Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Meet Christine!

This is Christine!

Among Vision of Destiny's students, Christine is the closest to finishing high school!  She's going to be finishing in November!

Christine is a total orphan and lives with her older sister and her sister's husband.

Christine joined Vision of Destiny about three years ago when she and her family were struggling to pay school fees.  She is attending a Christian boarding school.  She will be sitting her final exams for high school (A levels) in November.  These exams are extremely important to students here in Uganda. They determine if and where a student will attend university.  They also help to determine which course a student will study while at university.

Christine hopes to pass her exams well and to attend university studying environmental sciences.

Pray for Christine as she is taking her exams.  Pray that she will have peace, remember everything that she has studied, and that she will pass well.

Pray that Christine will be able to attend the university of her choice and that she will be able to fulfill her dreams of studying environmental sciences.

Also, thank God for Christine's sponsor who has made it possible for Christine to finish high school.  So many girls in Uganda don't make it past primary school and those that do frequently drop out.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Meet Siifa!

At the beginning of the year I sent out an email to begin introducing everyone to the kids that are part of the VOD sponsorship program.  I got a really positive response on it with many telling me to keep sending them out.  I had every intention of doing so.

However, I was not prepared for life with a newborn!  I think I thought that she'd just conform to my schedule.  You know just lay there on the bed next to me while I did my work!  Total shock that she had a mind of her own and wanted nothing to do with laying around.....  So, she's now approaching a year old and a little more independent, at least to the point that I can snatch a few minutes here and there to send out an email (or post on this blog).  At least until baby #2 makes her arrival.  

Hopefully, I'll be able to do this once or twice a month so that everyone can begin to get to know some of the kids that are part of the VOD sponsorship program.

Today, meet Siifa!
Siifa was one of the first students to be sponsored by VOD when I came back in 2008.  She is a total orphan, having lost both parents to AIDS.  She lives with an elderly grandmother in the slum where we work.  Her grandmother weaves mats to sell to earn a living.  They live in a simple mud house in the slum with no running water or electricity.  

Siifa loves playing games, dancing and singing.  I don't think I've ever seen her without a smile on her face!  And she's super helpful, always willing to pitch in to help with any task.

She loves attending school and is thankful to her sponsor for making that possible!  She is in Primary 3 (similar to 3rd grade) in one of the local schools.  She's unsure of her birthday but appears to be around 12.

Please remember to pray for Siifa as she comes to mind.  

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Decision to Homeschool

We are now a homeschooling family!  Never thought I'd be saying that!

I've known several families over the years in the U.S. that homeschooled.  I always thought I could never do that!  I'm not usually a person who likes staying home all day.  I like being out, around people, busy.  To me it looked boring to sit at home with kids all day.

When my husband and I got married, we knew several missionary families who were homeschooling as well as some Ugandan families who were doing it.  But, we agreed that it wasn't for us......  One of our worries was that the kids wouldn't get enough chance to socialize......  Remember, they'd just be sitting home all day.

Never say never!  In the last couple of years we've been introduced to several kids who have homeschooled their entire educational career.  And they were amazing kids!  Young ladies that were very social, extremely confident and well adjusted, knew who they were, and going on to be successful.  A young man that has traveled all over the world with his parents.  We were amazed at his ability to play with the kids and the next hour be sitting with the adults having a mature conversation!  He even shared a room with my two kiddos on a trip out of town (when they were still young and peeing in the bed).  He never complained.  

A year or so later, the conversation began coming up about homeschool and the subject also had our kids' names in the same conversation!  The largest reason was Yosam.  His behavior at school was atrocious.  He was getting into fights, unable to concentrate, basically he was going to school each day to play and have as much fun as he could.  Learning wasn't in any thought that crossed his mind.  His reading scores for the first term were below passing and second term just 39%.  My child was failing to learn to read.  He's 7 years old and in kindergarten.  Also, his speech was a concern.  We were understanding very little of what he said.  I could continue with the list, but I'm sure you get the point.

Something had to be done.  Something had to change.  He's got to learn to read.  Homeschooling began to look like an option.  I began to research it more.  Ask more questions of friends that are already doing it.  Looking at different curriculums.  It seemed like such a fit for him!

So, we thought we'll be beginning homeschool for him in 2013 when the new school year here started.  But, then we kept thinking...... Why leave him in school another term just to fail?  Why not let him start learning now?  Also, why not put him on the same school calendar as the international schools?  And what if we ever wanted to travel as a family to the states for the summer?  Wouldn't it be easier if that was the kids' summer break as well?

So, then there's the question of what about Jackie?  I didn't really think she'd want to homeschool.  She's such a social butteryfly.  She was doing fine in school and loved being around her friends.  However, we figured that if we were going to homeschool one, we might as jump all the way in and homeschool both.  

When I brought it up to the kids, their reactions were totally opposite of what I thought.  Jackie was excited!  I had forgotten that I had taught her in K3 and we were having class in the sitting room of my flat.  So, it was natural to her that I should be her teacher.  Yosam was a little more uncertain but tends to follow Jackie's lead.  When she began listing all the benefits she could think of: not having to eat posho and beans every day for lunch, not having to get up so early in the morning to get to school in time, more time to play outside in the afternoons because they wouldn't be having to wait for a ride home, etc., he also was thrilled.  More time to play and more time for cartoons!  Sounded good to him!

So, how's it going?  We're halfway through the first quarter and we're all loving it!!!!!  Yosam is starting to read on his own!  He read a short phonics story this morning BY HIMSELF!!!!  That was huge.  His behavior is way over the top improved.  And while I thought Jackie was doing well in school, I've found some holes in her reading ability that we've been able to work on.  

Plus I get to spend a lot more time with them.  That's been fun!  We get to read stories together and talk more.  It's been great for me to have more one on one time with Yosam.  And Jurnee thinks it's great too!  She didn't have to watch as the big kids went back to school and left her home!