Blog

The Year 2065

Oftentimes when we are moved to help people who are victims of struggling and suffering, it’s because of an eye-opening experience. A photo or video strikes out, or we read an article, and the abhorrent conditions ignite a previously dormant spark of compassion. But those abhorrent conditions, so shocking to the new eye, are the day-to-day experience of those who live in them. Long after the picture fades from our memories, that child is still living in that hut. That mom is still working that farm. That baby still has those flies swarming around its lashes.

Poverty is more than just lacking food for today. It’s your family lacking food for two generations. Your father has never known the dignity of stable work. Your mother has never had the security of a loving husband. You’ve never been expected to finish school. What does it feel like to live like this? How can we possibly develop the empathy necessary to love from so far away?

Immersing in their culture is a powerful gateway to experience a bit of what the poor experience every day. Yes, the students we serve are up against material poverty. But the hardest obstacle is not a poverty of things, but a poverty of hope.  This is a poem by Ugandan poet Peter Kagayi, and in it he unpacks what the poverty of hope feels like in an erudite, eloquent, and challenging way. He, a native of poor Uganda, imagines what life will be like in 2065, roughly 50 years from now. It’s not an easy read, but then again, neither is the life of the poor easy.

In 2065

Nothing will have changed that much,

Except I will be over 70 years

The roads will be the same

The politics will be the same

Kampala [the capital city] will be the same

In 2065 nothing will have changed that much,

Except I will be over 70 years

 

And I will go to Mulago [hospital] to cure my rheumatism

And the doctors will say there is no cure

And the boda- boda [motorcycle taxi] man at the stage

Will recommend to me a West-Nile witch doctor

And I will go to my grandson’s school like my grand-father did

And I will be turned away, for old age will be something forbidden.

 

The president will be the president we have today,

And in a wheel chair he will give the Nation Address

Only his son, then a field Marshall, will read it on his behalf

And he will talk on his behalf

And he will rule on his behalf

In 2065, nothing will have changed that much,

Except I will be over 70 years.

 

And Makerere [the university] will be on strike and Major- General ‘Something’

Will order open-fire on the students

Because their demand for fried beans

Will be a threat to the security of the State.

And U.R.A [political party] will be taxing the air we breathe,

The many times couples kiss,

The fart we excrete,

The words we speak

And the way we die

And will determine those who go to heaven

And those to hell

And tax their corpses differently

 

In 2065 nothing will have changed that much,

Except I will be over 70 years,

 

And teachers will be begging on the streets to feed their families

Their wives will sleep with tourists to make a decent living

The syllabus will be the same shadow of what colonialists left behind

With systems too archaic and too alien to offer anything essential

And the students will remain cabbages and potatoes

And the ratio of the jobless to the job-hopeful

Will remain nine to one

And like that life will move on,

And like that nothing will change.

 

In 2065 children of eight will be using contraceptives

Children of eight will be going to night clubs

In 2065 children will not be children

They will be eating fellow children for breakfast and for break at school

And they will not wash their hands and will offer you a hand-shake.

 

And we will be the people in that future

Built from a present that promises not much

Except ageing

We will be there hoping to die soon.

 

It breaks our hearts that this is the mindset that many of these students grow up in. Poverty is hopelessness, but thriving is hope. This is what we stand against with every child that is welcomed into Solid Rock and every dollar that is raised. We stand against hopelessness. Yes, the children and families we serve can use a new bed or a bag of beans, but more than that they need hope. Stumbling, imperfect though we are, we want to be a participant in ending hopelessness.

“…if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday” Isaiah 85:10.

Our sacrifice of money or time or prayers can, and does, create hope. The encouragement of a teacher builds hope in each student that they really can graduate. Education for children builds hope in each mother, that one day their child will be able to provide for their own family. Our dream is that in 2065 the students who graduate from Solid Rock will be 55 and still be able to say “I have a full life ahead of me.” Most of all, it will be them who will look around and say “how can I bring hope where there is none?” If poverty is believing that in 2065 nothing will have changed, thriving is believing that the best is always yet to come.

 

 


The Sacrifices of Service… Stories of the Solid Rock Teachers

 Teacher Sunday grew up in the Arua district, not far from Solid Rock Christian School, with a love of dancing, serving the Lord, and playing games with children. She dreamed of a profession and a calling where she could shepherd and mentor children in a meaningful way, so Sunday went to a local teacher’s college and pursued becoming a lower primary teacher. Along the way she met her husband, got married, and at 24 found herself living at home as he went to work. As she says: “At first I was staying at home but praying to get a school that will make me a role model in the community and teach me how to develop a child socially, physically, spiritually, and mentally.” She knew that she was meant for more, and had more to learn, but didn’t know where to look. Then, Sunday got wind of a new school opening up for the poorest children in her community, started by a local church. She decided to apply, and was one of the first teachers hired when Solid Rock opened in 2015. This is now her fourth year at the school, and over the last three and a half years she has grown into the Senior Women’s Teacher, the Class Teacher for 1st grade leading the other two 1st grade teachers, and the Sanitation Coach for the students. As she says “It is now my fourth year since I started working.  I enjoy the services I am offering to the children and also enjoy the services given to me.” 

Every day, Teacher Sunday gets up at around 5, before dawn, so that she can make it to class on time. She walks over a mile to get to school and often arrives tired. After teaching all day, she then has to walk back home along the dusty road. It takes away time from grading papers, spending time after class with her students that need it, and getting to spend time to recharge with her husband Philip. Time management is a struggle for her, but she’s committed to continuing to serve these kids despite the challenge.

 

Teacher Jimmy also grew up in the same tribe as many of the students. He studied at the local teacher’s college, and also gained a certificate as a Peer Instructor in Computers. Says Jimmy- “I started working with solid rock Christian school immediately after completing my studies at the college. But before that I had been praying to be teaching in a school that will also develop me spiritually so after learning about Solid Rock Christian School being under a church (Arua Community Church), I had to join the School and as for now I feel am in the right place and I really enjoy the service provided to me and I feel free to work with the children under such environment.

   Every day, Teacher Jimmy also gets up before dawn. He’s one of the lucky ones who has a motorcycle to use to get to school, but fuel prices are skyrocketing, so he has to be careful in how much he rides. He frequently stays later to play football with the kids, or help set up for Sunday school that weekend. Like fuel prices, rent prices are also rising with the influx of middle- and upper-class South Sudanese who are fleeing their country. Closer housing provided by the school will make a huge impact on his ability to mentor his students and be present with them.

 

 

 

Teacher Godfrey in one room of his two-room house.

Teacher Godfrey never thought he would be a teacher. He thought he was cut out to be a lawyer. But after completing his education, he found that the kind of mentorship and leadership that teaching would give him the opportunity to do was what he was really called to. Like his father and grandfather before him, Godfrey became a teacher. He is also married, with two daughters of his own, but for the last two years, he has not lived with them. Rather, like many working professionals in Uganda, he has come to teach at Solid Rock on his own, until a suitable housing situation can be found for his family. As of talking to him last, he hadn’t seen them in three months. Every day he gets up before dawn, prays for the day, put on one of his four shirts, and goes to school. As an upper primary teacher, he often stays until about 6 or even 7 at night, teaching the children who need extra help to prepare for their first exams this November.

     These teachers have never had a Teacher Appreciation Week. There’s no PTA planning a luncheon for them, nothing like that. But WE haven’t forgotten their hard work. We see it, and we want to honor them.

For those of you who have already contributed to the Teacher Housing Fund, THANK YOU! If you want to appreciate these teachers and help them as they serve these students, you can…..

Write an encouraging letter to a Solid Rock Teacher here 

Contribute to the Teacher Housing Fund here!

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