Updated: May 21
By all accounts, the first graduation ceremony at Solid Rock Christian School surpassed expectations. The crowd that gathered was immense and dressed in their finest frocks.
Upon returning, two eyewitnesses of the ceremony– Mick Lebens, one of Zozu’s founding team, and Katy Griffin, a missions pastor from a church in California–recalled the aspects that were the most memorable to them.
Mick’s list first:
“There was so much to it, but if I had to name five things, here’s what stood out to me the most.
1. Pride– the graduates had immense pride. Not that pride that we’re taught to guard against, but that healthy pride where hard work was put into an opportunity and success was the result. Make no mistake, each and everyone of the 32 children gave credit where credit was due (to our Father above) but they all knew that they had succeeded in the opportunity that had been given to them.
2. Joy– I’m not sure if I have ever seen so much smiling in my life. The children were elated in a way that I think only comes after spending 10 hours a day in school 5 days a week and then at least half days on Saturdays and sometimes Sundays for the past two years.
3. Contentment– there was Kampala peaceful contentment on the faces of the teachers that have worked tirelessly over that same time period to prepare these kids. They seemed to be content in a way that comes when you prepare not yourself but someone else to meet a challenge.
4. Hope– this was most prevalent on the faces of the many parents that joined the children when receiving their certificates and even more when they were saying their farewell as the children boarded the bus for the ride to Kampala. They seemed to be experiencing the hope that comes from an opportunity that likely had felt unattainable previously.
5. Giddiness– I don’t know how to say this other than when the kids were lining up to board the 36 person van to Kamapala they were utterly giddy. There were giggles, playful pushing, and wide-eyed wonder as they got on a bus like that many had never boarded, special chicken meal in hand, trunks packed to the brim as they ventured to the “big” city. It made the class photo a bit of a challenge but was a complete honor to witness.”
Katy’s recollections were similar…
" Oh it was such a blessing to be at this ceremony. Let’s see, 5 things I will never forget…
1. The look of joy and humility on the faces of each student as they received their diploma and backpack. It was profound that after all the work they had done to get to this point.
2. Watching the faces of the younger students as the P7 students walked up individually to receive a diploma. For the first time, they could look forward at what they themselves could achieve some day. I’ll never forget the hope and excitement they had in their eyes for their own future.
3. I’ll also never forget the parents. They were dressed in their best, which is a very important way of displaying their pride for their children and honoring what they had accomplished. Also, most of the children are raised by single mothers and don’t have a father figure in their life. I was amazed at the number of fathers who did show up and proudly celebrated with their student.
4. I was blessed to see that Elaine and Mick, the American founders of Zozu Project, have truly built deep relationships with these students. At one time they looked at these students and saw an overwhelming challenge, and now they have together come full circle to success.
5. Finally, I was struck by the enthusiasm and attentiveness of the Ugandan staff. Principal David and Social Worker Richard were energetically running around to make sure every detail was done with care and love. It was humbling to watch."
Thank you to all of the support and prayers that so many of you gave to make this day happen! We hope you can get a taste of the joy that this day was full of smiles.