Note: In East Africa, school children are taught English, and English remains the language of choice in most educated discussions, and even the link between individuals from different tribes, cities, or countries. English isn't just demanded for participation with our community, but even the community of East Africa. It is commonplace. Still, both English and Luganda are used in the classroom at the Institute for G.O.D. East Africa. While we are actively learning languages native to East Africa, those who haven't learned English are also actively learning it. Our hope is to each understand each other in our native tongues.
This past February, Stefanie Price was asked to prepare a project for her upcoming immersion trip to East Africa. What came of the assignment is a now thriving literacy project, Project LITE (Literacy in Technology Education), responsible for the improving English skills of two Ugandan men. Tom and Simon Peter are members of the community in East Africa and full-time employees of our organization, developing skills in building and gardening, and an education in God's Word. Due to situations of poverty, both men had to drop out of school before completing even an elementary education.
The project is currently in its third phase, implementing and monitoring, which began in June while Price was in the country, and will continue through next December. Price creates weekly literacy curriculum for each of the men, specific to their current language-learning needs, with content relevant to their experiences in the world. Twice a week for two-hour sessions, Tom and Simon Peter gather with their teacher and friend, Andrew, to practice reading, writing and speaking English. While Saturday sessions are spent doing exercises, Sunday sessions are spent serving their neighbors, in English of course. One evening, the men read bedtime stories to their neighbors’ children. Another time, they wrote encouragement notes to the new students at their school. Soon, they are going to be visiting the local primary school, St. John’s, where many of their classmates teach. They will be sharing about their own challenges with learning and speaking English, and encouraging the children to work hard in school.
The whole community there has been challenging the men to use their English as often as possible, and the improvements they’ve made, though not complete, are impressive. Before this project, Tom and Simon Peter felt alienated from the rest of the group, as everyone else in their community can speak English, and from the community here, as they didn’t know anyone as well. Now, they are gaining confidence, feeling more part of the community, and what we’re doing together. They are being responsible, experiencing purpose, thinking critically about the things around them, reflecting and speaking.
For Price, the reward has been in seeing them excel. This project is now more than about language learning. It’s about giving people who couldn’t speaking the ability to speak, helping them find a voice, participating in the activity of Jesus.