Hope, Motivation, and Transformation: My Zozu Experience

With packed bags, enough power bars to last two weeks, and a train ticket to SFO international, I prepared myself for a journey that had been planned only a week before my departure. Inspired, invigorated, and ready to get to work, I drifted across three continents as I made my way to Uganda’s only international airport in Entebbe. With 30 hours of airtime under my belt, I landed in Uganda with acute jet-lag and an increased disdain for turbulence. Luckily for me and my offset circadian rhythm, Pastor John Paul (JP) Sewava — the founder and director of Solid Rock Christian School — was awaiting my arrival outside of immigration. After a night’s sleep that was more of a nap, we left Entebbe and began the 8 hour drive towards the project site in Arua.

What I witnessed in Arua was not only remarkable, but heartwarming and galvanizing. Even after the long, hot walk to and from their homes, the nearly 250 sponsored children were full of vitality and excitement for the school day. That excitement was immediately recognizable as it emanated from child to child. While the days were lengthy, hot, and humid, the children were continually enthusiastic about learning. From 8 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon, students were engaged in their studies, which cover English, mathematics, science, grammar, religion, and debate. Throughout the day, school children empowered each other with group exercises that affirmed every child’s importance as an individual and as a member of the student body. When a child answers a question correctly, the class fervently chants that he or she is the best. The student responds by dancing with joy and letting the class know that he or she is appreciative of the support.

When I was in elementary school, I vividly recall only a small fraction of students participating in class. That problem is nonexistent at Solid Rock as every child makes a point of getting the most out of their education. En masse, students volunteer to express their opinions, write answers on chalkboards, read aloud, and respectfully debate each other in front of the class. The inner-leader is clearly emerging from within each child and that’s something to be excited about.

Yet it wasn’t only the kids that surpassed my expectations. The passionate teachers, administrators, and staff deserve an immense amount of credit for giving 110% of their energy all day, every day. From sunrise to sunset (or later), employees of the school work to make sure the facility is safe, clean, and thriving. Teachers meet with students before and after school to help those that need an extra boost, administrators oversee construction projects and plan the future of Solid Rock’s development, while the staff cooks food, maintains the property, and, amongst other tasks, work persistently on projects crucial to the school’s welfare (i.e. building library shelves and desks for teachers). The passion and drive that the employees exhibit for the students and this school is unmistakable.

But the best is yet to come.

After my two weeks in Arua and the countless conversations with Pastor JP and Principal Passie, their vision for the school’s future had been irrevocably ingrained in my head. Purchasing more land, building a pre-school and a high school, creating additional water tanks, plumbing the school to make flushable toilets possible, installing fans inside of classrooms, increasing solar power generation, and building teacher housing near the school are just a few of the tasks on our action-packed to-do list. As I said my goodbyes, the impact that Zozu has had on the beautiful people at Solid Rock dawned on me and left me hopeful, motivated, and transformed.

Thanks to our amazing sponsors and donors, the driven, hardworking people at Solid Rock Christian School, and those at Zozu who have made all of this possible, this project and the surrounding community continues to thrive.