Posted by: Stephen Palmer | August 4, 2008


Contributed by Eric Dowd

The classes have been moving along wonderfully. The students are all excited about the graduation party that we plan on holding this Saturday.

Here are a few quotes from their finals:

“Given the many in-built benefits embedded in Leadership Education, I’m convinced beyond doubt that this is the most appropriate form of education that can liberate our nation from the present bondage and lead our country to prosperity… Leadership Education seems to held the answers to the problems faced in this country today.” – Katende Semakula David

“Leadership Education is a type of education that puts the learner at the center of his education. In this education, the teacher’s role is to inspire the learner to educated himself.” – Serunjogi Madina

“Once the young generation has acquired [Leadership Education], we shall have a country of statesman and [states]women of integrity.” – Lwanga Kibuka Dorothy

“[Leadership Education] will help…the learners in realizing their potential and enable the [to] contribute and share the acquired knowledge to the benefit of the society…” – Wanambwa G.Z. Ismail

“It is through teachers that Leadership Education [will] reach the young generation. If young people appreciate Leadership Education, then Uganda’s future will be bright.” – Serunjogi Madina

“In Uganda today we have managers and professionals leading in areas they have no training for, such as government, and we get a nation of followers who don’t question anything wrong…because these are the type of leaders [we] know. [We] have no experience with anything else. Hence the need for Leadership Education in Uganda.” – Hajj Kiwannka K. Nasser

“The advantages of Leadership Education are so many that I cannot exhaust them…” – Ojok Ismail

“It may take a generation to throw off the bad habits of teaching, but my humble appeal is let’s get started.” – Zziwa Muhamoud

Click Here To Invest In Ugandan Education

Posted by: Stephen Palmer | August 3, 2008

The Work Continues

Contributed by Suzie Ludlow

Uganda is wonderful and the mission of LEU is growing stronger every day!

Yesterday both our Bweyogerere classes had their simulations. The mock scenario was that they were to present the leadership education they had been receiving to a neighboring school board which had shown interest. One by one they would present and others would take turns as the school board.

My Secondary teachers class for their first time did all right, not as well as I would have hoped. The school board seemed more like the students listening to a repetitive lecture than those interested at all in the speakers comments but they at the end would say they were interested in leadership education. Thankfully with a little coaching and time, the class proceeded to improve with each one. Needless to say, I was a bit hesitant how they would continue.

Aisha, Josephine, Janet, and Rebecca — the loyal four — did such a great job in both presenting and being on the school board, and what trying questions they asked of each other! “How can you implement such a system in our classrooms of one hundred plus students?” “We are not like the American schools that have lots of money, how can we afford to do this?” “These children do not always listen, we even need to cane them so they will.” (Beatings for those who may be sheltered from the fact that such sad things still take place. A child in Jinja actually was killed by canning a month or so ago) “Why are you sharing these things with us? You are paid by the mzungus!” “Will they be feeding us in these classes?” “Why don’t you just give me a book so that I can read it to see if I am interested?” “Leaders? You want us to train political figures?”

There comments were not in the least exaggerated from what a typical Ugandan’s response would be. After each fifteen minute simulation, the presenter (besides Aisha) let out a deep sigh of relief and declared “Suzie that was not easy!” They all did SUCH a good job and defended the principles we had learned together so well! Needless to say I was bursting with happiness at their success.

Our class time actually leaked into their other classes but they all eagerly wanted to remain to finish — Rebecca had someone else take over her class, and since we were using Aisha’s classroom, she had all of her 90 plus students (around 8 to 10 years) sit quietly with their heads on the table to observe until we were finished (Ah- only in Africa!). Can you imagine keeping that many children in one room quiet for at least forty minutes?!

My friends, coming to Uganda has been such a great experience. I cannot begin to describe all of the feelings I have felt and discovered here, for I don’t know if there are such words. Every day is a new experience whether it is while teaching a class, having a mentor meeting, attending church, or simply walking to the market.

Click Here To Invest In Ugandan Education

Posted by: Stephen Palmer | July 26, 2008

Preparing To Hand Over the Reins

Contributed by Eric Dowd

With less than three weeks left for me here, I have been as busy as ever.Our MTA class is the most advanced class that Elise and I have taught, and we have decided that they are ready for more responsibility. We told them to lead the class without us last Wednesday to help prepare them for being on their own after we are gone.

Unknown to them beforehand, I showed up in the middle of the class in order to see what they would be doing. There they were, huddled in their little, three-person group, discussing the meaning of life as Frankl writes about it in his book. It was great; I was so excited! I stayed until the end of the discussion, and we all had a good time.

At BSS things are running smoothly as the students prepare for their oral exams and catch up on missed assignments. They finally have all of their own copies of Tjed and they are so proud to carry the books around everywhere they go.

This past class, the students were placed into two-person teams and asked to run a simulation where they had to present Tjed to a neighboring school in hopes of that school allowing Tjed classes to be taught. Those who were not presenting acted as the school board and asked some tough questions. They were only given ten minutes, but they all did an excellent job.

I am proud to say that the teachers at BSS really have a strong grasp of the principles of Leadership Education.

This week began a new class for me at Little Angles Nursery School (LA). I thought that I was to begin it on Tuesday, but arrived to find out that none of the teachers had any idea what Leadership Education is. Quickly, I had to switch gears from teaching the first class to teaching the most basic ideas in hopes the school would accept the classes.

The timing of this experience was perfect because I then shared it with the teachers running the simulation at BSS and it added a sense of how things such as this happen in real life. Thankfully for everyone involved, the presentation at LA was a success and we held the first actual class on Thursday. The class itself was a little shaky, but I have confidence that they will improve as the teachers become more and more familiar with the material.

Click Here To Invest In Ugandan Education

Posted by: Stephen Palmer | July 18, 2008

Breaking the Cycle of Dependency

Contributed by Suzie Ludlow


Do to a high demand but a small supply, we have been struggling this past month with a lack of books. We have been trying to share the few we have among the different classes at Bweyogerere but somehow they fell permanently into the hands of a few so that the rest did not have access to them. But this past Monday I had the privilege of bringing them each their own copy of A Thomas Jefferson Education. (How interesting that out of all the journeys to the school, it had to be on this day that it was raining quite hard. No need to worry, I wouldn’t let the books come this far to not make it!)

You could not have found a happier set of teachers when they were handed their own personal copy. The secondary class at Bweyogerere (who Laura and I have learned many forms of African dance from due to our rule that if you walk into class late you must dance for the class) were all literally dancing with joy! Thank you all who contributed funds to make this possible and to those who are continuing to do so!


It has been so wonderful to see the change that is already beginning to take place in these teachers and their classes. Moses is very appreciative of the classes and has confessed learning a lot. As he has been applying the principles he has found that he is able to put forth less time and effort while having greater impact. He has discovered that as he has been setting the example by studying while the students come in for class, that they are even more interested in learning their lessons for the day because they see that he is learning too. Also he has tried being more positive with the students. Instead of cutting them down, he commends them for their effort and encourages them to keep trying. He said that this has helped his students very much.

Karim says that now when he and his children come home, he asks them what they learned in school and spends time discussing these lessons with them. The leadership education we are sharing isn’t just affecting the classrooms, but the family bond is strengthened as well! How rewarding this experience has been!

In the second class we held at Bright Future School , I asked the teachers what they wanted for their students. They answered “A bright future- to be independent, to be leaders.” I asked them what type of education their students needed to do this: conveyor belt, professional, or leadership (read A Thomas Jefferson Education for insight on each). In earnest they exclaimed a mixture of all especially leadership. I asked them what type of education they were giving their students. A long pause followed. Almost apologetically Hassefa answered “a conveyor belt.” And in the same breath she added in their defense “we did not know of any other way to teach!”


Oh my friends back in the states, the need here is so great! But it is not the need for more volunteers to help build their homes and schools, or for our government to give them more funding. Although these sacrifices appear to help the Ugandans when viewed merely on the surface or by those who are short sighted, their results cause greater harm than good. Why? Because all of this ‘service’ continues to perpetuate one underlying problem Uganda possesses.

Many officials and people of this wonderful country have informed us of this, we have seen it in the school rooms and through the short comments of strangers as we walk through the streets. The problem is that of dependency.

“Mzungu, give me money!” yelled by all ages of people. “Mzungu, pay for my school” asked by the children. “Mzungu pay me more, you have money.” In our schools, when asked what is the problem with the school system the reply has been “the teachers are not being paid enough.” “We are not allowed enough time to teach each subject.” And the comments continue.

After talking of this dependency the issue of our lack of books for them arose. One teacher declared “We need those books!” and almost in demand asked “When will we get them?” Laura, without hesitation, pointed directly to the word of “Dependence” written on the board after our lecture on Tytler’s Cycle and posed the question, “What type of mindset is that question born from?” A light dawned in that teacher and she understood. Meek came the reply, “Dependency.”

After discussing the 5 environments of mentoring in the Bweyogerere Primary School (tutorial, group discussion, lecture, testing, and coaching) we had a colloquium on The Giving Tree. Oh, I could not help but giggle. Starting off, Aisha read the story to everyone. At the beginning it states “Once there was a tree and she loved a little boy…” Before Aisha could continue, someone asked “Who is she?” She replied, “She is the tree, because she produces fruit.”

Aisha would ask others to read a page, by the end, there was at least three people reading the page at the same time. Their discussion was very heated and hilarious. They began saying how selfish the boy was but then one brought up that perhaps the tree was bad for it was giving too much. I asked them who Uganda was. They all agreed that Uganda is the boy

Janet and Josephine and I had a mentor meeting. Janet was admitting she had not been keeping the goals set previously with Laura. Janet wants to build her own house but complains of not having enough money. Laura had asked her to start a budget. She gave me many reasons why she had not, why bother for she did not have enough money anyways. I went with her step by step listing an average of every expense for the month. Looking at her income of 300,000 shillings a month (about $190) we added up all of her expenses and she ended up having 148,000 shillings left over. Look at all of your money-where is it?! She was very surprised and we set her and also Josephine up with a notebook to list every single thing they purchase for the month.

Great things are happening!

Click Here To Invest In Ugandan Education

Posted by: Errow | July 16, 2008

Looking On the Bright Side…

Contributed by Erin Reynolds

Last week we had a 4th of July dinner and invited some of the teachers over to dinner. One of the Cranes teachers came (Cranes is a school where we teach) and I think I may have mentioned in my last report that we sent him home with the left-overs from our dinner. His school has 323 orphans and never enough food, so he told us when he left that he was going to awaken the students as soon as he arrived (he left here at midnight) so they could eat. We sent him with two chocolate bars, about 2 cups of fruit salad, and about another four cups of whatever other food was left, all jumbled together in one Tupperware: Posho (a corn dish similar to grits), peas, potatoes, and rice.

On Friday he returned the Tupperware and told me that that food (which was from my perspective enough to feed one adult) had been divided between 60 students. I was amazed.

Food prices here have doubled since May due to world-wide food shortages – Uganda has plenty of food, but its neighboring countries do not so the farmers here are selling their crops to those neighboring countries for higher prices, making food scarcer here. This has made feeding all of the orphans every day extremely difficult for this school so they just do what they can.

On Wednesday I visited a member of Parliament who showed me the Ugandan constitution, and also the most recent educational acts. In Uganda, every person has a “Right to education”, so there is “free” mandatory primary education (roughly equivalent to our elementary schools.) The only problem is that the government only pays for the teachers’ salaries; they can’t pay to feed the kids or buy them uniforms (which all kids wear at school) for notebooks or pens. So a lot of parents take their kids to school but refuse to bring food with them (they complain that the government promised them that school would be free and they weren’t planning on paying for anything) so many kids even with parents go hungry.

Also, there used to be provisions to provide food and housing for orphans, but the society is so corrupt that as soon as the government offered that, those in administrative positions signed their OWN kids up for the food and housing meant for the orphans and no orphans were getting food or housing, so the government just gave up on that idea and now there’s nothing provided for the orphans, unless someone takes them in and personally pays for them.

To further complicate things, due to the recent surge in school burnings (one every other day, over the past two months) the government is shutting down schools that don’t have fire extinguishers in every room and other things that are next to impossible to obtain here (fire extinguishers are very expensive and rare; only well-off schools can afford them, and even then certainly not one in every room.) So the poorer schools that are actually helping the orphans are getting shut down, and the orphans are getting passed out onto the street, where child prostitution is common, abuse is rampant, and starvation is imminent. If the children live through that, their future isn’t too bright.

As happens it seems in every decaying civilization, the poorest, least-educated part of the population grows the fastest due to high pregnancy rates; then AIDS increases; more orphans are left on the streets . . . the cycle is perpetuated.

But there is a brighter side. At the Bweyogerere Muslim school where we teach, some of the teachers who have been taking our classes have created a plan to introduce the classics into their school’s curriculum, and have also written a proposal for funding to get a library at their school, full of the classics! In one of the Political Philosophy classes I’m teaching, the students have been studying the Declaration of Independence and thinking about what it would take to help move their society from bondage into liberty.

One of the teachers explained how for five years he’s been traveling to villages to pick up orphans and bring back to his school, but every time he picks a few more up, he leaves more behind, crying to be taken with him, begging not to be left on the streets. He said it breaks his heart every time he has to turn some away, and up until last year his plans included expanding his orphanage every year in hopes that he could help at least a few more orphans.

While short-term he still wants to do that, he has said that since taking the LEU classes he has realized that the root of the problems – corrupt government; poor laws; lack of leaders – will not change unless virtuous leaders get involved. Things are just getting worse because the roots of the problems aren’t being addressed. So he has decided that he’s going to get a liberal arts education and get involved in parliament; he’s going to start writing; he’s going to do everything he can so that he’s prepared to have long-term impact.

Another of the students after taking an LEU class this week said, “I need a DEGREE in this type of education! Is there any school that can help me get a leadership education?” Another teacher told about how after a test he had his entire school come up to the front of the room. He returned the papers of those who scored the highest first; and then those who scored next highest; and so on until he got to those students who scored less than 50%. Normally these students would be beaten and so they began to cry and protest. “But,” the teacher said, “we’ve been discussing how to inspire students, and so I did not beat them! Instead I talked with them one by one about their poor scores and made a plan about how to address each of their problems.”

Lives are changing one by one. Eyes are opening; hearts are expanding; light is entering. There’s a long, long way to go, but in the lives of our students real change is happening.

One last story. Last week in my community class I read a story about some people in a concentration camp and how one man gave his life to save the lives of some others’ in the camp; that one act changed the whole tenor of the camp – people started serving each other; a philosophy discussion group was started; kindness returned where brutality had reigned. I challenged each of the students to consider how they could help change the circumstances around them.

The next week I asked the students how the experiment had gone. One student was eager to share; he explained how he had decided that although he lives on a meager salary himself, he wanted to reach out and help someone in greater need. So he found a young man who had recently had to drop out of school because he was unable to pay school fees (secondary or high school education is not free; it’s actually pretty expensive) and so he talked to the boy and offered to cover the remainder of his school fees so that he can continue his education. This is quite a sacrifice, but will make a world of difference in this boy’s life because virtually no kind of reliable or adequate job is available to someone who doesn’t have at least a secondary education.

I could go on, but that’s what we’re seeing and experiencing. Thank you all again for your generous support in helping me get here, and THANK YOU for your donations for books! I wish you could all see the transformations happening here due to the education taking place, and thanks to your contributions.

Click Here To Invest In Ugandan Education

Posted by: Stephen Palmer | July 9, 2008

Thank You!!

We recently did a fundraiser for LEU among George Wythe College alumni with the goal of raising $1,050, enough to purchase ninety copies of A Thomas Jefferson Education and thirty copies of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

The total numbers have just come in: Thanks to the generosity of our donors we received $1,591 — $541 more than our original goal!

Thanks so much to everyone who contributed! This will go a long way toward increasing the effectiveness of our efforts and impacting Ugandan education, and you have been an integral part of that.

Click Here To Invest In Ugandan Education

Posted by: Errow | July 9, 2008

Remember Herman: A Somber 4th of July In Uganda

Contributed by Erin Reynolds

I hope everyone had a wonderful fourth of July! On Saturday some of the teachers at one of the schools where we teach offered to take our group around to some of the historic sites nearby, so we traveled to Kampala and visited the old palace (which is being renovated and is no longer in use), the burial tombs of past Ugandan Kings, Lake Victoria, and a number of beautiful, old cathedrals.

Visiting the palace was an incredible experience. The palace is surrounded by a tall fence, and then gardens and fields surround it. No one lives there now (it is being renovated), but in times past people were forced to farm for the king and so hundreds of workers would care for the land around the palace. Beneath the palace was a huge lake that the people had built for the King – because he liked to swim. The lake was HUGE! It seemed like the size of seven or eight football fields, and it had all been hand-dug over 100 years ago.

Because the palace was being renovated we couldn’t go inside, and since there weren’t any other buildings we could see (and we weren’t even allowed to approach the palace, we just looked at it from about 100-200 yards away) we were pretty disappointed that we had paid to view the palace. The grounds weren’t even impressive; old cars which the former king had buried so that his enemies couldn’t use them stuck out of the ground; most of the shrubbery had been destroyed in previous wars, etc.

Our guide didn’t speak English (the teachers with us just translated what he said) and after giving us a brief history of the Ugandan Kingdom he headed away from the palace down a hill around a corner. We had no idea where we were going, and thought we were going to see the view of the valley below which we weren’t all that excited about since we’d just come from the valley and there wasn’t much there but city chaos.

As we came around the corner one of the teachers mentioned, “We’re going to the cave.” “What cave?” we asked. During the reign of Idi Amin (the President of about 30 years ago) he built a cave into the side of the hill. The cave was about the size of a semi-truck (it looked like it was the size that a semi-truck could back up to and empty contents from.) We were told that Amin and subsequent presidents hid weapons here, and also prisoners. As we got closer to the cave we could see that along the left-hand side of the cave were five or six large openings that each led to a large cement room. The walls and ceiling were crumbling, covered with bats, and the floor of the main cave was covered in water.

“Do you see what’s written on the wall?” they asked. Once they drew our attention to it, we say that the walls were covered in chalk writing. “What does it say?” we asked. Most of the writing was in Lugandan, so they translated. “Please never forget me! Hamis” “Remember me! Peter” I could only read one, in English. “Please remember (in Lugandan, and then in English) Herman, the boy from (a place I couldn’t read)”.

They explained that before the President’s political prisoners were killed (usually stabbed) they were taken here and held captive for days or months or years. Often their families had no idea where they were, or what had happened to them or if they would ever see them again. The prisoners, knowing they would never see their families again and could be killed any day, would write on the walls, telling their families they loved them and to remember them and what they were fighting for. This was all happening less than fifteen years ago.

It was quite the way to spend the fourth – realizing how tenuous and short-lived (or non-existent) freedom can be. This country has never experienced the freedom that I’ve enjoyed throughout my whole life. Their constitution is only thirty years old, and many of the people have lived through civil war and tribal conflict. Many have never read a book, have never seen their parents or teachers reading a book, and have never heard of any of the world “heroes” or leaders that are commonplace in the US. They do not know their grandparents who died long before they were born, and they will not live to see their grandchildren.

I met with a man this week that is prominent in this community and has accomplished a lot and he said that his accomplishments could be largely attributed to a question that a visitor asked his wife. He and his wife were married with a few children and struggling financially – as is almost everyone here. His wife spent hours making simple mats; it was very tedious and not very profitable labor. He also had a job that he didn’t enjoy that wasn’t nearly enough to support his family. There seemed to be no way out for them.

But one evening this visitor asked his wife, “Do you enjoy your work?” Of course she answered no. “How long will you be doing that?” he asked. And then, “Is this really what you were made to do? Do you want to spend you life doing this?” He asked it in such a way that it really made her think. But what other options did she have?

This man said that he and his wife thought for months about that question. Bit by bit their perspective changed; they started talking about what they loved to do; they started picturing how their lives could be and realizing they could start to slowly change things in how they lived and what they worked for.

After telling me his story, he asked me a question. “You know what Ugandans need? Inspiration. They need to be inspired. Many of them are hungry; they are ill; they are in desperate situations, really. But they will not change until they can catch a vision of something better. It all starts with being inspired.”

I agree with him, and that’s why I have felt that this work LEU is doing is so critical. Our whole focus is to inspire – to inspire those teachers who spend all day, every day with those children, and who are part of the key to inspiring the next generation to take two steps forward, and then the next, and then the next.

So this July everyone remember Herman, the boy from Africa, who lived and died for an idea he never saw realized – freedom; and thank God for the freedoms you experience every day. Thank God that you have more than one shirt and that you actually have some shoes. Thank God that you weren’t born with AIDS, that you have access to medical care, and for the inspiring examples you have seen from your youth. And thank God for the fourth and everything it symbolizes!

Click Here To Invest In Ugandan Education

Posted by: Errow | July 1, 2008

Heroes, Family, & Education

Contributed by Erin Reynolds

First of all, I want to say a big THANK YOU again to everyone who helped us reach our goal of 100 TJ Ed books! You would not believe how excited people are about having their own copy; so many of them are attending every class and doing all of the assignments but having to share a book among 10 people (and still deal with teaching 12 hours a day, with classes of 50-100 students each) is a bit difficult.

Thank you also for helping me be here; we are really seeing the world change before our eyes in a powerful way. I am so glad I am here serving with LEU because I’ve noticed a difference between LEU and some of the NGO or other organizations here that I think is really profound. A number of people here have said, “LEU is different; when the interns leave, things keep changing! We keep thinking and we keep learning and it doesn’t die when you go.

Most of the organizations come for a few months, and then when they leave everyone goes back to doing what they did before. But with LEU things have really changed!” That was so great to here because I’ve seen a lot of problems caused by people who just come and “dump” money into Africa; so, so many problems. So I’m also grateful to have seen an effective way to help the people here as well. Education is such a powerful tool!

Two Powerful Tools For Change

In fact, just the other day I was visiting a member of parliament and his assistant, Hammis. As we were discussing education and LEU’s role here, Hammis said to me, “You know, the two most powerful tools are family and education; you can control a world if you control those two things!” He explained the severe challenges facing both of those things in Uganda. He explained that often parents insist that a teacher beat their student at school because that is how they discipline at home, and they don’t believe that any other form of discipline will work.

Hammis said, “The two things, family and education, must work together, or neither one can change.” We discussed the Tytler cycle and the need for Statesmen with public virtue and he seemed really moved. He is really a Ugandan Statesman. He said that he’s pursuing his MA and he does not get paid for his service with Honorable Fred (or if so, very little) so that he has no money for fees; but he just prays about it and somehow when the time comes to pay his fees, there is money. He is a man with a true vision about how he wants to help Uganda, and he is preparing to have that impact and is already having impact.

Shocking Plays

Suzie and Laura attended a drum and dance contest last weekend with Madina. The theme of the event was “Abuse Awareness.” A number of schools participated and each prepared three or four plays which turned out to be variations on a theme of sexual abuse. For over five hours they watched play after play graphically depicting rape scenes and other abusive scenes (nothing else) and with each one the audience laughed outright, over and over. Everyone was laughing, and these were graphic scenes that anywhere in the U.S. we would be shocked to even hear about. The scenes weren’t depicted in a comical way, but the content was so dramatic and true to (their) lives that I suppose the tragedy of it all has become comical to them.

No “answers” were presented; no recourse was shown to the victims of the abuse. The purpose seemed merely to depict situations that everyone knows about and no one does anything to change – and to advise the “next generation” to change things.

As I sat on the taxi driving to Kampala that morning I watched the hordes of people – those living in squalor, the utter, veritable rawness of life here still strikes me deeply. I saw (and see) so much need. Thousands of people without shoes, without homes, without food, without jobs, without education, crammed into the suburbs of an unconcerned city, subsisting for another day.

I was overcome by the thought of Christ among the masses here, masses who are lost, angry, pain-laden; overcome by their own failures and tortured by the sins of others.

What can be done to help such a society? The words of Tolstoy, I think from Anna Karenina, came to mind, “All happy families are similar; but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way” (or something like that.) A happy people follows certain principles and ideals and experiences freedom, prosperity and hope to the same extent that it follows those ideals.

But third world countries are full of a million, or millions, of tales of rape, pillage, corruption, bribery, deceit, failed families and confused lives. Every person’s story is tragic and unique, and yet they are all the same in that they each bear the tell-tale signs of a people in bondage. It is a mental and emotional bondage primarily; physical only secondarily.

Isaiah says that “where there is no vision, the people perish.” There is little vision here, and figuratively it is difficult to accompany a dying man to his grave; it is also difficult to convince the man with one foot planted in death’s door, the other about to follow – it is difficult to convince that man that if he would only open his eyes he might return to the land of the living. Certainly part of him wants to return. But without the consent and concurrence of his mind and his heart, he will follow his own will into a distant world.

The tragedy has taken on a comic air; the audience has begun to laugh at what it cannot solve or explain; but the children looking expectantly for a hero look first at their parents, then at their teachers, then at their friends and finally at themselves; and without a single hero in their view or in their hearts, they have made an agreement with death almost before their lives are even begun.

The Need For Heroes

Not to be over-dramatic and say that Uganda is on death’s door; but certainly the common tragedies here differ dramatically from those found in a more developed country and death is a much nearer neighbor; the problems they face are very severe. There is little to stop the next generation from committing worse crimes than its fathers when they have no national heroes; no knowledge or examples of public virtue; and they are hungry, angry and empty.

There has never been a Ugandan Washington; they have no equivalent of a Lincoln. No person here has ever stepped up in a way and on a level that all of Uganda was impacted or inspired by his or her actions. And I sense and hear a disbelief that it could ever happen. That is not the African way many of them say.

So these are some of the challenges I see day after day. It would all be too much, too overwhelming, if there weren’t a Sula, a Timothy, a Sembuze, a Hassim, a Michael etc. and all the people in LEU, and all the generous families and donors and supporters back in the US and beyond who believe that things can change, who have hope in the future even when it seems so dark, who refuse to give up when another venture or plan or business fails and they have to start completely over.

So thanks to everyone for your help and support; we couldn’t do it without you! I’m so grateful for your thoughts and prayers and I sincerely believe that LEU and GWC are making a world of difference in people’s lives. We are making an impact on good government worldwide in a real way; and that governmental change is starting in the lives of simple Ugandan’s homes and it is spreading quickly.

I think that it is perhaps impossible to describe the tenor of emotions here; people are anxious about the future; some are excited, some are hopeless, everyone is waiting for change. What happens as we start to teach, and as the students start to read the classics, is that each person becomes a tool for change. THEY start changing themselves, and stop waiting around for others to change.

It has been the experience of a lifetime seeing class after class of students who realize how much they do have control over; we here them talking about their families changing, about their classes changing, about their businesses changing and they start telling us, “Please teach me how to teach these ideas because I need to go back to my village and team THEM what I have learned.”

As I left Hammis’ office he told me, “But do you know? We have never had national heroes . . very few people can look to their parents or teachers or government leaders and say they have been a good example to them . . . But our heroes are coming. They are stepping up today, and our heroes are coming.” I firmly believe that is true! They are coming face-to-face with greatness and greatness is on it’s way here.

Thank you again for all your support back home!

Click Here To Invest In Ugandan Education

Posted by: Stephen Palmer | June 27, 2008

One Man’s Struggle For Education

Contributed by Eric Dowd

In our MTA class we have finished As a Man Thinketh by James Allen. The students have really taken to it. Humphrey says that the idea of thinking positively occupies his mind most of the time. “Has it made a difference?” I asked him last Wednesday. “Oh, yes,” he replied. “My wife likes me more.”

This sounds like a cute little story at first glance until one gets to know a little of the society here. The family structure has become a place where it isn’t uncommon for children and spouses to fear one another. Rape and abuse are fairly common inside the home and the structure isn’t set up to be able to handle it. There are very few (and in many places no) places for abused spouses or children to find help. If a parent is arrested, then the remaining family suffers because of the loss of income. To see loving homes like Humphrey’s is a big deal, especially when one understands that a successful society is based on a strong family unit.

I’m proud of Humphrey and the fact that he has been discussing what he learns in class with his wife. All of the people here are simply amazing.

I had the opportunity to have a mentor meeting with one of the students, Nasser. Nasser, a disabled Muslim, is the headmaster of a school. He was in an accident many years back and is forced to walk with a cane due to a broken bone in his leg that healed incorrectly. He told me a story that I would like to share with all of you.

There was a student at Bweyogerere whose parents died before he could complete S-6 (the last grade of high school). Because he could no longer pay school fees he was kicked out of school. His older sister sent him to work with a shoe maker in Nairobi. The young man wanted to be able to save his earnings so he could go back to school, but the shoe maker treated the school drop-out like a slave. He paid him no money and worked him very long hours.

After a couple of years of this, the young man stole some money from his employer and made his way back home. His sister was furious with him because the man from Nairobi had been sending her money while he was there. To punish him, she treated him like a slave in his own home. He was forced to do nothing but cook, clean, haul water, and anything else she could think of.

The young man did this for some time, thinking all he wanted was to save enough money to go back and finish school. Finally, he ran away again, but he did not know where to go. He had nothing. His clothing was reduced to rags. He had no money and no place to live.

One day, Nasser was visited by a man who he did not recognize. The man was very skinny and looked extremely poor. Once the two spoke for a short while, Nasser remembered the child who had not returned to school one semester. He listened to the story of the shoe maker and how his sister had treated him. At a great sacrifice, Nasser paid the man’s school fees and bought him some new clothes. To help, the man cleaned buildings and cooked meals at Bweyogerere.

He graduated with excellent scores and went on to University where Nasser continued to pay for his school fees. This man obtained a social service degree with one goal in mind. He knew that he owed much to Nasser–more than he could ever repay. He also knew that Nasser was disabled and worked with organizations that help disabled people.

After graduating, he told Nasser that it was time to give something back; it was time to build and fund a school for the deaf at Bweyogerere. Currently this man heads the division for the Department of Education in charge of projects for educating special needs children here in Uganda.

I wish you could have seen Nasser’s smile or the way his eyes shone as he told me this story. I wish you could all visit Bweyogerere and see how happy and excited the deaf children are to have the chance to go to school. These children are considered to be good for nothing by their own families. Most of them live at the school because if they go home their own parents will not feed them.

The need for education here is beyond description and so many of them are ready for it. I cannot begin to tell you how much I look forward to every waking day–to be able to arrive in class with a book in my hands and discuss the masterful teachings of great thinkers from history. Though I have a book, many of our students do not.

Please, please, please, if you have not sent a contribution, do it now. If you have already sent one, thank you, and send another. Be like Nasser. Help educate the ignorant. Help free someone in bondage. Your life will be better for it, I promise.

Click Here To Invest In Ugandan Education

Contributed by Erin Reynolds

There are eight volunteers in our group, four teams of two people each. Each team teaches two or three classes each day, and so we’re staying very busy. Our focus is on training teachers in Leadership Education, but we’re also teaching a couple community classes, one on becoming good citizens and contributing members in family and society, and another on principles of good finance.

Basic elements of “the good life” are missing here. Jasper, one of the contacts we have here who is an entrepreneur and helps us get around town, etc., explained that the traditional family here has four wives. Most of them have never met each other, they only know the other wives exist because it is a “tradition” and they just expect it. But one man’s meager salary (often less than $2 per day) goes to support four separate families.

Married men don’t feel a lot of responsibility towards supporting their families, drunkenness is rampant, and dishonesty is just a way of life. On the radio the other day there were two people having the discussion about whether it was good or not to cheat people if it were done in the “right” way.

So that’s the backdrop of the perspective of the masses here which can be disheartening at times, but the contrast of that compared to the teachers in our classes who are SO excited and sincere about getting a great education is worth all the discouragement of the other examples.

This past week I was telling a group of teachers about Thomas Jefferson and how he had received a “Leadership Education.” I then went on to explain that many of Jefferson’s friends also had this type of education, and they were influential in writing the U.S. Constitution, the oldest written constitution the world has known.

One man’s eyes lit up and he eagerly raised his hand. “Yes?” I said. “I want to know, will we be able to write a constitution like that by the end of this class?” I smiled but before I could reply he said, “I need your assurance that when we finish I will be able to write a constitution like that!” I was a bit taken aback, but it led to a great conversation about how many people it took to write that constitution, and how the people throughout the country ALSO had to understand and support such a document, and how it took years to get that type of education and that the key were virtuous men and women in families, schools, communities, churches–every area of society.

At the end he said, “So this is why I need to talk to all my friends, and we all need to become educated! THEN, maybe in three years we will be able to write that constitution!”

All of the teachers here are SO busy, so overloaded with work. They teach seven days a week, class followed by class followed by class of 50-100 students per class (and in the rural schools that number escalates to 200-300 in one class, with one teacher), and many of them teach in at least two, sometimes three or four schools in order to make enough to get by.

One of these teachers, Samuel Sembuze, teaches at three schools and attends one of our classes; he has experienced such a transformation through studying “Thomas Jefferson Education.” He explained to Ben (the volunteer who teaches him), “When I go to bed at night it is too noisy and I am too tired to study. But then I wake up at midnight and study for one or two hours, then go back to bed, and then I am able to get the reading done!”

I could go on and on, but there will be more to come, and I have so many more amazing stories to tell! I wish everyone could come spend some time in Africa, it changes one’s perspective on everything I think.

Thank you for your support and help from the back home!

Click Here To Invest In Ugandan Education

Older Posts »