Posted by: Errow | June 25, 2008

“Will we be able to write a constitution like that?”

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!

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