Message from John Wanda December 17, 2009
There are less than two weeks to the end of the year 2009. As I write this note, the children in Uganda are out of school, home for their long holidays. Uganda schools close for two months at this time, allowing the children a break to enjoy time with their families. This has been a special year for AAH and the community in Uganda. It is a year where the partnership between the U.S., the Uganda government, the school and the local community has blossomed.
We began the year with a grant from USAID that enabled us to send more than 60 students to secondary school. USAID increased that support later in the year, enabling us to provide school supplies and teacher training to more than 10,000 others at local primary schools. Such generous support allowed us to extend our outreach programs to the four districts in eastern Uganda – Bududa, Manafwa, Mbale and Sironko. And our donors in the U.S. have continued to support us generously, ensuring that all 325 students at AAH are well supported and that our clinics continue to provide medical treatment to thousands more.
In Uganda, the government and the community have done their part to make this a true partnership. Just a week ago, the local government sent a grader and a team of engineers to make a road to the school, ending many years of uncertain transportation from the local trading center to the school. For the first time ever, there will now be a true road that links the school to the outside world, a road that the locals have already christened “Arlington Boulevard.
” Earlier this year, the government provided 30 chickens to the AAH school farm as an example of solidarity and support for our efforts. The students’ parents and other villagers have also taken many initiatives to support the school – by planting trees around the school, supporting the students at home, but above all by pledging to help build a house for teachers at the school. Such commitment from the parents shows how much they value what they have today. They know that AAH is a precious resource for their community, and they are doing their best to preserve it.
Our biggest challenge this year came at the very end of the school year. Two weeks ago, AAH began the admission process for the new P1 (1st grade) class in 2010. Within a week, they had received 400 applications for the 40 places available. It is one of the toughest decisions for the administrators at the school to deny 90% of the children a place at the school. One day we are sure that we shall have the resources to admit every child in this community who desires an excellent education. Unfortunately that day has not yet arrived. Your support and contributions have helped build a wonderful program that so many now seek, and we ask that you continue supporting us so we can grow and open our doors to more of these applicants who are now being turned away.
Thank you for your continuing support, and please have a great holiday season. Sincerely, John Wanda Founder, Arlington Academy of Hope