It is 5am on the 11th of March, and we are set to spend the long-awaited albeit unique Drop Everything And Read (DEAR) day with the little children of Bugweri District. I am penning the details of the day just so that I can share them with you.
An enjuba team of 6 started their journey from the capital city, Kampala to eastern Uganda, into a community called Busesa, about 20 Kilometres away from Iganga town. On arrival, we were received with huge welcoming smiles by our hosts of the day - the team from Busesa Community library. This Library is one of the programs of the Kitakule Foundation.
The Programs Director of Busesa Community Library, Stephen Sooka took the lead, introduced his team and showed us around. I could not help but appreciate the effort and progress Kitakule Foundation has put towards investing in the literacy, health and wellbeing of the community. In addition to their beautiful community library, they have established a community health centre where mothers and expecting women can access affordable and good medical care.
At around 9.30 am, a few children and parents started to stream in one by one. By 10 am, the majority of them had arrived. The program began with introductions of all stakeholders including the various teams from enjuba, Busesa Community Library and the Rotary Club of Kampala South - one among the many groups of people that raised funds for the books that we took to Busesa. One of the members of enjuba, William Mukisa went ahead to explain what DEAR day is all about and why we were spending this important day with them. We then separated the children from the parents to get onto the fun part of the day.
With a lot of enthusiasm, the little ones quickly ran to the different small groups created. One could easily see that the children could not wait to be part of what we had in stock for them. The children's groups were according to their age and grade level, and each group participated in exciting reading activities. These activities included; read-aloud sessions, bingo and spelling. After the read-aloud sessions, every child was given a book of their own that they could continue to read at home and share with their friends.
As the children enjoyed the reading activities, the parents were gathered in a group conversation about their children’s discipline and excellence at school. At the end of the Parent’s Talk, parenting books (Parenting with Love) and Health books (Where there is no Doctor) were given to the parents.
In total, 195 books were given into the hands of both children and parents, and 705 children’s books were added to Busesa Community Library. It was found that 73% of the children present had never owned a single storybook in their life before the reading day. Thanks to our donors, these children received their first storybook!
By the end of the day, we could not get enough talk about the new words the children had learnt and the beautiful stories that were shared. We were glad that we could still experience DEAR day with them even though most of the children from kindergarten to Primary 5 are still out of school.