Last Friday was the best day! Really! In the midst of it, I texted Ryan this message: “Seriously, my favorite day in peace corps! So far…” It was one of those days that made everything so worth it, and once again reminded me that I love being a PCV in Uganda!
It started as a result of the RUMPS (reusable menstrual pads) project that I began at the college last term. I wrote about the first part of that event here – the lifeskills and reproductive health workshops Ryan and I held at the college during second term. Now, it’s third term and we headed into the next section of the project –when the girls would take the information they learned at the workshop out to their primary schools during student teaching to lead health/RUMPS workshops of their own. Coming back from the August holiday, I was hoping hoping hoping that the girls would take it on, but was uncertain how well it would go. At this point, it rested in their hands, and I didn’t know if it would continue or just lose momentum and fizzle. But, take it on they have!!!
I got a call early last week letting me know that the first of the workshops was in the works! Two of my first year girls club members headed up the effort at their school – coordinating with the head teacher and their fellow student teachers, organizing the girls, and getting a room prepared. They told me we would be beginning at 3 pm, and when I arrived at 2:45 they ran to out greet me, hugging me and welcoming me, and letting me know that they had been waiting for me! What?! Yes….I walked into a room full of almost 60 p4 – p7 girls and nine of my PTC ladies, ready to go!
The workshop started with my girls club members teaching a session in local language about the menstrual cycle. It was amazing to sit in the back of the room, and hear them explaining the process, using the same words and explanations that I shared with them during last terms workshops and times in the club. They also allowed for some questions and answers, handling sensitive issues with poise they never would have had six months ago! I was so proud – I just sat in the back of the room and smiled – one proud mama watching her girls all grown up and out on their own! I have watched these girls develop over the last year and it’s hard to describe how incredible it was to see them taking this on and doing such a truly fabulous job!
After the education component, the PTC ladies taught about the benefits of using RUMPS, and taught the girls how to sew their kits into the pads and liners. The primary girls were so excited to get going on the project – they were already talking about teaching their friends, sisters, mamas, and aunties, and I think I made their day when I told them that they would be keeping the pads they made, as well as the needles that came with the kit! During the sewing, my PTC ladies walked around the room helping, talking, and sharing. I overheard more questions being asked, and great, honest answers from the girls I had trained. They really stepped up to the job of mentors, teachers, and friends. I was so, so impressed!
So, the workshop was a really, really huge success! I went to the school planning that at some point I might have to step in and salvage some rough moments, or do most of the teaching on my own, and was absolutely blown away by my girls ability, confidence, accuracy, and utter lack of needing of me! It was exactly what I had hoped would happen as I trained them all a few months ago and I couldn’t have been prouder of their success!
In the midst of conversations with my PTC girls, I also found out that they started their very own girls club on their second day in the primary school! Although they will only be there for four weeks, they have already recruited over 50 young members, and are doing a lot of the activities that we have been working on together the last year or so – tackling issues like leaderships, health, decision making, HIV/AIDS, and communication. Additionally, one of the girls shared with me that they had been using the manual I distributed as part of the training last term as a textbook for teaching in their student teaching classroom. They have already used it for their HIV/AIDS lessons, as well as different health lessons from the curriculum! I was so pleased to see that every one of the nine had their manual in hand, already looking well worn and much used! What a joy to realize that what was prepared for them was being utilized in ways I never could have foreseen!
At the end of the event Evelyne and Charity, two of the girls who had really spearheaded the day, walked me out to the road and proudly flagged me a taxi and negotiated the price for me. They were so excited about the day, so pleased to have shared it with me, and sent me off with greetings for the college and many thanks for the support.
This really was one of my favorite days. It felt like so much of my service – building relationships, seeking out needs and solutions, working to empower the girls at the school – really came full circle. I’ve done my best, but it’s hard to describe the feeling of fulfillment, pride, and achievement that comes from knowing that all the work you put in really is making some small difference here in Uganda! More workshops are in the works now, and I have every hope that they will be as exciting and meaningful as this one! What a joy to be at this place in our service!
We just posted a video blog of parts of this project from last term up to now, and I think it gives a great glimpse of this fantastic project and the way our students have totally stepped up to the plate. You can see it here! Also, I added some pictures from the event to the end of this album on facebook!
Thanks for all of the support and encouragement from home – we truly could not do it without all of the love and prayers!
Love and miss you all,