Wednesday, October 24, 2012

People in the Mist...

We held a fundraiser on October 20th at the home of Dr. Fred and Sarah Kass in Mission Canyon. A nice size group of people gathered to enjoy wine donated by Dr. George Primbs and delicious food prepared by chef Harold Welch of World Cuisine. Many items from Uganda were available for purchase with all proceeds benefitting Turn the Page Uganda in the hopes of earning enough funds to support more schools. A Powerpoint presentation was given as a light mist fell down, creating a very intimate setting. We discussed the culture of Uganda, the systems that are in place to help the Country and identifed some of the daily struggles that are faced by the families who work diligently to provide for their children. By the close of the evening we had earned enough money to support another four schools! If only I would remember to put someone else in charge of taking photographs for our events, I would have more photos to share with you... I get so busy that I only take a few and then I forget to take any other shots later on. So, I'll need to improve on that for the future!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Checking in From Africa

"If I come to America, will my skin turn white like yours?" That was the shy question asked of me the other day by a sweet girl in a P4 class in one of the schools I was visiting. My answer... "only if mine will turn black when I come to Uganda. Let's see if it does." We rubbed our arms together, but they remained the same as before. Her classmates laughed and I said, you are still just as beautiful as before. The children want to know everything about American children. Do they wear uniforms? Do they eat the same food? What do they study?

Visiting children in the classes has been the highlight of my travel through Uganda. Though the roads have been rough and muddy due to the hard rains, and the red dirt is often on my skirt and sandals, driving into the actual schoolyard brings a chorus of shouting children running to greet the van. A muzungu (white person) is often seldom seen and quite a sight to behold. Welcome songs are sung in class, girls curtsy and boys shake hands. The headmaster has a guest book for us to sign. Some schools have performances with drumming and Ugandan tribal dancing as well.

I am happy to report that our books are being used in the schools we have supported. In some schools they have even tracked student progress from year to year and can link an improvement in student progress this last year to the implementation of our books. Now that is exciting! Having resources in the schools is actually making a difference in the rate of student achievement in these schools. In every case the schools I visited asked, if possible, could I get them more books. They were so appreciative, but are struggling with absolutely enormous class sizes- some as large as 100. I had to tell them that I must help those that have not yet received the books before we allow schools to receive a second helping. They were of course sad, but understood. So the need is great! PLEASE CONSIDER MAKING A DONATION TODAY !

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Summer Adventures...

Vicky will be heading to Uganda this summer to visit 5 areas- Kampala, Busia, Soroti, Lira, & Gulu. She will be meeting with the wonderful people who assist in the bookstore and help to ship the books up to the various locations in Northern Uganda. While in the various cities, she plans to visit schools in which Turn the Page has placed books and see how the program is working. A few visits with local Education Officials are also arranged and should provide great vision for future endeavors. We will post some photos to let you know how the visit went upon her return.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

About Us
Who Are We? Turn the Page Uganda is the brainchild of Vicky Harbison, an elementary school teacher with a passion for reading, travel, and children. In the summer of 2010 Vicky visited northern Uganda and toured a number of schools, meeting with teachers and students. She discovered a great need for books, both reference and text.

Mission Statement: Turn the Page Uganda, a non-governmental non-profit organization, provides books to northern Ugandan schools that show an interest in receiving resources for their students. Books will be purchased in Uganda, helping the local economy and ensuring that books are those needed by the schools. 

Board Members: Vicky recruited a number of friends and acquaintances to form this group dedicated to putting books into Northern Ugandan classrooms (Pre-school through high school). The Board is composed of teachers, a counselor, librarians, and a media consultant. Many of us have experience traveling in Africa as well as work on various charitable Boards. 

Partners: Currently we are partnering with Aristoc Bookstore in Kampala, Uganda and a representative of the Rotary Club, also in Kampala. Individual members of local churches are helping us in our delivery of books to the remote schools. 

Administration and Fundraising: Turn the Page Uganda has no paid staff so that all monies raised go directly to purchasing and delivering books to schools. Only a small percentage of the money we raise goes to printing, mailings, and other administrative expenses.

What do we do? Turn the Page Uganda purchases books for schools in northern Uganda. We support public and private schools, from kindergarten through high school and work with school administrators and teachers to determine what books would be most beneficial. So far we have brought books into 17 schools in Lira, Gulu, and Soroti. 

How do we do it? Evaluation: Turn the Page Uganda Board members plan visits to Uganda, always at personal expense and visit schools to find candidates for our work. We also work with people we trust who live in northern Uganda and they recommend schools to us. Schools fill in a book request form and books are purchased at Aristoc Bookstore in Kampala. Gifts to a school usually total $500. 

Project implementation: Once a school has been chosen our Rotary liaison turns in their request to Aristoc Bookstore in Kampala and purchases the books using the Turn the Page Uganda account. We have contacts who transport the books to the schools. By purchasing books in Uganda we help the local economy, do not waste funds on postage/shipping, and we ensure the books match the Ugandan State-approved curriculum. 

Why Uganda? Northern Uganda is a war-ravaged region having experienced a decades-long war. The conflict, one of Africa's longest running, has resulted in a severe humanitarian crisis. The LRA is accused of widespread human rights violations including mutilation, torture, rape, the abduction of civilians, and the use of child soldiers. A 2005 poll of humanitarian professionals, media personalities, academics and activists identified the conflict in the north of Uganda as the second worst "forgotten" humanitarian emergency in the world.
When these children return to their villages and attend school they have up to 70 students in each classroom with no books. At Turn the Page Uganda we are convinced that if we can get books into the hands of the teachers and students in this region we can help to create more educated and more successful citizens who will become effective leaders for Uganda's future. 

How much does it cost? We allot $500 per school for purchase of books.

How can I donate? You can make a donation to Turn the Page Uganda by clicking here.