stronger, and God blesses unity and cooperation. 

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Timothy Centre Mascot?

The national bird of Uganda is the beautiful crested crane.  We have had a pair of them frequenting the Timothy Centre for several months and often we see them flying over the fields and wetland or foraging for food.  This one is becoming quite accustomed to all the activity here and is not easily spooked.  I am wondering if we should adopt him as our mascot?

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Kingdom Education


Within a week of arriving back in Uganda, I received a call from Annie Crowe who has worked here in the field of Christian education for the past 25 years.  She came to Uganda from the U.K. and worked as a teacher and Christian teacher trainer all over the country. 

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We had met a couple of years ago and she had told me that she felt a few years ago that the Lord had impressed on her that it was time to compile all she had learned through these years of experience in a teacher training manual so others could “carry the torch”.  After a long struggle with the printing and publishing process, her manual entitled “Kingdom Education” was finally ready for distribution this month.  I have been eagerly anticipating this very helpful resource book, as we are busy gathering materials and developing the curriculum for the Diploma in Christian Education we hope to offer at the Timothy Centre next year. 

God’s timing in making this book available for us to use is impeccable! 

Saturday, June 4, 2011


We’re back home in Uganda now… reconnecting with friends and workers, unpacking, planning for workshops, trying to get rid of unwanted rodents who have been making themselves at home in our stove during our absence,

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and enjoying the sunshine and all the lush vegetation that has grown with the abundant rains in the few months we have been away.

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June 2011 053 When we were in Canada, spring weather was very slow in coming at the coast, and we looked forward to warmer temperatures and bright sunshine.  As you can see from these photos of our camping trip in late April, we had very different weather from what we are experiencing now!

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