Mbale/Kampala, Uganda – Summer 2013

Schools: Mengo Primary, Faithful Servants Primary, Faithful Servants Secondary, Mothercare Preparatory
Libraries: Mengo Laurel Library, Faithful Servants Primary Laurel Library, Faithful Servants Secondary Laurel Library, Mothercare Preparatory Laurel Library
Students Served: 4000

In reflection, I simply shake my head and think – incredible. As we have provided libraries the past 9 years, the administrators have constantly commented on the difference reading has made in concentration, expanded vocabulary, improved writing skills, and general knowledge.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “The things I want to know are in books. My best friend is the man who gives me a book I haven’t read.” The books are changing lives, but the continued friendships and love that are shared through LOL are changing lives as well.

 

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Texas, Illinois, and Kansas groups arrived in Uganda in June. While here, they created four new libraries, containing 12,876 books total. They also added 9,977 books to two of our previous libraries. You can imagine, it was quite a feat – putting 22,853 books in correct Dewey order, plus folding in an additional 5,000 books already received last year at our two previous schools. Top that with decorating the libraries and labeling each shelf, and you know the team probably should have gone home wearing ‘Wonder Woman’ capes. They have my highest respect for a ‘job well done,’ as is said in Uganda.

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While here, the book club at Mengo SS held a meeting with the team. As various students stood to tell about
their favorite books, love for reading shined though their faces and voices. The students shared a book that was their favorite and/or had changed their life. Some of the books mentioned were Pilgrims Progress, Matilda, Twilight, Harry Potter, Bible, Found, and a Thousand Splendid Suns. One student shared that Timothy, the librarian, also had taught them to be well spoken. BillyPaul Okumu inspired the students, speaking about how LOL is about libraries, but also God’s love for others. He challenged the students to make the most of the opportunity.

 

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I arranged for the team to have fellowship with our Mbale headmasters and librarians. We had a great time (39 people) singing, eating, sharing personal information, and visiting. We had four solos, two by men who
will be new headmasters in 2014! What an evening! The team also had a great dinner at the Okumu residence the evening before returning to Kampala. Sitting in a circle in the yard, I know each person was thankful that God had chosen them to spend this time in Uganda.

 

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I am looking forward to a two day meeting of our 28 headmasters (principals) in Mbale next week. It will be a time of finding new ways to encourage reading, as well as bonding as an LOL family.
At the opening of the four new libraries, a 7th grader sang a song containing the words, “Thank you for giving to the Lord. I am a life that was changed.” When I think of those words being sung, emotions come, because that says it all. May God bless our many supporters and volunteers who have changed and continue
to change thousands of lives in our beloved Uganda.

 

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Update (June 24, 2013): In the photos above, left, volunteers visit a Mengo Primary School classroom. At right, Matthew, the librarian, at the completed Mengo Primary Library. After the first week, the team has completed libraries at Mengo Primary and Mother Care Preparatory. In addition, they’ve made time to engage with the students outside the library, including Sports Day at Namirembe Primary and Book Club at Mengo Secondary. This week, the team will create new libraries in Jinja at Faithful Servants Primary and Secondary schools, plus complete the Bugonda Road library with a total of 8,000 books and re-do the Mengo Secondary School library. This week also will include a grand opening celebration of all the libraries to be held at Mother Care Preparatory.

Update (July 1, 2013): The travel team has completed two weeks of hard work and returned to the U.S. They accomplishing so much in such a short time. From Trudy, “We had endless laughs, shed tears together, worshipped together, and have become even closer friends.” The team also took a photo safari to Murchison Falls and saw four lions, endless giraffes, elephants, cape buffalo, hartebeest, kobe, crocks, and hippos. It is a trip that will be life-changing for many and we appreciate all they contribute.

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