One of the dreams of the Daughters of Mary and Joseph in Uganda came true in recent weeks – the opening of a new school – Coloma Primary School. The school has begun with three classes – first, second and third and to date 65 pupils have been registered.
Sr Eillen with Sr Mona and friends at new Roscrea Classroom in Uganda
In December 2009 Kathleen and Tim Maher of Annegrove visited Uganda and saw Coloma Primary School as it was then. The classrooms were built but stood empty of desks, chairs and furnishing of any kind. The people of Roscrea have always been very generous and supportive of our educational projects in Uganda and once again took up the task of furnishing the room for first class. This is now called ROSCREA ROOM
A lorry arrives with the new furniture for the Roscrea classroom
We thank all those who organised, contributed to and supported the raffle held in the Credit Union in December towards providing support for the purchase of the furniture. We thank also the Manager and staff of the Credit Union for offering the facilities for this raffle to take place. It was an outstanding success and overall the fund for the furniture reached over Euro 2,500. What a credit to the people of Roscrea and an honour to be associated with. The money surpassed all our expectations and so we have not only been able to furnish first class room but also have managed to get 40 chairs, 16 tables, a cupboard and bookshelf for the second class room. We are very grateful to you all. As you can imagine there was great excitement as the furniture arrived at the school.
At the moment there are 32 pupils in 1st class, 18 in 2nd and 15 in 3rd and the school is in full swing. Uganda has many orphans due to the Aids epidemic in the country so we are caring for 24 orphans or children from vulnerable homes. Most of these children have been cared for by grandmothers who are old and with little or no support for the children. We have accepted them into the school and are provided totally for them – mattress, blanket, bedsheets, basin, cup, plate, uniform, scholastic materials etc together with their fees and maintenance. These children are a special concern for us and we hope to extend our orphans programme as our sponsorship increases.
Students enjoying their new surroundings in the Roscrea Classroom
Boarding schools are essential in Uganda where distances are so great. Normally after school children have to take care of goats and sheep, collect firewood, cook supper and look after a baby. With no light study is impossible for day students. This may sound strange in Ireland but parents really want to put their children in boarding school from a young age where they will get a good solid and basic foundation in education. It is truly amazing to see 5 to 8 year olds bathing themselves, making their beds and washing their uniform and clothes – all be hand. However they do also have plenty of time for play and enjoying themselves.
At such a tender age there is much need of care and mothering of these children so a high number of staff, teaching and non-teaching staff are employed – matrons, cooks, school nurse, compound caretakers and watchmen. Compared to Ireland the diet is very dull, maize and beans for lunch and supper for 5 days, with rice or bananas with beans for the other 2 days. For a treat every Sunday morning the children each get a boiled egg and once a term they will get meat. Yet on this diet the children are healthy and happy.
Being a boarding school gives great opportunity for extra curricular activities – sports, music and craft are already well established. Parents and visitors are welcome at any time and can join in the fun and learning of the school. We intend to make Coloma Primary School a school which the people of Roscrea can be proud of having had a hand in its very beginnings. It is even our wish and our hope to join in partnership and set up a network between the children and teachers of Roscrea and those of Coloma.
On behalf of the administration, staff and students of Coloma Primary School thank you very much for your support and may God bless you and your families.