As we focus on preventing schools from failing, it’s important to celebrate a story currently unfolding. Just a few years ago, St. John’s school was known to locals to be the worst school in the district. Teachers would not put their own children in it, and it was suffering on multiple fronts: teacher absenteeism, structural problems, no food for lunches, and a despondent staff. We’re now seeing something new at St. John’s. With a doubled teaching staff, new ideas for schedules, classes and operations, basic structural improvements and extracurriculars, St. John’s has new spirit. This update is written by Lawrence Ssemakula, head teacher and G.O.D. East Africa cooperative, regarding the end of their term.
Greetings from St. Johns.
I pray all is well with you as you give of yourselves each day to serve our Father and manifest his kingdom. We are soon coming to the end of this term and I wanted to take some time to update you a bit on how things have been in the final weeks.
First of all I would like to thank you all so much for your support and assistance in the work we are doing here and above all. Thank you so much for praying for us.
St. John’s Food Program
Our students have been able to eat twice each week from the 2nd week of September
till the 30th of November, as was our goal. Food has been mainly coming from our Garden and also contributions from parents. We are so happy parents are seeing that they have power to help the kids, when they work together. Agriculture classes started and have been going on for sometime which has helped students to experience some practical moments concerning farming concepts and ideas.
On this note I would like to appreciate you all who are sacrificing a lot to feed the children here. It takes a lot to consider, you have given lots of hours by praying, encouraging us, being here physically and serving the children, and supporting the effort in many ways. You’ve given many hours to teach us and plan to make sure this effort to feed children with sensitivity and guidance of the Holy Spirit—it is unforgettable. Thank you so much for the great love.
When brother Gregg [Garner, CEO and Founder of G.O.D. Int’l] believed that it was possible to feed those hundreds of children and it was time to start, some of us thought may be more time was needed, maybe more prayers — it seemed like the “maybe” was never going to end until what Gregg believed could be true was acknowledged. Now hundreds of children have been fed with food, care and great compassion. Some people from the surrounding villages have said “no, it cannot be.” But many others, including educational officials have said “It’s working, it’s good.”
Teachers showed full participation and excitement for our end of term field day. Even the HM (middle of picture on right) dressed for the occasion and was full of joy.
Teachers have been teaching students utilizing some approaches that are full of fun and encourage participation of children for example a wide variety of games that G.O.D. has helped introduce.
As we end the year we’ve also realized an increase of teacher’s children in the school yet in the past this wasn’t the case. In the past, none of the teachers would put their own kids in the school. Now we have 10 children whose parents teach at St. John’s. I see this as evidence of their belief of the change that is taking place at the school.
There has been more cooperative teaching and more collaborative efforts in different activities and so this made the work manageable. We thank the LORD for this kind of team spirit.
This past weekend we had an end of year event called a sports day and Josephine was the brain behind this event. A sports day here is an event organized by teachers and students for parents to come and see the different talents that their children have. It’s a time when teachers get to interact with parents and compare notes on how things have been going. The theme that Josephine chose for this event was “PROMOTING AFFORDABLE NUTRITION AND REGULAR BODY EXERCISE FOR A HEALTHY BODY AND STRONG MIND.”
All Students were divided into four groups and these groups were given fruit names: Melons, Grapes, Apples, Berries. Normally in schools, teachers name such groups based on animals or politicians but this is not what we wanted. Since our focus was on promoting nutrition for our students we chose to take a different path. Our daughter Quinn helped make these signs!
In their groups they were to compete and be awarded points to determine the winner. Different Games were given to all groups to practice for two weeks. The games included: Boys/Girls soccer, 100m race, Long relays, Chair Dance, Water Bottle filling, Couple race for boys/girls, Wheel Dance, Discover the sweets (from the sand and count them), Dressing up, Burst the balloons, Sack race, Water balloons.etc. Games were categorized into Mental, Physical and fun games.
In this game, students had to arrange words and read words aloud in order to earn points for the group.
Many parents turned up for this day and guests were also invited from other places.
It was the first of its kind ever since St. John’s started and parents,teachers and students were excited for this event.
The chief guest from the Wakiso District education office thanked G.O.D so much for the exceptional love that they have shown the children for the last almost five years now by helping to meet the needs of children and even more recently the Lunch program and helping to transform the school and elevating its status in the area.
We want to thank everyone so much for the prayers and giving all that you’ve been able to give to enable this work progress. Thank you so much for your generosity and love and as we end this year, with faith we look towards next year that God is even going to do greater things in transforming our lives and mind and the lives of the children that we teach.
Love you so much.