Day 2- Our Journey Into Hopeland

Written by Fay Pretty

Hope. My experience of hope before today was the lack of need for it. I 'hope' you get that job. I 'hope' you get that present for Christmas. I 'hope' you pass that exam. There will always be another job, perhaps not as nice, but it will be there. Not getting that present won't physically harm you- however much you really wanted the High School Musical Collection in Blue-Ray, and finally you can always retake that exam or the year. Will it be harder and longer? Yes. But you can and you do have that option. As long as you have tried you best why do you need hope?

     Today I have found that without Hopeland Junior School, a place that generates hope and belief, the world would be a much poorer place. Valence, the founder and CEO of Youth Focus Africa Foundation and our lovely host, started Hopeland Junior School before adding a High School and Small Loans Program. This was possible through a lot of passion, hard work and sponsorship. Now 85 kids are sponsored in a school of 200.

     However it isn't just sponsorship that helps the pupils but the Small Loans Program allows Women to borrow money and give it back at the end of the week and use it on enterprises. This allows a whole family to be raised financially, which is more viable than each child in an average family of seven to be sponsored.

     Hopeland Junior School was amazing. Arriving we were tackled, rushed at and unconditionally loved. They stroke our blue veins under our white skin and marvel and play with our long hair. We are given a tour where we learn that the teachers live on school grounds because otherwise they wouldn't be able to get there on time. Their days are really long. Both teachers ad students are up before seven to collect water and do morning chores before the older children start school at seven-thirty and the younger kids start at eight (often walking up to five miles to school). They will then finish at five before going home to do more chores and to finish at nine when it's dark without electricity so they can't do their homework. Which is why many stay even later and finish their chores quite late.

     However they loved their studies Often maths or cultural studies being their favorite classes. These pupils are amazingly clever, knowing on average of three languages or more (Ugandan, English and often a local tribal one) and getting the top results for their end of school exams- being in the top 15% of the country. Which is very very unusual for the majority of the schools in the area. Although it really makes us question what you really need to learn well. Do you need comfortable chairs and tables? Do you need nets on hoops or football posts? Do you even need modern toilets? Or perhaps all you really need to learn is the right resources (teachers) and the will to learn.

     When I'm watching them welcome us through traditional stories, music, drama and dance whilst also tell us important messages about child abuse in Uganda and how they are campaigning for it to stop I realize how much hope they have in their country and each other. The teachers have so much hope and belief in the students, which gives them to ability to hope for themselves. To be able say when I ask- I want to be a nurse or doctor or surgeon or lawyer or teacher or any thing they could think of. Their hope fuels a school to be better today and a nation to be better tomorrow. 

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