At each school there seems to be one or two children that you instantly connect with. Sometimes it is a simply a look in their eyes, where you can see an old soul in a very young body or a child that has grown up way too fast. At Bishop Central her name was Patience. Such a fitting name for a child brought into the world in a country that had been through such a tragic war years ago and is slowly trying to rebuild.
The day prior, I had met Patience at the Mukono Boarding School’s field day and assembly. She was one of the chosen children that represented their school while showing us how they utilize the school supplies that Sister Schools brought to them last year. Her English was impeccable and her thirst for knowledge unquestionable. (She also was the one who called me out on adopting – see yesterday’s post). As the head teacher Sarah was introducing us to all the students, she asked if anyone knew our names. They yelled out Terry and Michael who they remembered from years prior (although they get them confused!) and then Sarah asked if they knew any other of us three ladies standing up there. A sweet voice from in the crowd of 500+ students yelled out “Trina!”
After the assembly, Patience and I sat on a broken stair and started talking. Patience’s parents are both from Rwanda. Her father moved here during the genocide and quickly changed his name the moment he hit Ugandan soil. I told Patience that my brother, David, had married Hilarie, a lovely lady from Rwanda and that I have two beautiful nieces, Sophia and Maya, that are half Rwandan. She smiled at our connection.
She then told me about her family; five siblings all in school and supported by her single mother who is an administrator of sorts. Her mother is also heavily involved with the church, but Patience said she sees her on weekends. She spoke in a lower tone with a little embarrassment and sadness as she said her parents were separated and that she only sees her father once a year, if at all. Sadly, something quite common in Ugandan culture. Her voice regained confidence and hope as she told me her dream of wanting to be an English teacher for the lower elementary (P1-P3), so she can help other children have a better future (I have no doubt in my mind she will do just that). She said that she walks 30 minutes a day to school each way, but that it is OK because she is trying to be the best student she can be. I told her I was really proud of her and couldn’t wait to come back to Uganda and someday have her as one of the head teachers at one of the schools Sister Schools partners with.
As I walked around the grounds of Bishop Central, I came across a small boy with a very large cut above his eye and a fresh bandage, sitting in a lonely classroom by himself, as his friends joyfully played and sang out in the sun. I asked the head teacher what had happened to him. She explained that when he saw our van coming he started running towards it as fast as he could and tripped on a rock and then fell face first onto rocks that cut his eye. I had nothing to give him as I only had my camera and the last thing he would want is to see a picture of himself and be reminded of the fall, so I went to the van and grabbed a coconut & almond KIND bar and gave it to him. I told him I am sorry he hurt himself and to get better soon and study hard. A small token for a boy who was so excited to see us he ran to us.
As it was time to go, a large group of children walked with me towards the van. I asked Patience if I could have a photo with her and instantly there were dozens of faces smashed around us, Elizabeth took a photo as quick as she could as more faces were smashing in.
I will never forget Patience for many reasons, but especially for her young, but wise, wisdom in a world where she has grown up way too fast. And for her drive and thirst for knowledge so she can help children out of a life of poverty and a better future with their education. Terry formed Sister Schools 23+ years ago for all the “Patience” of the world, who see life bigger then themselves and want to build a better society through education.